Lao Laos.. hmm tasty!

Its been a week or so since our last post when we were leaving Nam and heading into Laos.. And what a faaabuloso week its been…

Think we have finally settled into the ‘backpacking’ … Ok ok flashpacking lifestyle… More of the self-guided tours, jumping off random things, wandering the streets, eating from the market and being inspired by the gazillions of serial travellers..

Having nearly been a month of travelling, I think it has just hit us that we aren’t going home for a while yet and it ROcKs!!

As soon as we arrived in Vientianne, the capital of Laos, we couldn’t help but feel the need to chiiiiillll right out… After about 3 hours in Laos we could already see why people rave on about it… Totally loved the vibe of the place. Despite Vientianne receiving very mixed reviews, the friendliness of the people and the lazy sunday morning feel of the city gave us a great warm up to the culture of Laos. As I said to Rishi at the time, if this is the less liked part of Laos, I can’t wait to get to the loved parts!


Overall the main highlight of Vientianne for us was the Bhudda park.. Which has loads of statues of Bhudda and even Hindu Gods including a gorgeous statute of Krishna, but it’s 25km out of town…easy to get to for 50p on the local bus! Don’t take a tuk tuk there..

Our other most favourite place was a little cafe called Fruit Heaven which began our addiction, and I mean addiction to yuuummy fruit shakes…hmm, my mouth is watering thinking about them… You get a fruit shake for less than a dollar in Laos… it’s not whether you should have one, it becomes a question of what fruit to have this time!

To give an idea of what Laos is like, the best story I can recall is in this little cafe where one of the staff got an order wrong and they had a little telling off, but all the while they were smiling and said it so jovially that it seemed more like friends just chatting… SOoo relaxed.. Something I could definitely learn from!! I know Rishi agrees…

We moved on to Vang Vieng pretty soon after, having heard that its an absolutely gorgeous place which has been trampled by 18 year old chavs who are constantly stoned and drunk… Sweeet!… Ok to be fair I was a little apprehensive, hmm, that’s sooo unusal for me, no?!…

Anywho, after our bus ride, aka a minivan which was made for little Laos people, I.e. No space… we immediately found ourselves a little guesthouse, dumped our bags and went exploring. VV is a super duper party and chill out place.

We tried to pack in as much as we could in our time there… Caving was loads of fun, especially the water cave where you sit on a tube and drag yourself further and further in… Being chased by several dogs while trekking through local villages was undoubtedly another one of the highlights too, especially when even our tour guide was suggesting we make a run for it and had to warn the dogs of with sticks… Really inspires a lot of confidence! Lol…

But the ultimate part of VV has to be tubing… We sat on tubes about 5km up the river from VV and floated down past loads of bars, pumping out party music, who throw you a rope and drag you in when you want to stop… At the bars you can go nuts by ziplining, sliding or just diving headfirst into the river… Be careful when it’s low tide though, sooo many people were on crutches or had got other injuries! Eek!… We somehow managed to get a chaperone who followed us on a kayak and pushed our tube along till we got to his bar… As anyone who’s been here knows, first thing you gotta do when you stop is knock back some Lao Lao… A shot of whisky… Hmmm, tasty… And obviously I had to wash that down with something a bit sweeter so we ordered a vodka lemonade… 5 bucks for a bucket of the stuff and it tasted really good too…! This has to be the ultimate party/adventure destination in SE Asia!

Even if you don’t drink or you aren’t 18… Tubing alone is a super cool experience. The scenery is absolutely awesome as you float down, and the people aren’t all chavs…it’s all totally up to you how good you make your trip while you’re there!

After a tiring, strenuous day rolling down the river… Don’t scoff.. It’s hard work flapping yourself down that river!! Lol… You are bound to be hungry… Starving!! We enjoyed our cheap as chips food sitting on raised ‘floor’ like seating while watching god knows how many episodes of Family Guy… I cannot understand why people put Vang Vieng down… This day has to be one of our most favourite in the trip so far! BIG THUMBS UP VV!!!

Sadly, we had to move on, but that’s the amazing part of travelling… End of one fantastic place, means moving onto another.. And meeting even more new people!

Off to Luang Prabang, which is sooo beautiful.. It has the Mekong River on one side, the Nam Song on the other..and plenty of temples in between…

Rishi will I’m sure go on and on about the new obsession I developed with photographing monks…Seriously they totally make the photo so much more exciting.. And then I discovered the kid monks.. Cute AND fantastic colouring for pictures..!! It was a 2 for 1 I couldn’t resist.

Despite, Rishi having teased me on my monk obsession… He made us stand around one of the temples while the monks were getting showered up and dressed… Before they came down for chanting (amazing vibe) and prayers inside the main temple… It was worth waiting for though. The monks found us as intriguing as we did them.. Seeing an Indian is apparently a exciting sight! Talking to them in broken English/ sign language we got an insight into their lives as monks.. They are just normal boys wanting to get an education and because many families can’t afford it, the boys become monks.. They won’t necessarily remain as monks forever.. But while they commit to this life, they commit to 4am prayers, only two meals a day, shaving their heads monthly, living on alms from the local people…and a devotion to Bhuddism. Pretty full on..

If you do go to Luang Prabang, get up at early to watch (6am) the procession of 200 monks through the city as they collect alms from the local people… Ok its probably more tourists now, but the sight is fantastic and something you are unlikely to see elsewhere… It took us 3 mornings and several snooze buttons before we did it.. but we got there in the end…

There are not sooo many activities in LP… But you will know the most popular thing to do here as soon as you arrive because you’ll hear the ringing in your ears from the tuk tuk drivers… “Waterfall today… Cheap cheap”.. Of our 4 days here, we did go to the waterfall once with a French/Finnish couple and a couple of girls from Dorset.. I’m particularly proud of myself. After going on an trekking adventure to the top of the falls and sliding down the otherside!!

(It was kind of steep!!) I became Jane from the Jungle.. I even had my safari print bikini on… I flung myself using a rope into the waterfall lake… I think the other spectators worked out that I was scared, as I collated a queue of people behind me waiting to do the same thing and when I finally jumped in, everyone cheered for me! … Woooh!

I must mention the night market here too, firstly because its surprisingly a pretty market with the usual handicrafts, notebooks , jewellery etc but more so because we visited it EVERY night we were in Luang Prabang… Rishi bought some of those big travelling people trousers and actually looks good in them while I bought a random chunky silver chain… Well I had to get something and I’d already bought another pair of short shorts in VV, there’s only so many of those I could get!! (Sure the girls will disagree with this).. 😉

This part of the trip, we really started to get into traveller mode.. We even gave up our nice Phousi guesthouse for our last night in Luang Prabang to stay in one of the cheap guesthouses without A/C!!! I knooooow!! Am only kidding, it really wasn’t bad at all…but, we had been spoilt while in Laos cos it’s super cheap here.

Being in Laos and meeting some really cool people over the past few weeks, we’ve really started to enjoy the trip… Letting ourselves really get into the activities and sights and also permitting ourselves to just STOP, relax and soak it all in… Crazy talk from a city girl ei?

I’ve read 800 pages of Shantaram in the last month, and also decided with Rishi to go on loads more of these trips… Hope we remember this when we get back!

Missing everyone back home. Not that you’ll recognise us…Over-indulgence of food and sunshine means that day by day we are getting darker and fatter… O well!!

Till next time… x

The Infamous crossing… Bangkok to Siem Reap

And the journey began…

Backpacks on at 6am, en route to MoChit sky train station.. Having been in Bangkok for a couple days, we knew how to get around on these.. A cab ride from the sky train station to the bus station, easy enough, right? Uh no! Who would’ve thought the cabbies didn’t even know where their closest, biggest bus station was!!.. After harassing a few of these guys who sat looking at us with confused faces in their bright pink cars we were helped by a random local lady who was doing lord knows what at the time in the morning in that location wearing her teeny shorts and white t-shirt.. She told the cabbie to take us to ‘the place with lots of buses’.. Hmm, why hadn’t we thought to say just that?!

Anyhow, we arrived safely and in good time at the bus terminal to get ourselves a first class ticket to Aran phayet.. Yes, that’s right, we were travelling first class.. That’s how we roll!! And it was worth every penny of the extra dollar we paid for it.. We got given a cup of water and a seat slap bang in the middle of the coach. Ok, so I couldn’t actually work out which ones were the second class seats, but hoping our extra money had gone towards getting a seat away from the stinky toilet for the ensuing 5 hour journey.


The bus ride was pretty cool, saw the scenery, had a few locals join and leave including some service men and also saw police come on board to do a random check which ended up with 3 kids being taken off the bus.. No idea why, but came to the assumption that they must have runaway or something!

The fun really began when we got to rumfdsj market.. A kind tuk tuk driver drove us the 2km from the bus station to what we thought was border control for 20 Baht. Except that it wasn’t border control but instead one of the special ‘visa purchasing centres’ that charge you extra to do the visa buying for you… Not ones to be scammed, Rishi and I insisted we would not be buying from them but would venture to the real legal place to buy the visa…

…We walked right out of there and marched on to the street…

… After a little wander round, we marched right back inside and got the lovely gentleman to get some visas for us! O well, the other backpackers were doing it, what’s the worst that could happen?

Going through thai and Cambodian immigration was pretty straightforward.. Apart from the long queues at the Cambodian immigration centre which was basically a small room with a tree growing out of it on one side.. Yes that’s right, a tree growing out of the building.


From there, you get a free government shuttle bus to ‘the International transport centre’ at Poipet or some other overly exaggerated name, where you can choose to take a bus for $9 or hire a taxi for $48.. We took the 3pm bus…

At 4pm, as we sat on the bus, still outside ‘the International transport centre’ we realised we would have to relax on timings and plans and all the other things which are MY way of keeping in control…

The bus journey to Siem Reap was cool though, beautiful scenery, little kids playing outside, and a couple of little road side cafs.. This is where we experienced the first of the little kids begin their sales pitches and I have to say they are bloody good sales people… They really know how to build up the value of their postcards, telling us we won’t find these exact high quality postcards anywhere else.. Not to mention giving everyone a free gift bracelet first, meaning you feel obliged to give something back… Rishi is very keen to have them back in London doing sales for Suncrest!

Anywho, back on the road and into Siem Reap… We were dropped outside a delightful guesthouse where our bus driver had moved our backpacks into the guesthouse already before we’d even taken the 2 minutes to get off the bus.. However as appealing as the guesthouse looked, we stuck to the one we had booked and were really thankful for it.. Gorgeous hotel with a massive Vishnu statue as you enter, friendly staff and our whole tasty, vegetarian dinner there cost only $7.50! Could get used to this…

The adventure begins… ooh forget that, I spy a market…

Woohooo we just finished the first 2 days of our 120 day (and more) adventure ALREADY…and still it hasn’t sunk in that we’re going to be away for so long!

We started out in Bangkok, which is somewhere me and Anj have been to before, so we decided to make this our chillaxing part of the trip to get over the jet lag…we stayed in siam square in a super modern and clean hostel (thanks to super anj’s incredibly detailed research)


The last time I’d been in Thailand I was like 13 or something small, so seeing it with new eyes, I couldn’t help compare it to India with the little tuk tuk rickshaws driving around, lots of market stalls everywhere you go and plenty of noise around the city (even though India probably wins on that front hands down!)

Now as sad as it seems, No we didn’t see the lying Buddha statue and nor the golden palace, as we both remember them pretty well…

Instead we pretty much spent the WHOLE time in the markets and the malls!

The malls, Siam paragon especially, are major high end malls (it even had a Lamborgini show room on the top floor)…this was slightly out of our price budget for this trip!…so we window shopped and then left.

That left the markets…we were told by our favourite guide, the old discussion forums on trip advisor, that china town is a must visit!

So we scootered down in our very metro sexual pink tuk tuk! To be honest, when we reached we were a little disapointed, but then again don’t know what we expected!


Loads of shops on the main road consisting of gold shops and small Chinese restaurants selling shark fin soup where to be honest none of us veggies would risk even entering.

However the tiny side streets with their market stalls was amazing just to see…loads of little stalls selling handbags, jewellery, food, t-shirts and other small trinkets etc…

This is where the WARNING sign comes in for the guys traveling with their other half…we then ended up at two further night markets in Siam and Patpong (very famous) selling similar stuff…

For the ladies though, Anj will testify that she preferred the markets in Siam for their fashion!.. Luckily for me, many of the clothes were too big for her! Phew!.. Me, I preferred the variety of home stuff, t-shirts etc at patpong, even though it is part of the red light district, where we had people trying to sell us on sex shows! Not good unless your into that sort of thing!


Well overall Bangkok, even if it has been mainly shopping, has been loads of fun with some great Thai food too! A good way to start the trip… Yum.

Now as we sit on the bus on our way to our next stop…Cambodia I wonder what’s in store for us there…can’t wait for us to reach! Another 5 hours to go…and that’s just to the border!