A Travellerspoint blog

Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay Junk Boat Cruise

Our 3 day trip with Ethnic Travel

overcast

While sitting for our bus to pick us up, a couple of shoeshiners came over and started trying to mend the holes in Chris' Vans. Seeing as they were beginning to look a bit desperate, he decided to let them and before you knew it, they had lent him a pair of flip flops for him to wear while they were fixed and they were busy with the glue and the thread. They did a pretty good job, apart from they used brown thread on his blue Vans. They also re-soled the heel for him. They scrubbed them clean before suggesting this work should have costed £12 but didn't seem too fussed when we only have them £3. Clearly we still overpaid, but a shoeshine alone is supposed to be £1. Let's see if it makes them last!

Our 4 hour journey to Halong Bay involved a pukey Christopher who had had a bit of a funny tummy since yesterday and our driver being pulled over by the police and fined for infringing goodness knows which one of their nonexistent traffic laws. According to our guide it was for crossing the white line, which everyone had to do to pass us while we were stopped. He was fined 500k, which is about £15, which is a lot of money in Vietnam!

We boarded our very nice junk boat with 11 other people in our group and began our journey through the gorgeous limestone towers, which make up the stunning scenery. We travelled for about 2 hours before reaching a floating village where we got onto a 4 man rowing boat and were given a tour around, during which, it was a little chilly and Chris announced that he'd forgotten what it felt like to be cold, even though it was not as cold as the day we spent in england at the end of October. After that, we travelled for another hour before stopping for the night.

The following day, we rose at 7am and headed out straight away on the kayaks and spent an hour exploring the caves and the rocks around where we had spent the night. Before breakfast, we returned to the boat and took a quick swim, jumping off of the boat. The air was quite cold, but the water was warm. As we ate breakfast, the boat headed back towards Halong Bay, where we took a minibus through various towns for 90 minutes in order to board a boat to Bai Tu Long Bay. As we got closer to the dock in Halong Bay, there were so many more boats than we had seen on the whole of our trip.

Bai Tu Long Bay is a lesser visited bay, which is very similar to Halong Bay. As we headed out, some of the clouds began to break and the sun shone through onto the rocks, making it even more stunning than it already was. We stopped en route for 40 minutes to explore the rocks on the kayaks again before continuing on to Quan Lan island where we spent the night.

We stayed in a guesthouse and helped prepare and make the spring rolls for dinner.

The following morning, Chris and I got up at 5.30am to go to the fish market at the top of our street. The boats had not long arrived and were unloading their fish. Some of the locals were desperate to show us their catch and one really wanted us to take pictures of what he'd caught, which was really sweet. Although they get groups of tourists staying in their island every night, they probably don't get too many head down to the market at dawn.

After breakfast, there was the option of a bike ride in the mud and rain or a tuk tuk ride along the same route. With the memories of our bike ride last week in the mud and rain in Laos still clear in our minds, we opted for the tuk tuk ride to the beach. The beach was a gorgeous white sand beach which I would imagine on a hot sunny day would be like paradise.

At 11, we started sailing back to Bai Tu Long Bay, in order to take the minibus to Hanoi. We arrived back on shore at 1.30pm and had a long 6 hour drive back to Hanoi through quite along stretch of roadworks.

If you get the chance to go to Halong Bay, I would completely recommend Ethnic Travel for a mid-range budget trip as they travel further out of the bay, so there were no other boats around us at night. They also own their junk boats, so you will get what you pay for. Just take a cushion as the bench seats get a bit numb! That's my one critiscm of Ethnic Travel.

The following day, we visited Hao Lo prison, which was used for both political prisoners and American POWs during the 20th century. Naturally it looked pretty grim, but there were some images used for the media by the Vietnamese which portrayed prison life as being a very pleasant and enjoyable experience.

At midday we took a taxi to the airport in order to catch a flight to Danang. We knew it should have been about $15-18, so approximately 350,000 VND. Our metre was showing 352k when we arrived, but for some unknown reason, our taxi driver only charged us 300k. We had to keep checking the 200k note we'd received as change to make sure we hadn't miscounted the zeros and it was in fact only 20k. It's strange being in a country where as a tourist, you are there to be ripped off and then have a taxi driver voluntarily under charge you!

The other end in Danang, the 50k taxi was not available for less than 150k. Eventually we managed to get one for 40k from outside the airport. There must have been nearly 100 taxis hidden round the corner waiting for their tourist....

Posted by Roaming Rolts 02:23 Archived in Vietnam Tagged boat cruise bay halong junk taxis bai Comments (0)

Hanoi, Vietnam

Learning how to cross the road all over again!

overcast 25 °C

We realised that our flight from Vientiane to Hanoi was the first time we had taken a flight on this trip and for it to have been just one flight with no connections. It was really nice to only be travelling for an hour. Our flight WS so efficient that it started heading to the runway before everyone was in their seats! There must have been a good 20 people in the aisles still looking for their seats.

We had a transferred to our hotel in Hanoi, which took about 45 minutes. On the motorway, their had been an accident, in which the driver of a moped had been killed and was laying covered at the roadside. As we went past, our driver asked me to drop some money out of the window. He didn't speak English, so I wasn't sure if I was supposed to hand it to the police as I had yet to see the body so assumed it could have been some sort of pay off. It turns out you drop the money for luck.

We arrived at our hotel, where our bags were carried in for us. We were not used to this! We checked in, found our very nice room and then a few minutes later our bags were brought up to the room. I could definitely get used to this!

The following day, we wandered around the old quarter before heading to lake Hoan Kiem in the centre and visiting the temple in the middle. Afterwards, we went for a coffee overlooking the fountain and a pretty major junction. We sat mesmerised by all the scooters weaving in and out of each other, avoiding the odd pedestrian and car.

We decided to brave the roads and took a cyclo tour around the old quarter. A cyclo is a bike with a sort of seat carriage on the front. We were very low down in this and it was quite unnerving having car bonnets coming right at you. After lunch, we did a little more exploring, went to see the oper hour and meandered our way through the French quarter.

We stopped for another drink on the terrace overlooking the square and fountain and this time watched the rush hour traffic. Never have we seen so many scooters!

In the evening, we had tickets for the water puppet show, which was definitely different and a little strange. It was entertaining to watch and very clever how much they moved the puppets. Some of the sketches were quite comical and some included fireworks.

The following day, we took a taxi across town to the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Mihn. Our taxi dropped us off on the opposite side to the entrance in front of the mausoleum, and so we followed the signs along what felt like a never ending trip right around the back, past a couple of different entrances before finally finding the real entrance, where everybody else's taxis were dropping them off. You're escorted around the area where the queues would be on a busier day (weekends and holidays) by very well dressed guards. Once at the entrance to the mausoleum, there are more guards making sure you are silent to pay your respects to uncle Ho. Inside, it is very eerier. Ho Chi Minh is in centre, raised up to eye level in a glass tank. Having died over 40 years ago in 1969, he looks more like a wax work. As we walked round, single file, without stopping, the lady in front began sobbing, which by the halfway point had become hysterical crying.

In the afternoon, we visted the temple of literature, the historical education centre of Vietnam, and the military museum which showed Vietnam's 20th century history and included quite an impressive collection of war planes and helicoptors.

In the evening, we tried out one of the corner street bars where the beer was 10 thousand dong for about 350ml, so bout 30p. Seven drinks later, we'd racked up a whopping tab of 70k, less than £2.50.

We ventured back to our hotel and packed ready for our trip to Halong Bay the following morning.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 08:06 Archived in Vietnam Comments (1)

Vientiane, Laos

Final few days in Laos, in the capital city.

Vientiane is the capital of Laos; however it once again feels like a relatively small town rather than a capital as we would know it. It sits on the Mekong overlooking Thailand. We had initially got our hopes up that there could be some decent shopping as there were two malls marked on the map. It turns out that a mall in Laos is actually just an indoor market.

Our bus journey from Vang Vieng to Vientiane was a little eventful. After driving our of town for 10 minutes, we suddenly turned round and started heading back the way we came, we were almost back at the bus station when the bus turned around again, stopping to pick up a few Lao families from the side of the road. Who knows what had gone on there!?

Second attempt to go lasted a whole 30 minutes before half the Loatian people needed to get off at the side of the road for the toilet, and another half an hour after that before two of them started to be sick all down themselves. When we made an official toilet stop an hour later, we were genuinely wondering how long this 3 hour journey would end up lasting, and were pleasantly surprised it went without incident and took only 3½ hours.

Chris' Guest Curry Review

On arrival, we were pretty hungry so went for our first Indian since leaving the UK. We were initially sceptical judging by the plastic chairs and tables but it turned out to be one of the best curries we've ever had. The onion pakoras we had to start came with an unidentified but delicious sauce (green but not minty). For main, my Rogan Josh was perfect. Slightly sweeter than England but not to its detriment. Enjoyed with a slightly buttery and slightly crisp garlic naan. Zoë went for a Korma but it wasn't coconutty enough. That'll teach her to read the menu. All washed down with a Beer Lao. If you ever find yourself in Vientiane, check out Taj Mahal, you won't be disappointed.

After lunch, we wandered around town, questioning how we would manage to fill two days here. The following day, we visited Lao's history museum, which included some interesting modern technology pictures, which looked really dated by our standards. We spent the afternoon planning our trip to Australia and people watching in a very nice coffee shop.

The following day, we had a flight booked to Hanoi in the evening. We visited the morning market first thing before walking up to the Vientiane equivalent of the Champs Elysees to their version of the Arc de Triomphe. Afterwards, we took a tuk tuk up to That Luang, a stunning golden temple which reflects the sun. I would imagine that normally this is a pretty impressive temple; however today is the first day of the Lunar festival, which basically meant a 100 metre stretch of road in front of the temple was closed off for stalls, who were all playing loud music and/or using a microphone to shout goodness knows what over the top. The whole place was littered with rubbish, and it actually felt more like a desperate fair ground on its final day than a calming Buddhist festival.

With our ears still ringing, we had another coffee before taking a tuk tuk to the airport.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 08:55 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Vang Vieng, Laos

Tubing capital: hopefully the wettest place we will visit!

rain 35 °C

We arrived in Vang Vieng after a long 7 hour bus ride through the mountains, which we were told would take 5, 6 at most hours. It was an incredibly uncomfortable, hot bus.

Vang Vieng used to be very much a party town for backpackers stopping off en route to the capital Vientiane. It is famous for its tubing down the river, which over the last decade has become increasingly more alcohol fueled, with bars lining the entire stretch of the river offering free shots to anyone who stops for a drink. (Everyone.) With this, there were various slides, zip lines and jump ropes into too shallow water. Mixed with all the alcohol and a lot of drugs, unsurprisingly there were 32 deaths last year by October. The president, tired of getting calls from various embassies headed down to the river with the army and ripped the whole lot down, leaving only 3 bars along the river. This has meant a lot of backpackers do not even bother stopping here, and no longer do 1000 travellers pass through the town daily.

On the river it was really peaceful and relaxing, sitting in a rubber ring as we floated down the river. The first bar is within metres of the start point and didn't look that appealing. We think we could have been the only people to have not stopped. The second bar was half an hour down the river and we stopped here for a couple of beers. We were some of the first to make it to this bar, and most arrived about an hour later. Here, there was a rock to jump off which did go into very deep water, and the guy in charge of helping the people on rings stop was more than happy to demonstrate his moves. After about 5 minutes of jumping in, one of the other workers said a something to him in Lao and he went off and put his lifejacket on - safety first!

Chris and I left this bar after a couple of hours and enjoyed the 2½ hour float back to Vang Vieng. It was a lovely hot day, which is apparently unseasonal for this time of year, which made it very pleasant floating along the river in our wet clothes. Mum, you would absolutely love this as it's just sit in a ring and float down the river, admiring the spectacular scenery.

Following a recommendation by another couple at our guesthouse, we went out for dinner at 'Whopping Burger', where we had the best burgers ever. You had 2 homemade patties cooked either plain or with teriyaki sauce. There was a bit of salad in the biggest bap ever and no need or any sauce as the burger was so delicious.

The following day we hired mountain bikes and cycled 13 km out of town to visit some caves. The sign for the first cave was a homemade sign stating Tham Pha Thao, big and nice. You pay your 85p entrance fee, handed a torch and left to venture the cave alone. Inside, there are absolutely no signs of it being a tourist attraction. There is no lighting of any description, not even to guide you to the exit. The cave is split onto various different levels, with sections of low ceiling so if your torch did die on you, you would have absolutely no chance of getting out and just have to wait and hope someone else came. In the half hour we were there, no one else joined us, but 2 girls asked us the way after we came out.

The second cave, Tham Kiao was just a kilometre up the river through a village. As soon as you went into this one, you could hear the running water. About 50m in, you had to walk up the water, which came up to our knees. As we continued, the water level varied from ankle deep to waist deep. For one section, you couldn't walk down the middle and it was up to our chests at the edge. We carried on for about 500 metres, going through various different chambers until we made it to one chamber, which had a really big rock glistening in our torchlight in the middle of the cave. We decided to turn back as there was now the occasional bat flying around, and we were worried the torches might run out of battery. Also we had heard another group come into the cave but think they may have stopped at the beginning of the water. This cave carries on for 2km.

Our shoes were very sandy on the inside and so we decided to do as the locals do and washed our shoes and socks I'm the river. We did get a few strange looked from the villagers!

We set off on our bikes and cycled about 7 km back towards town before turning off to see some waterfalls. This next dirt road was quite hilly and took quite a while as neither of our bikes was particularly good; my gears didn't work properly and Chris once again had a slight puncture. He always picks the one with a puncture, or is it just he's too heavy for these poor bikes? As we were leaving the caves, it had begun to spit, which we had thought would be nice and refreshing and would keep us cool; however as we headed towards the mountains, this turned into a torrential downpour, and the road into a mud bath. After about 5 minutes, we found a tree to take shelter, although we were already soaked through, again. After about 10 minutes of huddling under the tree, jealous of the herd of cows with the better tree next to us, we decided to carry on as it showed no signs of passing and we were as wet as we could be.

The rain did ease off and about 45 minutes later we were at the turn off for the waterfalls, with our bikes and legs caked in mud. On the final 100m to the entrance, the heavens opened (if they can in a Buddhist country?) and we were once again dripping wet. We sat under a shelter for 10 minutes before thinking what's the point and heading up to the waterfalls.

There were a couple of average waterfalls with pools for swimming in. If it was still a hot and sunny day, then we think they would have been really nice. We spent about 10 minutes there before heading back to the entrance to pick up our very muddy bikes.

The ride back to town was a lot flatter and we stopped off on the way and washed our bikes in a lake. We probably got fewer strange looked for this than we did earlier for rinsing our socks and shoes! In total, we cycled 25 miles with well over half of that on dirt roads.

We topped Chris' bike up with air to disguise the puncture before returning the bikes and taking a lovely hot shower.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 22:22 Archived in Laos Comments (2)

Luang Prabang, Laos

What a funny name!

sunny 40 °C

We set about exploring Luang Prabang the following day. Luang Prabang sort of reminds me of San Pedro de Atacama, as all of the signs are wooden and use the same yellow letters to name the place, all made out of wood. I like places which aren't overridden with advertising.

En route to breakfast we stopped off at a temple which was holding a morning service, with monks sat around in front of the Buddha shrine. This seemed to be quite an informal service, with a few of the locals joining in.

For breakfast, we ended up at a French café, where I had the most delicious savoury pancake, filled with smoked salmon, cream and lime.

Afterwards we wandered down to the river just in time to see a group of monks washing on the opposite bank. There was also a man fishing out of his long boat, throwing a whole net into the water and seeing what he managed to catch.

We walked along the river, stopping off at Laos' most spectacular temple Wat Xieng Thong. This temple had black walls inside with intricate gold leaf drawings covering the walls from floor to ceiling. In the middle was a lovely golden Buddha .

Afterwards we took a boat across the river to Chompett district, which is a more authentic example of a traditional Laos town. Here the main road was a dirt track and the buildings were more like huts,with no glass in the window frames, not that you need it. We walked along one of the main residential streets which was narrow with deep moats running along the side for drainage. All around there were various cockerels and the odd stray dog roaming freely.

Back on mainland Luang Prabang, we headed up the hill to a temple called Phousi, which overlooked the city and Mekong. The views over Laos were magnificent with vast forests covering the mountains. In the distance amongst all the trees stood a golden temple, glistening in the setting sun. We had hoped to watch the sunset up here but it was so ridiculously busy, we decided to head down to the water's edge, where we arrived with about 10 minutes to spare. As we watched the sun go down, there were a couple of men in the water up their necks washing out their fishing nets.

For dinner, we took a little rowing boat across the Mekong to this bamboo hut restaurant, hidden on the hill behind the bamboo trees. It was a beautiful setting, with scatter cushions on the floor and low level tables. There were pretty little romantic red and white paper lamps on the tables and the whole restaurant was on various different levels along the hill. We had a really delicious meal here; Chris had an interesting woody buffalo stew and I had a whole fish of some variety in lemon sauce.

After this , we headed back across the river and walked back to our guesthouse through the night market.

Tomorrow morning we are taking the bus to Vang Vieng.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 03:15 Archived in Laos Comments (1)

Slow Boat Along the Mekong

Travelling across the Thai border down to Luang Prabang, Laos on a 2 daddy slow boat along the Mekong

semi-overcast 30 °C

We took a mini bus to the Thai border town of Chiang Khong, stopping off in Chiang Rai to visit the truly stunning White Temple. Over the last few weeks and in Japan, we have seen a lot of different types and style of temple, but neither of us was expecting this temple. We had both imagined a plain temple, which had been rendered and its beauty would be in its simplicity. It turned out that the White Temple was one of the most intricately decorated we have yet to see. Its neutral bright white made it stand out with its intricate plaster work and glass tiles for decoration.

After spending the night at the border, we set off on Saturday morning at 8.30am to travel across the river to Laos. We then booked our tickets for the slow boat to Luang Prabang. We boarded the boat and were surprised by how comfortable the boat was as we had heard some pretty uncomfortable stories of people sitting along the wooden deck of the boat. We were on mini bus seats which had been placed on the deck.

The scenery along the Mekong was gorgeous and travelling outdoors on a boat rather than couped up in some air tight bus was lovely. We travelled for 6 hours on the first day, before stopping for the night at Pakbeng.

On arriving at Pakbeng, Chris and I split up as we'd heard stories of people sleeping in a freezing cold barn when they'd run out of accommodation. I looked around 5 pretty awful rooms before managing to find a clean one that didn't look too horrible. As it turned out, the electric went off during the night and in the morning. Plus there was no cold water so the toiled didn't flush, and the shower was scalding hot. At least we had water as others in the guesthouse did not!

The second day was a lot longer, with more stops for the locals during the 8 hour journey. Again the scenery was stunning, with luscious green forests, water buffalo grazing at the water's edge and the occasional waterfall.

We arrived at the port at about 4.30pm and took a tuk tuk into town with a man who according to Chris sounds like Brains from Thunderbirds. He updates maps online and includes bus and train timetables, trying to keep the information up-to-date. His website is www.hobomaps.com and he gave us maps for our stay in Laos. They're very detailed maps, showing all the accommodation for each town.

For dinner, we went to a barbecue buffet place where every table has their own little barbecue and you go up to the buffet table to get your raw meat. There were plenty of different types of meat and fish and a good variety of salads, rice and noodle dishes to go with it. We'll only have ourselves to blame if we're ill tomorrow, unless the meat was off!

Posted by Roaming Rolts 07:58 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephants, cooking and a few temples for good measure

sunny 32 °C

After our night train to Uttaradit, it was surprisingly easy to get the bus towards Chiang Mai, where we changed to a local bus at Lampang to go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center. We had hoped to be able to do a 2 day homestay program with the elephants, but they were all booked up. They did however have accommodation within the reserve for £16 a night where you stayed in a bungalow with a veranda about three times the size again.

That afternoon, we watched elephant bath time and the elephant show. The elephant show was so cute, with the elephants taking a bow as they were introduced. Over the next half an hour, they showed off their skills from logging, to throwing balls into a basket with their trunk to 'playing' musical instruments. The final part had three elephants doing a painting with their trunks. One did some flowers, while the other two painted elephants. They were really quite impressive pictures.

After the show, you're allowed to feed the ellies sugarcanes and they all stand in an orderly line along the showground perimeter, trunks waving to receive their sugarcane.

The following day we rose early to go to see treatments at the hospital. There was one elephant who liked like he had caught his foot in a trap as the bottom was a bit mangled. It had clearly healed, but he was still not putting any weight on it. Poor thing. There was another one having blood samples taken, but he was fine, if anything being awkward as all he had wanted to do was eat while this was going on.

Afterwards we headed across to the bathing area, where we changed into elephant training outfits, mahouts, ready to help with bath time. The outfits were denim shirt and trousers. The trousers were one size with a denim ribbon to do them up. I inadvertently had put mine on backwards and not done them up properly and so after about 10 minutes you could see my bikini bottoms. This provided much amusement to the workers who laughed even harder when I'd turned them round but didn't know how to tie them and so one of the Thai ladies, while giggling sorted me out. Chris' weren't done up properly either but they left him be.

We climbed up to the loading platform before getting on to our ellies, on their necks, right behind their heads. We rode them across to the water, where Chris'elephant proceeded to fill up its trunk in order to shoot me with water. My ellie unfortunately would not retaliate. We were soon in the water helping to clean them. Chris' continued to shoot me and his Keeper taught him to say 'bong bon' which made his ellie shoot me. I tried this with mine, but it just lifted its trunk to the top of its head and sprayed me in the face. I tried once more, talking to it on the side in Chris'direction before getting a face full of water again. Although Chris wasn't being sprayed, he was being dunked right down to the point where he nearly fell off, which gave a new opportunity to splash h his neck to ensure he was almost as wet as I was. His hair managed to stay dry, whereas mine was as wet as someone who had just stepped out of the shower.

Washing the elephants was so much fun and will definitely be one of the highlights of our trip to Thailand.

Afterwards we visited the baby elephants in the nursery who had cool hairstyles, sticking up nicely. Their miniature trunks were so cute.

To finish off our trip at the elephant reserve, were went for a half hour stroll across the water and through the forests by elephant, this time on a seat on its back,

We took the bus to Chiang Mai, which has a historic wall dividing the new and old parts of the city. Here, there's the usual collection of ornately decorated temples, but it's most famous for its courses. We enrolled on a one day Thai cookery course where you make and eat 7 traditional Thai dishes from scratch.

The trip began with a visit to the local market to get the fresh ingredients needed for the day. Afterwards we headed to the house where the course was being run and picked the relevant herbs and chillies from the largest herb garden I've ever seen.

Throughout the day we prepared and cooked soup, noodles, stir fry vegetables, sweet and sour, papaya salad, mango and sticky rice, green curry and panang curry using curry paste we'd made ourselves. The course was great fun, particularly when we 'cooked with fire' to do the stir fry. At the end of the course, we enjoyed a delicious lunch out on the veranda. Let's hope when we try and recreate the dishes at home they taste just as good.

In the evening, I went for a back, neck, head and shoulder massage, which turned out to be a back of body, arms and chest Thai massage. This was so painful as I had some woman (and I'm pretty sure mine was a woman) trample up and down my body. I am unsure as to how this can even slightly be described as a massage.

On Friday, we are taking a minibus to the Lao border town of Chiang Khong, ready to take the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 02:12 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Ayutthaya, Thailand

Adventures by bike around the former Thai capital.

sunny 35 °C

Our bus journey to Ayutthaya included an unscheduled 45 minute stop as our minibus driver fixed his overheated broken down bus. At least this time we were at a service station and not on the side of a mountain after dark.

Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand, and when they built Bangkok, they decided to try and replicate the layout of Ayutthaya. Other than the fact both have a river running through the middle, we couldn't really see the similarities.

When the capital was moved, a lot of the brickwork was taken too, to help Bangkok replicate Ayutthaya. Most of the temples have been left to ruin and are no longer decorated in ornate tiles. We spent the day going between the main temples and the Royal Palace until we were all templed out. Our mode of transport for today was the good old push bike.

It's very interesting riding a bike in Asia, and something which needs a bit of practise, a lot of courage, and a total lack of fear. Imagine sharing the road with not only cars and buses, but motorbikes with frame-like cart sidecars; mopeds galore, half ridden by hesitant tourists, the rest driven by daring hasty locals. Tuk tuks and weird 'truck buses'; random pedestrians evidently with a death wish and finally the odd food stall cart stuck out into the road for good measure. Oh and I forgot to mention the herd of elephants to whom everyone must giveaway. Yet surprisingly, it seems to work. Even taking the third exit off of a three-four lane roundabout wasn't too scary once you got on it.

At first it made a pleasant change to visit some rundown runs, but by about the third set, we felt we had seen enough. Ayutthaya is an exceedingly pretty city with some of the temples surrounded by water. Having elephants strolling through in traditional dress adds to the feel of the place, making it seem more authentic and set in the past.

In the evening, we enjoyed a lovely curry on some decking onto the river before catching a sleeper train to Uttaradit. This sleeper train was 2nd class which meant 32 beds in one carriage with no air-con, just fans. Chris didn't seem to sleep too badly; however the trains really do sway in Thailand and I kept being lifted up on one side. Plus their trains are incredibly noisy and seem to bang constantly. Aft one point I drifted off but had a strange half dream that I could feel my stomach banging into my intestines. When we alighted 7½ hours later at half 6, it took summertime for the motion feeling too pass. We then caught a bus to Lampang to go to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 08:14 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples temple travel elephants Comments (1)

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