A Travellerspoint blog

Koh Tao

Gulf of Thailand

On our last day on Ko Tao we went to Nangyuan Island off the coast to catch some rays.

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Also we went to a beach in Ko Tao called Shark Bay where you can apparently snorkel amongst different types of sharks but unfortunately (or fortunately) we didnt see any when we were there and managed to come back with all our limbs.

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The main and it seems the only business here is diving. We have now completed the open water scuba course and can now dive to 18m/60ft. The course lasted for 5 days, starting off with a lot of theory in the classroom (which neither of us thought we would see whilst away) and a lot of diving, first of all in the pool.

Piscine ou nous avons pratique les exercices de plongee
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Then of course 4 dives out in the open water where we went to sites like Twins, Chumphon Pinnacle and White Rocks all of which were spectacular sites. Where we saw moray eel, reef sharks, trigger fish, banner and angel fish amongst others.

Notre equipement de plongee
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The diving school aswell provided us with accommodation, which was a bungalow with a view of the beach.

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But the weather isnt always good out here and weve had to suffer some of the worst thunderstorms weve ever seen of the past couple of days. Not to mention the local insects which are the size of small birds.

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Posted by JimmyHill 00:30 Comments (1)

Chiang Mai

Northern Thailand

Chiang Mai is another built up city which isnt really the sort of thing we are looking for so we spent 1 more night there before we started the 'hill-tribe trek'. This is the only reason most of backpackers come to Chaing Mai is to do the trekking in the surrounding mountains and to meet the local tribes living in them.

We did a 2 day/ 1 night trek from Chiang Mai, heading for the mountains near Pai. First of all this involved a stop off at the market on the way which sold everything the locals love, including deep fried cockroaches, beetles and crickets.

Les crickets fris
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We got to the site around midday where first we did the elephant trek across the river and up the hill, which was supposed to last for an hour but our elephant mustve been on steroids or something as it was off like a shot and we finished half an hour before everyone else.

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Ballade en elephant lors de la randonnee de 2 jours que nous avons fait
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We then started the actual trek which was physically one of the hardest things either of us has ever done. Although we passed through some awesome jungles and rivers, that did not excuse the fact that it took us 3.5 hours up the side of a hill and most of the time we had to use our hands to climb aswell due to it being so steep.

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Randonnee a pied de 3h, dnas la jungle
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We go to the village in the afternoon, where we met the locals and saw where we were going to stay the night. Which it fair to say it was basic but comfortable. We tucked in to one of the best meals we've had cooked by the family we were staying with.

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Cabane ou nous avons dormi pendant la randonnee
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We were also treated to a traditional 'performance' from the local kids after dinner
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On the second day we trekked down the other side of the mountain and passed a few waterfalls on the way which were a good opportunity to rest. Once back at where we started we did the white water rafting for an hour, which was something we'd defintaly like to do again. Although the rapids werent that quick, we still had a good crack. After this we did bamboo rafting which is exactly as it sounds, a load of bamboo tied together to make a raft with us lot sitting in the middle.

On our way to Koh Tao, we passed through Bangkok again to stay there a night to get re-acquainted with the Khoa San road again and of course something that Servane was talking about for a long time before - McDonalds.

Posted by JimmyHill 23:55 Comments (0)

Pai

Northern Thailand

We did a 14 hour night bus stint from the border of Laos into Thailand. And you guessed it, it didnt go without its problems. When arrived to the Thai side of the border they told us that they had no seats left on the bus to take us the rest of the way and told us to get on the local bus. But after much arguing in broken english, we managed to get the beds which we assumed must usually be for the driver.

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But after all this we managed to get to Chiang Mai in the morning and after staying there for a day went straight up to Pai.

Pai, another hippy centre similar to Vang Vieng in Laos. Surrounded by rivers, lakes and waterfalls, the scenery is as chilled out as the people. Not more than a few shacks and huts, Pai is a 4 hour bus ride north of Chaing Mai, through the winding mountainous roads.

As we only spent 2 days in Pai, we decided to rent a motorbike to do a bit of a tour of the area. But after renting the bike i was dreaming about, it stopped working after a few miles and had to swap it for a trusty moped. Bit dissapointed.

La moto qu'on a loue mais que James n'a pu conduire que 2 min avant qu'elle tombe en panne
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We still managed to do the main sites though. Which included the hot spring where the water was over 80 degrees and a bit further down it was like a bath for us and the locals.

Ruisseau ou l'eau faisait plus de 80 degres
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Lunch during the day, probably still thinking about the bike
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At the elephant camp
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Posted by JimmyHill 23:35 Comments (0)

Luang Prabang

Northern Laos

Our first few hours in Luang Prabang were spent searching for a guesthouse/hostel but we mustve went to 50 where they were all full and/or overpriced. This goes to show how popular Luang Prabang is (at least according to Lonely Planet). We managed to find what can only be described as a hut for 5 dollars, overlooking the Mekong.

Luang Prababg is supposed to be a 'cultural gem' in Laos with bookshops outnumbering bars. That may well be the case but we found it to be like any other built up 'city' that weve come across with not much more to offer, which is why we spent only 2 days there.

One of if not the best place to go around LP is the waterfall where they had (rightly or wrongly) bears and tigers caged in the ares. They also have some pretty nice lagoons to swim in.

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View from the top of the waterfall
Vue du haut de la chute d'eau
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Lagoon in the middle of the jungle on the way to the waterfall
Lagon au milieu de la jungle
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We also did the city tour where we came across the royal palace museum and temples in and around Luang Prabang.

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Royal Palace
Palais royal
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On our way to Chiang Mai, we went via Vientiane again where we stayed for the day and got the night bus to CM.

That Luang Temple - Vientiane
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Posted by JimmyHill 23:16 Comments (0)

Vang Vieng

Northern Lao

After two days in the capital, we have now arrived in Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng draws loads of hippy backpackers along with the rest of us as it is a place that is famous for its mountains, its adventure sports, trekking and the chilled out way of life. We are staying in what is basically a hut next to the river.

The Riverside Bungalows where we stayed
Bungalows au bord de la riviere ou nous sommes restes plusieurs jours
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Bars down by the river
Bars le long de la riviere
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Up until around 10 years ago, Vang Vieng was untouched and consisted of a few mut huts by the roadside but since the tourists have discovered it for what it is, rightly or wrongly, it is slowly becoming more tourist orientated. But for now it still seems to be untouched to a degree and it has that authentic local feel to it.

Menus in the local restaurants also include a 'happy' section with pizzas, milkshakes and spaghetti with something called 'marijuana' on them.

We also ventured into two of the biggest caves in Laos, where we had to trek in the pitch black for an hour at least to get to an underwater 'lagoon' wearing only flip-flops, which needless to say our feet were left battered and bruised.

We have now done the tubing which involved floating down the river for six hours in a tube passing floating bars getting progressively more drunk. This also involved ropeswings and ziplines into the water, which after a few beers didnt seem as big.

Ropeswing bar we came across whilst tubing
Bar avec saut a l'elastique
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James on ropeswing probably just about to fall off
James en train de sauter et sur le point de tomber
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Tubing down the Mekong river
Nous sur les bouees sur la riviere Mekong

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The main street at night
La rue principale le soir
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We have spent the majority of our time in Van Vieng doing sweet fa which has been cool. We are on our way up to Luang Prabang tomorrow (25 Mar).

Posted by JimmyHill 02:04 Comments (0)

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