Khob khoon kha Thailand (thank you)

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
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117
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Trip End Jun 18, 2011


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Sunday, April 17, 2011

So after 2 months we are now ready to leave Thailand! From here we are going to travel overland for three days to the neighboring country of Laos and its northern city Luang Prabang. When we left home back in September I wasn't actually looking forward to Thailand all that much: I thought it would be over-run with tourists, be full of drunk English and Australian people and if it wasn’t for the fact that Thailand is such a central South-east Asian country I don’t think I would have been tempted with visiting it. However I have been proved utterly wrong. One of the reasons I love traveling so much is that it brings everyone’s differences and individualities to the surface and what might be great for one person doesn’t suit others and vice versa. Put simply… we have had an absolutely incredible time here in Thailand despite having such low expectations of it. So much so that I am officially awarding Thailand a place in my 'Top 3 Favourite Countries So Far’ list. Although we didn’t get to visit many of the southern islands (which are the main reason that people come here) because of flooding our time here has been spent doing the type of things that we really love… so whereas some people might not it very exciting visiting temples, eating street food and trekking through the jungle when they could just get hammered at an Irish pub all day, we have had an amazing time.

Our time spent volunteering at ChildTRAC back in Phuket was one of the most rewarding and enlightening experiences of our lives: I don’t mean it lightly when I say it changed our lives. My strongest memory of Thailand is visiting the refugee camp for construction workers in the town of Khao Lak: no matter what the future holds for me I will always remember those feelings of helplessness and despair when I was confronted with the reality of human suffering and poverty.  I don’t think I will ever be able to fully express the impact that experience had on me.  From here it was very difficult to get back to normal life again and to summon up the energy and enthusiasm to travel again. However once we got moving we ended up having a brilliant time in Bangkok, Auytthaya and now Chiang Mai. We have had so many memorable experiences here in Thailand that I think I have started to lose track of all our activities, but these are the ones that stand out from our 2nd month here traveling: visiting the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, walking the Bridge over the River Kwai, seeing the temples at Ayutthaya, our cooking class, experiencing a Buddhist meditation retreat, trekking through the jungle, bamboo rafting, elephant riding, the madness of Songkran and zip-lining through the jungle. What an amazing time we have had!

From here we will be spending two weeks in the country of Laos: Laos is a pretty under-developed country and is registered as one of the 20 poorest countries in the world. So we don’t really know what to expect. We plan on visiting three places during our time there and our main aim is just to soak up the atmosphere and take in the unspoilt scenery: although it is becoming more of a tourist destination, Laos is still a very undeveloped country compared to places such as Thailand. There are a couple of ways of entering Laos but we have decided to go for the most adventurous way in: its going to take us three days worth of traveling but we are going to sail down the mighty Mekong River on a traditional slow boat! We have heard some people say that the boat into Laos is one of the best things they have ever done so we are really excited that we are going to get to do it ourselves. We bought our trip through a booking agent in town that we have used quite a few times and she passed us over to the various operators for the different stages of the crossing that we will be using over the next few days.   The plan is to take a mini-bus from Chiang Mai to the Thai-Laos border and spend the night on the Thai side of the border, then the following day we are going to cross the border from Thailand into Laos and board our slow boat down the Mekong. The boat ride takes two days and so we are staying overnight in a small river-side town called Pak Beng and then the next day we will be back on the boat and we’re due to arrive in the city of Luang Prabang at about 6pm. That is the plan anyway! So today we said goodbye to Chiang Mai and got the mini-bus to the border where we are staying overnight. The accommodation is quite nice although it is infested with mosquitoes but that’s made up for by an amazing view of the Mekong River. Tonight we made friends with some people who will be doing the boat trip with us and had a nice tea together. Apart from that the only other thing we did was buy some cushions to sit on for the boat (apparently the wooden seats are murderous after the first 3 hours) and have settled down for a good night’s sleep before our long day tomorrow.

Bye bye Thailand, you have been very special to us :-)
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Comments

rach on

information overload !!!!!!! 2 blogs in one day ! im in my elements here xx hope your feeling better everyday , have a great flight tomorrow xx speak soon xx

Mum and Dad K on

Hope you got text message yesterday and had a happy birthday. Have a good flight tomorrow and enjoy Vietnam. Look after yourselves and speak to you soon. Lots of love xxxxxxx

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