From Chiang Mai to Laos, what's not to love?
15.02.2007 - 28.02.2007 33 °C
So... Life has been good and life has been busy, but over the last month I have visited four different countries and countless little villages and cities (half of which I will share with you today).
I started off my latest journey in Chiang Mai (CM), Thailand. CM is the largest city in northern Thailand and a gateway to the northern mountains and jungles. One day after arriving in CM I found myself engrossed in a 3 day/2 night jungle trek. Throughout the trek we hiked through the mountains, swam through waterfalls, bamboo rafted down rivers and even elephant trekked. All of it was all fun and games, but it was the evenings that made this such a cultural experience. Each night we would spend in a small village of a random hill tribe. We would light camp fires, talk with the locals and become witness to their lives and traditions.
After CM, I did a trip to the golden triangle of Burma, Laos and Thailand. I saw some more astonishing temples, visited a hot spring, and drank some of the harshest whiskey I have ever tasted. I also visited the infamous longneck tribes (see picture below) of Northern Thailand whom have migrated from Burma.
So finally it was out of Thailand again and off to Laos. Laos was quite the experience. For those of you who do not know about Laos, it is one of the most undeveloped countries in the world and believe it or not, it is also one of the most bombed countries in history as well. For these reasons Laos is probably the least touristy places in SE Asia. This, combined with the kind courteousy and culture of the Lao people (and a great exchange rate) made Laos one of my favorite countries.
I started off my journey though Laos in a small town named Huay Sai. From there I took a 2 day slow boat journey down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang (with a one night stopover in Pak Ben, a town with no electricity).
Luang Prabang is a beautiful and small French colonial styled town. It was a great little place to relax, shop the great night market and enjoy wonderful food. LP is also a gateway to some magnificent excursions, including a series of truly astonishing waterfalls and natural pools.
Vang Vien was the next stopover. Here I tubed the Nam Song River. All I really need to say is good times, but as always I will say more... While tubing the Nam Song in an inflatable inner tube your entire day consists of floating down the river from one bar to the next. While at the bars you can drink (obviously), swim, play football (soccer) or volleyball, swing among the countless wire swings into the river, or just chill and unwind to the thumping music in the air. I enjoyed the tubing for one day and the next day I did a 5 hour kayaking trip before heading off to the capital, Vientiane, the following day.
Vientiane is a nice place, but it does not have the amusing charm and feel of the other smaller towns I visited in Laos. However, it does have one of the three working ATMs in the entire country (the only one accepting Visa). I spent only a day and a half in the city. I felt it was enough to see the sights and temples... plus I had to meet my friend from home, Ryan, in Bangkok on the 28th so we could fly to Bali, Indonesia to celebrate my... ummmmm.... 27th birthday.
OK... enough for now... more to follow soon... I hope you enjoy the pictures. Oh, and if you want to know about what kind of whiskey I drank send me an email, I had to keep this blog rated E for "Everyone."
Ciao for now!
Local Women of a Chiang Mai Hill Tribe
Local Hill Tribe Member Plays a Local Handmade Instrument By the Campfire
Elephants and Rice Fields - Pure Chiang Mai
Mountainside View Along the Trek
Wandering Along, Anticipating the Elephants
Waterfall Located Besides a Hill Tribe Village we Stayed In
Longneck Tribes, "Sooooooooooo National Geographic"
Amazing Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai
One of Many Waterfalls Around Luang Prabang
Rope Swing Into A Waterfall Pool Outside of Luang Prabang
Wire Swing Into the Nam Song River in Vang Vien
Beautiful Landscape of Vang Vien
Kayaking at Sunset in Vang Vien
A Little Neighborhood in Vang Vien
Local Hill Tribe Child - Chiang Mai
Little Lao Girl Along the Side of the Mekong River
Cute Lao Girl Along the Nam Song River in Vang Vien
Map of my Travels