A Travellerspoint blog

Away From the Islands & Into Northern Thailand & Laos

From Chiang Mai to Laos, what's not to love?

sunny 33 °C
View South East Asia 2006-07 on thedever's travel map.

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!

Tim

PICTURES

Local Women of a Chiang Mai Hill Tribe
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Local Hill Tribe Member Plays a Local Handmade Instrument By the Campfire
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Elephants and Rice Fields - Pure Chiang Mai
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Mountainside View Along the Trek
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Wandering Along, Anticipating the Elephants
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Elephant Trekking
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Waterfall Located Besides a Hill Tribe Village we Stayed In
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Longneck Tribes, "Sooooooooooo National Geographic"
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Amazing Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai
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One of Many Waterfalls Around Luang Prabang
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Rope Swing Into A Waterfall Pool Outside of Luang Prabang
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Wire Swing Into the Nam Song River in Vang Vien
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Beautiful Landscape of Vang Vien
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Kayaking at Sunset in Vang Vien
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A Little Neighborhood in Vang Vien
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Cute Kids

Local Hill Tribe Child - Chiang Mai
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Little Lao Girl Along the Side of the Mekong River
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Cute Lao Girl Along the Nam Song River in Vang Vien
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Map of my Travels

Posted by thedever 09:55 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Life in the land down under...

Cities, Wilderness and Reefs!

sunny 32 °C
View South East Asia 2006-07 on thedever's travel map.

Sawadee!

To some of you this may come as a bolt from the blue, to others maybe not. For those of you who are not connecting the dots, what I am trying to say is… “Sawadee from Koh Samui, Thailand!” Yes from Thailand, not New York. I voluntarily missed my flight home when I disembarked the plane in Singapore during my connection and bought a flight to Thailand.

Ok… surprised or not it is time for me to continue my journey and blog. Here is the update and pictures I promised from OZ.

A 30 minute ferry ride from Hervey Bay brought me to Fraser Island where I enjoyed all of the unique flora and fauna amid the tropical beaches, wetlands, rainforests, arid deserts, pristine creeks, and implausibly clear fresh water lakes. Amongst all of this vegetation I found myself surrounded by over 325 species of birds, several species of spiders, insects, lizards, wallabies, possums, turtles, dolphins, sharks, stingrays, fresh water eels, flying foxes, echidnas and eastern Australia's purest population of dingo. Yes, this little island has it all, which is hard to believe seeing that it is an island completely composed of sand and absolutely no soil. In point of fact, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and the lone place in the world where rainforest grows in sand. Pretty impressive I must say. It was a great escape from Sydney and my first time camping on this trip. I also enjoyed my first savor of Kangaroo meat (mmmm… yummy). All things considered, it is hard to explain the true beauty of Fraser Island. All I can say is that it is something one should experience for themselves.

After 2 days on Fraser Island I caught a 12 hour night bus to Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Fortunately for me I was able to get a good solid nine hours of sleep on the bus. Unfortunately for me when I arrived in Airlie Beach the weather was awful. But as the unlucky as this was, in a way it was a blessing in disguise. The worst weather I have seen in a long time provided some of the most incredible sailing conditions. The “perma-grin” smile on the captain’s face said it all… full sails, big waves, and tremendous splashes all made for brilliant fun as we sailed among the GBR at an average tilt of 40 degrees. Over the next couple days and nights we sailed, snorkeled, fished and island hopped through the Whitsunday Islands. We all saw some incredible fish, a lot of turtles, and many more unspoiled beaches. It was such an enjoyable time and a wonderful alternative to going to the movies on a rainy day.

Disembarking on the final day was sad, but it was time for me to head back to Sydney for one last night before it was off to Thailand. All in all, great fun Australia was. I barely scratched the surface of the colossal island, but I know I will be back in the future to enjoy much more of the many offerings it possesses.

Some numbers
Trip Country Count: 7 (excluding US/Germany)
Trip Continent Count: 2 (exlcluding NA and Europe)
Life Country Count: 26 (167 remaining)
Life Continent Count: 6 (only Antartica remains)

G'day Mates!

Tim

Many, Many Pics from Oz

Darling Harbour, Sydney
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Sydney Opera House
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Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge
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Fraser Island Shipwreck
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Fraser Island Cliff
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Indian Head, Lagoon, Fraser Island
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Fraser Island Lizard
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Fraser Island Spider
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Fraser Island Dingo
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Birrabeen Lake, Fraser Island
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Relaxing at Birrabeen Lake, Fraser, Island
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White Sand Beach, Whitsundays (cloudy day)
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Snorkeling Lagoon in the Great Barrier Reef
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Beautiful Fish from the same lagoon (trust me there were much bigger ones, but this was my favorite)
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Sailing the Great Barrier Reef in the Whitsundays
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Kangaroo's, not to far from Airlie Beach
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Where will I go next????
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Posted by thedever 10:53 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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