Took an overnight IRT Deadliest Roads trip from Luang Prabang to Houayxai/Chiang Kong on the Laos/Thai border. An experience to say the least. Obviously we had no Laos kip left to pay to get across the water into Thailand. The Mekong River is the natural border between Laos and Thailand…and most other places around Asia to be honest! We had to get some breakfast from a street-vendor and paid him in US dollars to get Laos kip (they’ll take anything you’ve got! Didn’t quite want to give up the rolex). He had to go to another shop to get his laughing cow cheese supplies for our rolls. I fell, of course, getting off the boat on the Thai side. Good times. I don’t know why they even bothered putting a border official on the Thai side – it was super quick. We took a bus to Chiang Rai on a public bus (complete with some old-lady admirers for John and the back door wide open – in the RAIN) from here to see if there was anything to see there. There wasn’t…so on we continued to Chiang Mai.
We found a lovely guesthouse in Chiang Mai, no idea of the name though as it was only in Thai. It was more like an apartment really (except with zero amenities) with a lovely lady owner. We may have been the only ones staying here actually. Plenty to see in Chiang Mai, lots of temples, a great night bazaar and lots to do in the surrounding area. I bought a few bits and pieces here. You could literally spend weeks just wandering around the place. We found the most amazing Italian restaurant, ‘Pizza e Vino’, in the world/outside of Italy. It’s just off Tha Pae Gate, and actually run by an Italian. We ate there five nights in a row. No joke. And oh my God the wine. Our first night in Chiang Mai consisted of the Italian restaurant, the night bazaar…and a lady boy/cabaret show. Great laugh though. One guy did a Whitney Houston impression with fluorescent blue lips. Indescribable. Most of the other nights went the same way.
We actually went zip-lining with this crowd called ‘Flight of the Gibbons’. Saw a few gibbons alright but I’m pretty sure that was a bit of a scam. Staged-gibbons I tell you!! The zip-lining was crazy though. You’re harnessed and you basically jump/are pushed off tree-top platforms and you ‘zip’ down a metal line. They have thirty-something lines strewn hundreds of feet up in the air around the rainforest. Pretty great day out. One of the lines was pretty scary alright. You have to jump off like Superman (woman in my case). The girl in front of me was freaking out. I was thinking ‘this is no bother, would she come on’…then the Skyranger AND her boyfriend pushed her off. Still I was fine. Then I looked over the edge. Couldn’t do it. Managed it the second time then though!! Thanks for the helping hand there John. We found the coolest little bar (the size of a poker table on the side of the street) called Ben’s Bar where we whiled out a mega-rainshower and then some. Spent the night/early hours chatting with a lovely Norwegian and a crazy ex-pat psycho who loved himself. Found a fantastic book shop run by a guy from Fermanagh. I was only allowed to buy five books though. Stupid AirAsia.
Attempted to book a first class railway sleeper cabin to get to Bangkok but all booked out. Three days beforehand. (First class because of other train experiences + my serious dislike of bugs). Hampered.com. Booked a seat on a ‘sprinter’ twelve hour train instead. It was actually grand, you could even recline. Thanks again Mr. Valium 🙂