Bad moon risin'

Trip Start Oct 27, 2004
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Trip End Aug 17, 2005


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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

We finally managed to take a slow boat in Laos, after endless efforts along the Mekong from Cambodia. The two day trip would take us though some beautiful scenery, lush jungle and impressive mountain scenery. The pace of the boat, the river and the lives of the people along the banks of the Mekong was just what we needed to make an otherwise strenuous journey a true pleasure.

On reflection we probably should have taken the journey even slower and spent some time in the villages we stopped in along the banks, but we had promised too many people that we would make the party in Koh Pha Ngnan. We also had no malaria prophylaxis and we were already paranoid enough without spending time with the water-buffalo farmers and rice-paddy workers!

Coming back into Thailand was a real shock to the system, again! The Lao side of the river was a collection of simple bamboo huts, a few stalls and a little concrete area with customs and immigration. The Thai side was a bustling town with street-lighting, a 7 eleven shop, tourist offices and proper tarmac roads. On the Thai side of the river stood the impressive "Gateway to Siam", a huge carved wooden archway for the new arrivals to gawp at as the entered the country; the Lao side had a hand made sign that said something along the lines of "Well come in Lao".

Chiang Mai was a little dissapointing, maybe it was the area we stayed in but the town seemed to have two attractions: Temples and brothels. It was only a whistle-stop on the way to the full moon party, so it was of no realy consequence whether we liked the place or not.

We finally arrived, after 4 days travelling, on the beautiful Bottle beach. Surrounded on three sides by dense jungle and on one side by the big, blue Thai gulf, the beach is a real knock to the senses. We remembered again how easy it is to convince yourself that you are somehow bettering yourself by spending six hours a day in a hammock and 4 in the sea. I know it isn't the kind of mind-expanding travel that you come away for, but it certainly is a lot of fun.

The real reason for being on the island was the full moon party, which takes place on the beautiful Hat Rin beach. There isn't really one "party", just lots of bars and lots of people on the beach. The atmosphere was wonderful and it was a real experience seeing all these different types of people just having a party. There were plenty of "Oi, Oi, come on you nutters!" ravers from the early ninetes on the beach, plenty of girls dressed as angels and enough glow-sticks to light New York. There were also plenty of people passed out with a bucket of red bull spilt by their side and plenty of ladyboys taking advantage of the poor people.

I can't say it ranks with the Taj as far as travelling experiences go, but it was certainly a good night/morning. Meeting up with the people we had met in Laos was also great. Now we go to Kuala Lumpar to try and find a route to Indonesia, where once again we'll be putting some real travelling time and not just pretending to 'find ourselves' in Thailand (Oh, there were plenty of them at the party too!).
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