Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hello all,

Well we are back in Bangkok and its kinda dawning on us that this part of the trip is coming to a close, but that obviously means that a new chapter is starting. We will miss the travelling, but we will also be very excited about having a home and somewhere to put our clothes, and to actually have a kitchen to cook our own food in!! I cant wait!
A while ago we mentioned about this amazing 2 day slow-boat trip that we were doing across the north of Laos to the thai border, well it was not quite what we had in mind and turned out to be pretty horrible, When we bought the tickets, we got an all inclusive ticket that gets you from Luang Prabang in Northern Laos to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, you basically do 9hrs a day with a stop over in a small village up the river, then on the 2nd day after the boat you get on a mini bus for 4 hrs to get to Chiang mai. Sounds Ok............

The boat we were shown had individual seats and looked pretty comfy, but when we arrived down the docks at 7.30am on day 1, the boat looked nothing like what we had seen......

This isn't actually the boat we had on the first day, this is the relatively comfy boat we had on the 2nd day. I didn't take any photos on the 1st day as I simply could not get my camera out of my bag. Picture this, Charlie sat down first and she could not sit straight in her seat as her legs hit the seat in front of her, Now picture me (Im 13 inch's taller that Charlie!) trying to fit into the same seat. So for just under 11hrs (yup eleven), I sat on this slip of wood with my legs bent up around my chest, I could also not stand up straight and stretch as I was too tall..... Oh, I nearly forgot, about 5mins down the river from where we left off, a guy ran from the back of the boat (near the engine) upto the front covered in water shouting, Not really what you wanna see, well obviously the whole boat (90 people) turned around only to see a jet of water shooting about 5ft in the air from the floor in the engine room, the boat quickly pulled into shore and they fixed the leak, with a flannel and some string....... Not a great start.

Over the last 5 months while travelling, We have both heard people talking about these horrible bus/boat/car journeys that you look back on and laugh about, "its what make travelling fun" "you'll appreciate comfort in the future" Well I can tell you right now, that's all BOLLOX, It was a horrific day and Ill never look back and laugh or think it was great, It was horrible.

While im ranting, there is alot of "Ive done a longer bus journey than you" "my bed only cost a dollar" "im living on $3 a day" boasting in the travelling community, Well I dont give a crap, "I flew, it took me 1hr, and your bus took 30hrs" "My bed cost $10, I have a fridge and warm water" "Im living on $25 a day, its great, Look at my new shorts.....) Right, I feel better now, back to the trip.

One thing that did make me feel slightly better about our seating was about an hour from the end an Aussie guy (who I had not seen on the boat till then) came and sat down behind us (a few people had got off the boat) He told us that he had been stuck down the back of the boat behind the engine lying on boxes, and he had to wrap a t-shirt around his face to stop the fumes from knocking him out, he also mentioned that he was in very bad pain as he has two fused vertebrae in his back, So no matter how bad you think you have it, some poor aussie bloke has it worse.......

On the second day it was a different story, the boat was pretty big compared to the 1st boat and we had a bench each, It was not comfortable, but compared to the day before it was great.

The reason our boats are called slow boats, is because of these, "The Fast Boats", Since day one of our travels people have been warning us not to go anywhere near these, people die quite alot and its simply a horrible way to travel, they give you a rain coat, a pair of ear plugs and a crash helmet. 400BHP engines on what is basically a large snowboard. Nasty.

Alarm Clock on the river. No snooze button though.

I look like something from planet of the apes, but Charlie likes the photo.

On the second day, I could actually get out my camera and enjoy the scenery, which was pretty special.

Sun rise over the Mekong (and our slow boat)

We were going up stream, so we would hit some rapids, and the boat would be fighting hard against them and it would be pretty scary.

Then other parts of the river were flat as a pancake. Its dry season so all that stuff growing is planted when the river drops and reveals very fertile soil.

You could tell we were getting near Thailand, they had the salesmen out to free you of your cash!! "Beer Lao" "Beer Lao" "Pringles" "Coca" I think I might email this picture to the marketing dept of Beer Lao.

We got to the Laos/thai border at around 6.30pm and were then told it was closed and we had to get somewhere to sleep and then cross in the morning...... Well, Mine and Charlies "Scam Warning Sensor" was off the scale, especially as the guy who was meant to bring us across and who was now telling us it was closed, conveniently owns a guesthouse "just around the corner"...... So this 2 day journey was dragging into the 3rd day. very annoying as we had booked a room in Chiang mai already for that night, Well, there was not much we could do so we got a room and went for some food and then went to sleep as we had to be up early to cross the border.......... At 4am I woke up with a strange feeling in my belly, I just about made it to the toilet before things got messy, Food poisoning! It could not have come at a worse time, we had to be up and about in 3hrs and had a bus journey and a border crossing ahead of us, and I could not keep water down (or in), Normally I would dig my heels in and just stay here for a few days till I felt better, but we had already paid for the bus tickets, and had no laos money left, so we had no choice. This is the very first time i have been sick since we left, I got a cold in Phi phi in the first month, but this was on a whole different level. Ill spare you the details, but basically without Charlie I would be still at the laos border, She fed me Imodium and pointed me in the right direction at the border crossing (If you look sick at a border, they can easily stop you entering the country) and some how managed to find the place that our bus was leaving from, God bless her she was brilliant, I have never been so happy as when we arrived in Chiang Mai, Our Hotel:

Was pretty pimping, Although we were both soooo wiped out from 3 horrible days travelling that we just lounged around and took it easy.

Compared to some of the places we had been in Laos, Thailand was like Las Vegas! Swimming pools, Seven/Elevens, McDonalds, Starbucks........ It was a pretty big shock, but it was quite nice to be back in a slightly more civilized city.

I was in this pool everyday, sometimes twice and I loved it!

I was very lazy with Photos of chiang Mai, I was really wrecked getting over the food poisoning and the rugby hangover (a wise man once said "With all great Victories, comes a great hangover!") and just could not bring myself to go around with the camera......

"One at a time ladies, One at a time........" Charlie is always giving out to me about the photos I put up of her on here, So It only fair that this goes up too, Its law that you have to wear helmets in Chiang Mai, but Holy crap, this one made me look like I had just escaped from a mental Home......

Well, As I said before we are in Bangkok and are trying to sort out accomodation for Melbourne and get all our shopping done (it does not help that I lost my bloody wallet - No Cash, Just cards) It just so happens that its the F1 Grand Prix weekend and paddys day all on the weekend after we arrive, so getting a hostel is a bit of a nightmare, but im sure it will be fine, Might see If we can get tickets for the F1, Ive never been and would love to see it!

Sorry if this one has been a bit lacklustre and the photos are kinda crappy, but Im tierd and lazy, Charlie might fill you in next on what we did in Luang Prabang and Chiang mai, It was all night markets and silk shops, so she has more interesting stories.....

Lots of Love
Sean and Charlie (Who is the best girlfiend ever for looking after me, as Im a terrible patient)

1 comment:

alex said...

the boat's too slow, the seats aren't comfy, i got the shits..... boo fucking hoo - my heart bleeds for you burke.