3 Days in Vang Vieng including Kayaking, Tubing, Caving and ‘Happy Menu’

We arrived in Vang Vieng from Vientiane via bus. The bus cost 50 000  kip for a 4 hour journey. We were dropped us off at the bus stop which is a short walk from the town centre. We went for a little stroll to find our hostel ‘Chillao Youth Hostel,’ once we arrived the receptionist informed us that the hostel was overbooked and they are going to upgrade us free of charge (twice in one week, we’re on a winner here!) They shuttled us back to the other end of town and helped us check into Vang Vieng Boutique Hotel, the 3 star hotel honoured the rate we secured in a dorm at a hostel! The receptionist was an extremely helpful and friendly lady throughout our entire stay, the breakfast was great, the rooms were very clean and comfortable, also offering a fridge and kettle, the only downfall was the wifi was only available in the common area downstairs . I discovered the normal asking price was $20USD for a twin or double room, I would definitely recommend this to travellers on a low-mid range budget.

We headed out to find a bite to eat. Don’t hold your breath for the tastiest food you’ve ever had, Vang Vieng averages 30 000 kip for a meal, and I have eaten airplane food I enjoyed more than some noodle soups I tried here. There are some ‘flashy’ restaurants with the price tag to match, but we didn’t bother trying. Fried rice does the trick! But people flock here not for the food menu, but for the ‘happy menu.’  The happy menu includes, shroom shakes, shroom pizza, shroom tea, opium tea, a pre-made joint and a bag of weed or opium. You can find this menu at Milan’s Pizza and its surrounding restaurants. Apparently it’s perfectly legal to intake these drugs whilst in the restaurant, but not anywhere else. In saying that, the government and police force can be incredibly corrupt and will ask for bribe money or threaten to put you in Jail if they wish to. Remember friends, you are still in South East Asia, you’ve all heard the stories of the people that get caught, stay safe, don’t be stupid!

**Did you know**

–          In Vang Vieng, restaurants have the TV show ‘Friends’ playing on a constant loop, and the restaurants are designed in a day bed style. Leaving it very easy to laze around and watch friends all day! (like you see many travellers doing)

img_1610We ventured around the town, scoping out prices for tubing and the tours. We followed a sign saying ‘Smile Bar’, which lead us across a rickety bridge to a small island filled with bungalows, hammocks and a campfire out night.  Smile bar is right on the river and is the final stop for tubers, making it a prime bar for sunset, we spent a few afternoons here. watching the hot air balloons and paragliders pass by.

untitledThe next day we went out hunting for the best prices for a tour and also a price if we were to hire a motorbike and go adventuring ourselves. We discovered hiring a motorbike was 80 000 kip per person, and you have to have them back by 5pm, so we thought we would try our luck at the price of tours. We found a tour which included kayaking, exploring two caves, a picnic lunch and visiting the Blue Lagoon for 120 000 kip. The tour also covered the charge to cross the bridge out of town (10 000kip) and the entry to Blue Lagoon (10 000kip), so we decided the tour was a better deal and we booked it for the following day. It was getting close to midday, and what better way to spend your sunny afternoon the floating down the river on a tube! Tubing in Vang Vieng was nothing like I expected it to be, it took about 3 hours and there was only two bars to stop at, which were empty. I understood that the tubing shenanigans had been shut down, but I expected a little more! We spent our evening hanging out at restaurant playing friends, I think they are onto something, it was great to relax!

kayakThe following morning we met for our tour with a group of 30, a tuk tuk drove us up the river to where our kayaks and guides awaited. Most of the guests taking the tour were from a Chinese tour group in which had never been on a kayak before, so we spent the first 30 minutes ensuring lifejackets were on correctly, everyone had a dry bag and how to paddle.

We hopped aboard the kayaks and headed down the rapid filled river for the next hour. The guides played around splashing and spooking people in their kayaks. Up ahead we spotted a rickety wooden bridge over the river, we were gestured to stop at the side of this bank. The bridge swayed as we made our way across to the other side where the water cave awaited us.

The guides gave us each a head torch and a tube, we lowed ourselves into the small river and floated inside to the darkness. We pulled ourselves along with a rope hanging in the water, the water was very cool in comparison to the river we were just in. Our guide stops and helps us up an extremely muddy and slippery bank, and we wade deeper into the cave. The cave glimmered and sparkled as your light scanned the walls, we listened to stories of the people that used to live inside.

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Floating into Water Cave

‘Watch your head,” the guide said, “It gets very low here.”

Well that was an understatement, on almost hands and knees, we squeeze through the cave watching as insects crawl beside you.

“Okay, this is the exit,” the guide pointed. I could see a small slither of light piercing the cave. We watch as the first guide makes his way out. It was a game of which limb first and what’s safe to grab!

We clamber outside to the abrupt brightness of the sun and make our way through a jungle back to the bridge. Here a BBQ lunch awaited out arrival.

After the DELICIOUS lunch our guides announced that those who purchased zip line could follow him and those that didn’t just had to sit and wait…They tried to sell it to us for an extra 120 000 Kip but we decided to save our cash.

We waited for 1-2 hours for half of the group to zip line, which was a bit frustrating, and then clambered back onto the kayaks. We travelled another 40 mins down the river until we arrived in the heart of town, where a tuk tuk was waiting to take us to the Blue Lagoon.

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Blue Lagoon

The drive was about 15mins, many people were cycling or riding a motorbike toward the same direction. We arrived in the carpark and my heart started to sink a little, there were hundreds of buses, bikes and tuk tuks. We made our way inside, I felt like I had entered Disneyland with the amount of tourists squashed together. Majority in which could not swim and were either clinging to people or things, or jumping from high trees with their new found faith in the fluorescent orange life jacket they had acquired. All in which were still dressed in jeans and jackets, pulling them deep into the lagoon.

The lagoon itself was pretty, but the serenity had been lost long ago. We decided to first make the extremely steep climb to the elephant cave before cooling off in the lagoon. There will be ladies trying to rent you head torches, we just used the lights on our phone.

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Entrance to Elephant Cave

Elephant cave is very grand, definitely worth the climb up, and if you have the time and bravery you can adventure very deep into the cave. We made our way back down and jumped into the lagoon (I’m not kidding about others clinging onto you! Be careful the lagoon can be quite deep.) Finally we gathered the group and headed to the tuk tuk to go back to town.

The same tour is offered at many shops in town, some charging a little more with the same itinerary. I think it was definitely worth the money, just a little disappointing with the 2 hour wait in the middle of the day, maybe try find one without the waiting about!

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Approaching Kaeng Nyui Waterfall

The following day we grabbed a tuk tuk for 100 000kip (between three) and headed for Kaeng Nyui Waterfall. It’s not far out of town, but due to the bum bruising road condition it takes about 40 minutes to get there. Once you arrive you need to walk through the jungle for about 15 – 20mins.

I felt like I was in a zoo! We crossed paths with so many amazing creatures and the butterflies wouldn’t stop landing on us! They were the most beautifully coloured butterflies I had ever seen! Finally we reached the water falling from the sky and I couldn’t believe it… There was not even 10 people there in which most were locals! This is a MUST DO in Vang Vieng.

We stayed awhile, venturing into other pools and playing with the butterflies, until we decided it was time to head back to town to sort of the bus for the following day.

img_1522img_1483We were figuring out the best way to get to Phonsavan to see the Plain of Jars, after researching bus times, length and time of journey and costs, we decided to get a private car. Find  How I got to Phonsavan and how much did it Cost?

Vang Vieng is extremely beautiful with so many hidden secrets to discover if you have the time. I would advise going to a different Blue Lagoon as I saw others advertised. It had plenty to offer for the thrill seekers too! From rock climbing, hot air ballooning, paragliding, adventuring on all terrain vehicles this list goes on! There’s plenty of backpackers that have stayed to pick up work in this town, maybe for the adventuring, maybe for the happy menu who knows!

Have you been to Vang Vieng? What did you do differently? Are you going there soon? I’d love to help! Please share with me your experiences!

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The Mystery of the ‘Plain of Jars’ FT. The Scariest Road in South East Asia

What is the Plain of Jars?

Laos is home to the largest plain of the mystery limestone jars. There are other instances of these jars across Asia, however this is by far the most dense. The age of these jars is unknown; it is believed they originated in approximately 500 BC.  Legends have it that they were originally created as funerary urns, as bones have been found within them. Others say they were used to smuggle salt across the Chinese border. The ancient myths believe the jars were drinking cups that the giants left behind. No one really knows what the sole purpose of these jars were. There are three main ‘sites’ to visit the plain of jars, the other jars are scatted in over 160 locations. The 3 designated areas have been UXO-cleared (unexploded ordnance) to allow safe visits for tourists. There is speculation as to how these jars were formed, some say they were chiselled out others believe they were created with a mould. From what I saw of the jars, there looked like incidents of both!

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Where is the Plain of Jars?

The Plain of Jars is located just outside of a small town called Phonsavan, located in Xieng Khuang Province.

The entire Xieng Khuang Province was bombed heavily between 1964 – 1973, the area is now severely cratered by the American bombs that fell every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years. Phonsavan is an extremely interesting town, with a bit of a spooky feel to it. It was almost as if you could feel the presence from the past, the presence from beyond the grave.

 

IMG_1806.JPGHow to get to the Plain of Jars?

Most people travel to the Plain of Jars from either Vientiane or Luang Prabang, we decided to travel there from Vang Vieng to try and avoid backtracking.

From Vientiane a bus costs 160 000 kip and is 11 hours travelling. These buses depart at 6.30am, 8am, 9.30am, 11am, 4pm, 6.40pm, and a VIP sleeper bus at 8pm.

From Luang Prabang a minivan costs 115 000 kip and is 10 hours travelling. These bus departs at 8.30am and takes 10 hours.

From Vang Vieng a minivan costs 120 000 kip and is 8 hours traveling. This bus departs at 9am. There is also a sleeper bus option that departs at 11pm and is 200 000 kip (they have caught onto the fact that travellers will use overnight buses to skip out on a night’s accommodation.)

Once you have arrived in Phonsavan you can either hire a motorbike for 100 000 kip for the day (which is a popular choice) or hire a van with or without a guide for the Plain of Jars. Please note tuk tuks are not allowed to go to the Plain of Jars sites.

Phonsavan also has an airport, it should cost between 10 000 – 20 000 kip to take a tuk tuk to the town centre.

IMG_1735.JPGHow to get out of the Plain of Jars

We went onwards to Luang Prabang.

Buses to Luang Prabang cost 115 000 kip and take 10 hours. The only bus departs at 8.30am

Buses to Vientiane cost 160 000 kip and take 11 hours. These buses depart at 7am, 8am, 10.30am, 4.30pm, 6.30pm and a VIP sleeper bus at 8pm.

There are also buses from here that cross the border to Vietnam.

 

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How we go to the Plain of Jars

These were our options,

Depart Vang Vieng at 9am, arrive Phonsavan at 5pm – 120 000 Kip per person.

Stay in guesthouse house – 60 000 kip per person.

Hire a motorbike and see Plain of Jars – 100 000 kip per person. (the first sight charges 15 000 kip per person for entry and the second sight charges 10 000 kip per person)

Stay in Guest house – 60 000 kip per person

Depart Phonsavan at 8.30am, arrive Luang Prabang 6.30pm – 115 000 kip per person.

Total for transport and accommodation  = 455 000 kip per person ( x 3 of us travelling 1 365 000 Kip in total)

img_1771Otherwise we could take the sleeper bus and knock out the first nights of accommodation, but that actually worked out more expensive.

If we travelled this way we would have also used three days of travelling to visit the Plain of Jars, and although Phonsavan has many other places to visit. We were short on time and the Plain of Jars was the only thing on my list.

I asked for a quote on a private car, first price was 1 800 000Kip, eventually I got them down to 1 600 000Kip, which was more than I wanted to pay, but agreed anyway. This worked out 533 000 Kip per person.

Our private car picked the three of us up at 6am, our driver stopped at a few places along the way to show us his favourite views and most tasty street cart snacks. We arrived at Phonsavan at 11am. Our driver didn’t speak much English but he did the best he could the try and communicate with us. He climbed trees to pick berries for us to try and pointed us in directions to find hidden caves we never would have found otherwise. We spent 2-3 hours visiting the sites and the went to our drivers favourite noodle soup shop for lunch. After lunch we jumped back in the car and head for Luang Prabang on the SCARIEST ROAD IN SOUTH EAST ASIA to arrive in Luang Prabang at 8pm.

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Now I’ve spent a lot of time on buses in South East Asia. I’ve been squashed on with live stock, I’ve been sold a 9 hour sleeper bus ticket and ended up in a tin of sardines. I’ve watched as the bus seems to get closer to the edge of the mountain at every turn. I’ve had drivers blindly overtake semi-trailers on the wrong side of the road. But nothing compares to the road from Phonsavan to Luang Prabang.

Now you may have noticed the times quoted for bus journeys were double the time our driver took, so you can imagine, he was travelling quite quickly. Now can you imagine that it has been pouring rain for the last 24 hours and the rain has not eased off. On top of that the final 3 hours of the journey was in darkness – just to make sure it’s the scariest drive you’ve ever been on. Add in a heavy layer of fog – you know the type of fog where you put your high beams on and it’s even worse? Oh and I forgot to mention, the road is a constant zig zag, scaling up and down the mountain faces with local Hmong children playing on the road, pigs chasing their piglets, chicken’s chasing their chicks, dogs and cats playing, and road blockages from cows (at one stage the driver skidded to a stop and the cows face was inches from the bonnet). After a few drifts around corners, our driver stopped to let air out of the tyres (don’t worry about maybe slowing down?!) At one stage the road turned to sand and we were weaving in between massive trucks and diggers whilst they continued to work!

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But I am still in one piece! And yet again with another story to tell! The three of us agreed that this was definitely the best way we could have done it. And if there had of been a fourth person, it would have worked out nearly the same price as the bus. I thought I would share my experience as when I tried to research this journey there wasn’t a whole lot of information. Maybe you can use this to save three days when you’re travelling Laos!

36 Hours in Vientiane

We arrived in Vientiane and headed for our accommodation ‘ Dream Home 2’ where we had booked 3 beds in an 6 person dorm room for 55 000 Kip per person, per night. This Hostel included free breakfast, wifi (which has been the best wifi I’ve experienced in Laos), FREE WHISKEY between 9pm-11pm, pool table and swimming pool.

When we check in, the manager, named Pikachu, informed us that he had overbooked the dorms and he would upgrade us to private room with a private bathroom at no extra charge, awesome!

img_1162We dropped off our bags and went to explore. From what I had read up on, there wasn’t too much to do in Vientiane, so we only had 2 nights booked, leaving early on the third day. We set off on an adventure, in the distance, we could see a lot of commotion happening, with many balloons being let go into the sky. The perfectly blue sky, I don’t know whether my eyes were hungry to explore this new country, or the colours in Laos were a whole new palate, it didn’t matter, it was beautiful.

img_1174As we ventured closer we realised that it was a college graduation! With the street venders now suddenly selling balloons, streamers, bears, flowers, all things celebration and the students dressed in their graduation clothing, it was quite an amazing sight to witness. “CONGRATULATIONS!” Rowan shouts to a few of the students. They loved it! “Thank you, Thank you! Come to our party tonight, it is at Maxi’s, it’s on the way to the airport!” The students invited. Rowan replied, “Yeah sure, we will see you there!” (we did actually have intentions of going, but we got a little distracted within the night.)

img_1175We stopped for lunch at Jamil Zahid Punjabi Restaurant, which is a Pakistan family run restaurant cooking Middle Eastern and Indian food, we each had a kebab which cost 20 000 Kip, IT WAS DELICIOUS. So much so that we went back for curry the following night! Mr Zahid will be sure to come to your table and ask if he can take a picture for the Facebook page when actually he’s putting ridiculous Snapchat filters on your face and showing the rest of the table! Great atmosphere and lovely family.

We continued strolling and stumbled upon the night market beginning to set up. This is by far the most organised street market that I have ever seen, each stall within a 3x3m red marquee which creates hallways throughout. On the other side of the vast market we reached the Mekong, where you can see just 200m away, across the river – Thailand.

img_1228The sun was beginning to move closer to the horizon so we searched for a bar to perch upon for the sunset. We stumbled into ‘Bor Pennyang’ which I later learnt meant ‘no problem’ in Laos, however it can mean a few more deep and meaningful phrases such as ‘ I forgive and forget your action’ depending on the tone of the situation. We clambered up the staircases to the 5th floor which revealed a stunning view of the sun closing in on the Mekong. We ordered beers (big Lao 15 000, can be bought in mini mart for 10 000Kip) and watched the sun flirt with the darkness.

img_1266An outlandish character named Jack approached our table, he pointed out the defensive gun boats on each side of the boarder. We got chatting and discovered Jack takes motorbike tours all over Laos, (The company name is ‘Jack’s tours’) we then discovered that Jacks’s other job was bomb disposal – he had plenty of interesting stories to share! How he has had to defuse bombs whilst taking a motorbike tour out into unknown regions, a secret airport that no one knew existed, how he has taken defused bombs through airport security and they were none the wiser, how the military has stopped him entering certain areas because they were trying to illegally smuggle things across the Chinese border, the stories were endless! He pointed us in the direction of all his favourite street carts, and told us what he believes the MUST SEE’s in Laos were (which were the COPE centre in Vientiane, Plain of Jars in Phonsavanh and the secret city of Long Tieng which was run by CIA of USA in the late 1960’s) Jack was a pool of information covering ALL things Laos)

img_1254We made plans to meet Jack at his favourite bar, ‘SAMLO’ which was a local grungy dive bar with rock music and cheap drinks (away from the ‘tourist bars’ where drink prices doubled)

We made a quick stop at the hostel to drop my camera off and headed to a street cart next door to Samlo that Jack had recommended.

Meals were 15 000 Kip, and not a single word of English was spoken – it was a game of charades. We ordered dumplings yet literal chicken feet came to the table? We had a laugh, but we were game to give it ago until the lady sitting beside us (who spoke a little broken English) realised this wasn’t what we ordered and such she insisted in helping us get the dumplings. After a good laugh and a few beers, we ate whatever they decided that we had ordered and continued on to the bar. We learnt some more of Jacks local knowledge and continued on venturing. We explored and drank some more when something had caught Dylan’s eye. ‘Tyson’s kitchen’ a Canadian restaurant specialising in Burgers and Pizza which coincidentally had secured the #1 restaurant in Vientiane on trip advisor. Drunken Dylan had to have pizza (and me too)!

img_1301Rowan had told the restaurant it was my birthday (well, it was a couple of days prior) and the lovely staff brought me out a glass of wine and sang me happy birthday! Tyson’s dad then brought over ‘Lao Lao’ (Laos’s ‘happy water’) and insisted we have shots! The establishment is extremely well run and if you need a fix of tasty western food, this is the place to go! Tyson was hanging out in the restaurant and was more than happy to have a chat, they explained they had only opened 8 months ago and after 6 months had secured #1 on trip advisor.

Eventually our night led us home.

IMG_1317.JPGWe rose early the next day and hired bicycles to see the rest of the city. We rode past temples and made our way to Patuxai for some photo opportunities and then continued on to the COPE centre.

Wow what an eye opener. The COPE centre is a rehabilitation facility to help those in need who can’t afford it. It was originally created for those who were injured from the bombings to Laos in attempt to close off supply routes to the Ho Chi Minh trail. The centre makes prosthetic limbs for those that have lost body parts and teaches them new ways to live. Offering both physical and psychological support.

img_1330** Did you know?**

  • Approximately  270 million cluster bombs were dropped as part of the bombing campaign; approximately 80 million failed to detonate. Over the last 40 years we have successfully found 1% of these 80 million. Leaving the remaining still live and active.
  • From 1964, there was a bombing mission every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years.
  • 1964 to present over 50 000 civilians have been injured or killed by the bombs that failed to detonate.
  • There were more bombs dropped on Laos then there were in the entire of World War Two.

 

They have illusions in the COPE centre that allow you to look what it would be like if you had a prosthetic leg and to also allow you to feel phantom limb pain.

img_1332There is a dangling wall of prosthetic legs that look extremely old and uncomfortable, these prosthetics reflect a patient that has received treatment and more advanced prosthetics, all COPE asks for in return is their old prosthetic to display.

After leaving COPE centre we heading back the hostel for a chilled out afternoon. We booked our bus to Vang Vieng and at 9.30am the next morning we boarded our extremely over booked bus, with people sitting on plastic chairs in the aisle. The bus was 45 minutes late (which is pretty normal for Laos) and cost 50 000 Kip. The journey took about 3.5hours including a comfort break. Just like that our 36 hours in Vientiane were up.

I don’t believe you need too much more time to see the sights of Vientiane. The only thing we missed out on, was visiting Buddha Park, which was 20 mins out of town. My opinion would be 3 nights max, unless you have found some more hidden secrets in the city that you would like to share?

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand to Laos – Two day slow-boat vs. Flying.

After debating with myself, whether to spend two days on a slow boat on the Mekong vs. whether to fly from Thailand to Laos, I decided to fly. Why?

  1. Money. Crossing via land is nowhere near as cheap as it used to be. To be honest, all the latest blogs I had read had all paid different fees, not to mention the ‘extra’ fees at the boarder if you happened to be there on a Sunday, too late, at their lunch break or I guess if they just feel like it. I had tossed up the pros and cons but flying came out the winner. We flew;

Chiang Rai to Bangkok – $20 (two day lay over)

Bangkok to Vientiane – $60

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When I started to enquire about the slow-boat in Chiang Mai, I was being quoted upwards of 1500 Baht. This included your bus to the boarder, the slow-boat ticket and a night’s accommodation half way down the river. I started researching the individual tickets for buses, tuk tuks and boats rather than the package, but from what I could see, I was only saving about 500 baht. Making the long boat option half the price of the flight. If you are on a very tight budget, then the slow-boat is probably the best option for you. This current trip I had a little more than a shoe string budget, so I went with the flight.

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  1. Time. There’s nothing more gut wrenching than realising the time you set aside to visit the country is halved because you spend every second day on a 10-hour bus journey. And I was well aware that Laos was one of these slow-moving countries. I did think about the experience, and how beautiful the scenery would be on the long boat. But to be honest I’ve already spent a lot of time on a boat down the Mekong, so I decided this time to give it a miss.
  2. Visiting Bangkok. As I’ve mentioned before Bangkok is not my favourite place to travel to, however in my previous visit I didn’t tick off everything on my list. I also was very curious about how the city was reacting with the King’s passing, and couldn’t help but be inquisitive in this monumental time. Rowan had also never been to Bangkok and Dylan hardly left his hotel room on his previous visit, so they were both keen to check it out.
  3. Location. Luang Prabang is right in the middle of Laos, which means travelling around would mean backtracking through Luang Prabang at some stage. I wanted to work my way from one side to another. My first thought was to cross the border at Chiang Rai and head to Luang Namtha in the East and eventually make my way down to Vientiane and If I had the time, down through to 1000 islands. Or if I flew into Vientiane I could work my way up to Luang Namtha, which is the idea I’m currently running with. Which concluded my decision to fly to Vientiane.

 

IMG_1250.JPGNow, let me get to the flight… I’ve never screamed on a flight… until now… I’m not the best flyer, my palms are sweaty before we even hit the runway, but a few deep breaths and you’re in the air before you know it… right?

Our flight took off and instantly started with a hard turn, (so the plane took off into the opposite direction, sure okay that’s normal) after reaching a full 180 degree turn around we continued to hook into another hard turn, (you know the type of hard turns where you’re either looking at the ground or the sun and you’re not entirely sure which direction you’re heading) this is where I started to get a little more nervous. Why on earth does this plane have to circle back in the direction that it came from!? We hit turbulence… it started off gently and started shaking a little harder, then came the drops. You would know what I’m talking about if you’ve felt one. Where it feels like the plane is falling from the sky, but your stomach is still up there. Then came our nose dive, where instead of just falling from the sky, my body was thrown forward and the plane was thrown down. Now let me tell you, I wasn’t the only person who screamed! Now when I boarded this flight, I thought it would be a 2-hour flight. (I had read the itinerary wrong) After 45 minutes the captain speaks, “Please move your chair back to the upright position, open you window shutters and prepare for landing.”

IMG_1502.JPGDylan : What? Why? Why are we so low? Are we landing?! Where are we landing? I thought we still had an hour to go. Jade isn’t this flight two hours? What’s happening?!

Jade: Yeah… I thought it was… I’m not sure… Are you okay? I thought you liked flying? Remember you said, “turbulence, it’s just like being on a rollercoaster.”

Dylan: No. No. Not anymore. I’m like you now. This plane is small. This plane is too small. Excuse me, Excuse me! *talking to flight attendant* Ahh what is happening?

Flight attendant: We are landing Sir.

Dylan: We are landing?? In Vientiane??

Flight attendant: Yes Sir.

Dylan: Ahhhh I see. Thank you.

I look at Dylan and shrug. The plane’s weight sways one side to the other as we decent in our windy landing. Finally the wheels hit the ground and the heartrate decreases.

Dylan: Well, that’s it, looks like I’m living in Laos now.

Rowan: Haha what do you mean? You’re not flying again?

Dylan: Nope. Laos for life.

img_1208We went through immigration, and Dylan and I paid $30 USD for our visa on arrival, (make sure you have a passport photo and US dollars, which is all you need to purchase your visa on arrival) Rowan paid $35 USD for his as his passport is UK.

We walked through to the exit where a line of travellers were waiting to purchase transport to the city. I tried to look for a tuk tuk, bus or shared minivan, but from what I could see this was the only way. We paid 55 000 Kip for a private van to our accommodation which was a 10-minute journey. (The price was a little steep but we weren’t too sure what the alternative was.)

So all in all, I paid an extra $40, saved myself a few days and experienced a small heart attack.. Maybe next time I should take the boat? Haha.

Have you had an experience travelling between Thailand and Laos? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

The 6000 Baht Scam I couldn’t escape which left me Stranded 2 hours from Bangkok

This is my second visit to Bangkok, and it’s sad to say that both visits have constantly had me on edge from the number of attempted scams. Let me tell you a story about the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Scam.

img_0707After arriving in Bangkok, I was determined to visit the Floating Markets as I missed the chance on my last visit. I did my research and started asking for prices on the trip to the market. The price of course always start absurdly high and you barter your way down. The first quote was 1000 Baht, I played the game, laughed a little “too much, “I said. The game continued, “Okay, okay good price for you, how much you give me?” Finally, we reached 600 Baht, which I felt was a reasonable price for three people travelling nearly 2 hours away and then back. But the man became too pushy and I decided to find someone else.

img_0659Later that night we used the ‘Grab’ app (Asia’s version of Uber) which we had found was the cheapest way to get around Bangkok. I asked our driver for a price, “2000 Baht!” I laughed a little louder this time. There was no game play this time. “600 Baht” I said. He laughed back at me, yet 5 mins later he agreed and we organised to be picked up from our hotel at 6am.

img_08466am arrived, Rowan and I met our driver out the front, (Dylan had drunk a few too many cocktails and decided not to come) the drive took just over one and a half hours, we drifted in and out of sleep from the late-night prior. Finally, we arrive at a place with a desk and a small café, there were no people which I knew was extremely odd for the popularity of this market, our driver pointed towards the desk, “You get boat from here.” A little confused I approached anyway. “Do you want to see Elephants or Tigers?” he asked, “No, just floating market I replied. “Okay 4000 Baht,” he said.

img_0792Rowan and I looked at each other confused, the little amount of sleep we had wasn’t helping the situation. “No” I said, “200 Baht for boat.” Like I mentioned, I had done my research, “I don’t want private tour, just 200 Baht for the boat.”

“Private much better, much more comfortable,” he continued. “No, no private, we will drive to market and get boat from there,” I replied. A lot of Thai speaking went back and forth between our driver and the boat man. “I give to you for 2000,” he came back with, “You cannot drive there, only by boat.” Rowan and I then noticed there was a foreigner price and local. “We live here,” I said, “We teach English, we are local.” (They want to scam me? I’ll take them for a ride!) They laughed, “No, you pay foreigner price.”

img_0692I knew this was wrong; a massive scam, I tried to look at a map to see how far the market was. I turned to our driver, “Keep driving.” He looks at me confused and shakes his head. “Drive down this road,” I wouldn’t take no for an answer. Finally, he agrees, mumbling things under his breath.

He drivers down the road that I point down and we see an archway welcoming you to the Floating Market, he pulls over again at a similar looking place. A lady that can speak better English comes to my window. And the same story again, except this time for 1100 Baht. I kept telling our driver to keep going but he wouldn’t listen. “Rowan, let’s just jump out and have a look, see what we can see.”

img_1072I look down the canal where the boats are waiting to take you to the floating market and notice a footpath all along the canal. I say that I want to walk but of course “You cannot.”

I see some tourists arriving back on the boat, so I head over to ask them how long it took to get there. They were Russian and couldn’t speak a word of English, the scam just seemed to grow.

I tried to ask the company how many minutes it takes for the boat to reach the floating market but they continued to reply with “very far.” I then noticed that all the boats had motors, there should be ones with only paddles. I knew we were close, “Rowan, let’s go, let’s just walk, I’ll figure it out.”

By this stage our taxi driver had completely disappeared, we had stood by the taxi for a while but he was not returning until we booked the boat and he got his cut for this scam. img_0929So we started to walk and the ladies came chasing, I became more stern with them and miraculously they start dropping the price, “okay 800 Baht.” We continued to walk and they continued to chase. I looked at the time it was 8.30am, from all the research I had done, people had said that after 9am it was hardly worth going. I turn to Rowan, “It’s nearly 9, I don’t want to miss it completely, we’re going to pay 200 Baht anyway, should we just pay 600 to get the hell out of this scam?”

They said no to 600 Baht, so we continued to walk and low and behold, “Okay 600.”

We climb upon our private motor boat for 600 Baht, (people pay 200 Baht p/p to jump onto a group boat so I didn’t feel too bad with the amount we had paid, I was just annoyed that we couldn’t see a way out of the scam) and make our way a few minutes down the river to reveal the floating markets right next to a road! We laughed, what’s the point in getting angry.

IMG_0965.JPGThe markets were not full of tourists yet, which allowed some great opportunities to interact with the local venders, however there were a lot of floating shops that hadn’t even opened yet. Our ‘private tour’ was only for an hour and we were unable to get of the boat, So I decided I was going to make our driver drive us there.

 img_0860We arrive back to the boat company and there is our driver waiting in his taxi, we clamber in. He mumbles about going home now. “No, you will drive us to the markets,” I said firmly. He looks at me surprised and shakes his head, mumbling about going home. “No, you lied to us, you said you could not drive there, you will drive us there now.” He replies, “Okay, you give me more money.” Rowan chimes in, “No we pay you to take us to the Floating market, you did not take us there.” The driver shakes his head, mumbles about money and going home and starts driving the car, turning the indicator on to head home. “NO!” I Yelled. “YOU TAKE US TO THE MARKETS RIGHT NOW OR WE WILL GET OUT.” No response, he continues to drive. “Let’s, get out, quick.”

img_0863With the car still moving we jump out and begin our walk in the other direction. He spins the car around and pulls up in front of us yelling for money. “I will give you 300, you only took us half way.” I directed. Absolutely fuming he agrees, we hand the 300 Baht ($12 for a two-hour journey he wouldn’t have even made a profit, and he sure as hell wouldn’t have received much of a cut from our 600 Baht private tour!) and he speeds off. We laugh and start walking. I wish we had of kept walking earlier but hey it’s made for a great story to tell you!

 IMG_0938.JPGThe walk took about 10-15mins, it was about 10am by now so we search for some breakfast from the carts. “120 Baht?! So, expensive,” said Rowan, and we continued to walk. The lady chased after us okay we do for 60 Baht (which is more or less a good price) so we shared a plate for breakfast. It was just becoming more and more noticeable how much of a massive tourist scam these markets were (which is what all the reviews say!) It’s all the same stuff you see for sale at every market, for double the price, but I’m still glad we came. It’s still interesting to watch the locals operate their floating venders and I think it was well worth it getting there before everyone else. After perusing around for a while we decided we should find a way home, I knew there was a bus back to Bangkok, and after asking a few people we found a small coffee vender selling tickets for 100 Baht p/p, perfect!

IMG_1036.JPGWe waited an hour and jumped on the next bus, we fell asleep instantly and woke over an hour later, I checked my map, we were on the outskirts of Bangkok, probably another 45 minutes away. However just 10 minutes down the road he pulls over and yells, “Okay bus stop we are here.” I looked again at my map, we were nowhere near the Bangkok bus station that was agreed to be the destination, but off we hopped. (It just made it feel like the whole of Bangkok is a massive scam)

img_1100We started walking in the direction we needed, looking for a bus or train station. An old local bus pulls up beside us. “Let’s get on!” I said to Rowan. No one could speak any English, they giggled as I made attempts to communicate. From what I could gather this was a free shuttle bus going back and forth to the Golden Palace, so we hopped off there before the bus started heading back in the other direction.

IMG_1103.JPGThousands upon thousands were mourning, all dressed in black and white. The Palace was closed to tourists so the Thai people could pay respect, however it has reached capacity and there were now people in groups outside waiting to go in.

We made our way back  to our hotel laughing at the events of the day. In the end, we paid 550 Baht p/p to have a private car pick us up from our hotel, a private boat chauffer us around the markets and slept the whole journey back in our shared bus. People pay a lot more just to join a group tour! Even worse some people would have paid 2000 Baht for the taxi and 4000 Baht for the private boat, falling into the traps of a 6000 Baht scam! But none the less we were still scammed! It was a scam we couldn’t escape! But that’s a part traveling!

 

 

 

My 3 Favourite Craft Beer Bars in Chiang Mai

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Who knew? Chiang Mai has a craft beer scene! The first day that we arrived, we looked up a few places to eat at for dinner, we decided to go with ‘Lemongrass.’ When I opened the menu, I was shocked to see ‘Chiang Mai IPA.’ The Beer itself was quite easy drinking; light fruity flavours with a dash of a hoppy taste, would be great for those with new taste buds for the craft scene. This then triggered a search for more craft beer and after scrolling through many, many blogs I finally had a list of places to look for. Which lead me to this blog, for you craft beer lovers out there I have narrowed it down to my three favourite craft beer bars.

 

 

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1.       Namton’s House Bar

Even the tuk tuk, drivers got a little lost trying to find this place, I ended up directing them with the map I had. Tucked away in a garden you can see the glowing lights leading to the bar. A chalk board out the front reads ‘No normal beer here’, hanging bunting leads you through a balcony terrace to indoors. Plants hang from the ceiling, candles flicker in the corners, everywhere you look you can see hand crafted arts. Then finally you see a list of 20 imported beers with a further 12 on tap.

img_0527Namton’s was my favourite craft beer bar in Chiang Mai offering a very intimate craft experience. The food served here is more so snack style, but you could easily spend hours here lingering on the wide range of craft beer.

2.       Beer Lab

Right in the heart of Nimman, (which is a huge expat area in Chiang Mai) this is where you will find the upper-class restaurants, award winning baristas and craft beer.

img_0474Think big, think flashy, you can’t miss this place! Beer lab was bustling even at 9pm! The menu is extensive with each page dedicated to a country and their beers – where do you even start?! When you walk in the entrance you have the option to sit on stools at kegs, through to stools at the bar and tables that are spread and hidden, offering some intimacy if you wish. The tables are lined with empty bottles from all over the world and there’s different styles of art work hidden behind walls and doors. The only reason this place wasn’t my favourite? It was TOO flashy. I much prefer lingering in a quite crafty with my journal than bingeing through expensive craft beer in a place most people just want to be ‘seen’ in. You’re very much a table and a number here, there’s no real opportunity to talk to the bar tender about their favourite beer.

14874871_1472317732783814_1143365080_n Here you can order a pint of Hoegaarden for only 280 Baht which is what you saw a lot of people drinking. Prices ranged from 150 Baht to 700 Baht depending on the size and strength and we ordered Heelch O’Hops; a Double IPA from California for 330 Baht with a whopping 8.7%!

14826226_1472317756117145_560807043_nBeers here came from everywhere! Spain, Mexico, Estonia, Sri Lanka, Korea, Norway, America, Canada, Scotland, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Germany, England, Czech, Australia, Belgium, where do I stop!

3.       Craft Beer Factory

Craft Beer Factory is located in a slightly out of town location, just down the road from Namtons. Craft beer factory is more of an upbeat dive bar. There are instruments set up in the corner, (however due to the img_0439kings passing there was no music when I was there) the bar is quite dark with quirky signs about beer all over the place, you can tell it would get quite rowdy at times. The food is tasty and reasonably priced and they also offer ‘normal’ beers for those in the party that are ‘outraged’ at the price of craft beer.

Craft beers here ranged from 230 Baht to 330 Baht and there was a range between, California, New Zealand and Japan. We tried Freshly Squeezed IPA from Oregon and paid 250 Baht for a 330ml bottle. I think you could easily spend all night here eating, drinking and then dancing the night away. I liked that the bar was in a peculiar area, it was like a treasure hunt rather than an expected location and you can escape the noise of the traffic for a while

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Other Mentions

I also checked out Beer Factory, however it was quite disappointing. There was one German IPA, then the rest of the ‘craft beers’ were steins of German and Belgium beer. This bar is also located in Nimman. There’s nothing particularly special here, just another bar serving a few European beers, but hey if that’s what you are after then this is your place! We got a pint of Vedett IPA for 280 Baht .

 

How much one week in Krabi, Thailand cost me. How much cheaper could I do it?

I often get asked “how are you always travelling, how do you afford it?!” As I’ve mentioned before, travel can be as expensive or inexpensive as you like. Let me give you a quick break down of what this week cost me.

img_1214Now Keep in mind that this week was not meant to be on a shoestring budget, it was a bit of luxury without breaking the bank. The first two-three weeks of my travels are with my family, doing family activities staying in family orientated hotels. After these couple of weeks, Rowan and I are back to true budget style backpacking.  For this trip Rowan and I are running off one travel card, so I will calculate our total spending, and divide by two when need be.

img_0674Flight – Air Asia

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur – $150 per person.

Kuala Lumpur to Krabi – $30 per person.

Shared minivan from airport – 150 Baht p/p ($5.50)

6 nights in Ao  Nang (Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort) – 12 000 Baht (6000 per person) ($223 p/p)

This resort was stunning to stay in, our room had a bath tub on our balcony, the rooftop pool was an  infinity pool overlooking all of Ao Nang, the buffet breakfast had the biggest range of food, (which actually prevented us from buying lunch all week as we ate so much in the mornings!) housekeeping would light oil burners after the cleaned the room, the list goes on! Would definitely recommend staying here!

4 Island boat trip – 600 Baht p/p ($22.50)

(we were also meant to pay a national park fee of 400 Baht per person… but we just couldn’t see where we were meant to pay… ?)

img_1176Minivan Ao Nang to Krabi return for Night Market – 200 Baht p/p ($7)

Alcohol for the week – approx. 1000 Baht p/p ($38)

Food and Drink for the week  approx. 1000 Baht p/p ($38)

Shopping – 300 Baht p/p ($12)

Massages (4 of them) – 800 Baht p/p ($30)

Shuttle to airport – 100 Baht p/p ($4)

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Which brings this week to a total spending of $560 p/p including flights, accommodation, food, alcohol and activities.

How Cheap Could I have done it?

After a quick scan on booking.com I’ve found that you can stay in backpackers for the same 6 nights for 1188 Baht ($44.50p/p) or to have a private room in a hotel is 2341 Baht ($87.50 – so $43.75 p/p)

IMG_0663.JPGIf you filled up on breakfast, didn’t eat lunch and only ate 50 Baht meals for dinner then you would have spent 300 Baht ($11.50) – if you wanted lunch then it would be 600 Baht ($23)

Alcohol is of course different for everyone. If you drank two big beers, each day and no cocktails it would be 690 Baht ($26)

And let’s say you do one tour that week, we will add on the 600 Baht ($22.50) I paid for a boat trip.

14708251_10155443407354478_4181292344065764498_nTake a trip to the night markets 200 Baht p/p ($7.50)

1 Massage 200 Baht ($7.50)

And a few things shopping 200 Baht ($7.50)

Airfares and transfers were as cheap as they come already ($189.50)

Which brings us to a total spending of $316 p/p including flights, accommodation, food, alcohol and activities.

You could cut it down even cheaper again if you were only paying for food and accommodation, but where’s the fun in that!

If you would like to read how much the separate meals and drinks cost then check out https://imustgo.net/2016/10/19/cheapest-eats-in-thailand/

I will also be posting another blog on cost Solo vs Accompanied.

Is Grandpa dead? Where’s Grandpa? Oh, he’s brought home two Thai women!

Do you know what’s worse than trying to keep an eye on your 4-year-old sister?? Trying to keep tabs on your grandfather! Poppy has never been to Thailand before, watching him in the night markets is like watching one of the clowns in the carnival that you put balls in the mouth of. Wide eyed and jaw dropped, moving side to side.

14606471_10155442464254478_440278564756074707_nIt’s been a good laugh sinking beers and reminiscing about the years we spent living on his yacht in the Whitsundays. Telling Rowan about manta rays following us and monitors chasing us, the toad races and mud crabs nipping at your feat. But I tell you what, you’ve got to keep a close eye on old Pop-sticle, he tends to stray.

Last night myself, Rowan, Dylan, Dad and Poppy set out to find a few bars and play a few games of pool. We started off at Chiang Mai Saloon and worked our way up to Carnival. We were trying to find anywhere with music as the Country has been strict with its 30-day ban on music, dance and entertainment. We heard faint murmurs in Carnival, which lead us inside, slowly the music started getting a little louder.

We entered into a pool comp with a few locals (fools we were) It was a slaughtering if I’ve even seen one! Like an animal wanting to explore new territory, Poppy started to wander, further and longer gone each time.

14793986_1462342273781360_565157874_n‘Has anyone seen Poppy?’ “No but did I tell you about the other night?” Said Dad. “I woke up at about 4am, thought I’d pop my head in to make sure Dylan and Poppy made it home, (interconnecting rooms) and he’s collapsed drunk, in a sprawled out position on the bed… naked! Then I thought to myself… Is he dead? Should I check? But I heard a little snore so I went back to bed.”

Finally, we found Poppy in the corner with a lady on each arm, we told him we were moving on but he said he was staying. He had a business card from the Hotel with the address on it, so we left him to be.

After a few more beers we head back to our rooms at about 1am. Now let me explain the room situation. Mum, Dad and Ruby are in one room that connects to a suite, that suite connects to another room which sleeps Dylan and Poppy. Rowan and I are on another floor, so the following events I’m about to reveal are stories from those in the suite.

14797340_1462343330447921_2099821586_n1.30am *phone rings in Dylan’s room*

Poppy – What are you doing?

Dylan – Sleeping

Poppy – Okay good

Dylan – What, why?

Poppy – I’ve got a friend with me.

(keep in mind everyone has had a few drinks at this stage)

Dylan yells to Dad – Poppy’s bringing a girl home!

Dad jumps up in his red underwear and frantically starts moving the lounges around in the common area.

Dad- Janelle, Janelle he’s bringing someone back to their room.

Mum – and ..? what do you want me to do ?

Dylan gets back into bed throwing the covers over his head and holding the pillow over his head for extra sound coverage.

*Knock Knock*

Dad runs from the living room and dives back into bed (in his red underwear)

Mum (whom is asleep) – Is anyone going to let Poppy in???

…..

Mum gets up in a shirt and underwear to answer the door to find TWO giggling ladies.

Ladies: Sawadeekah ..sorry for waking you Miss.

Poppy has a big smile on his face.

Poppy takes the girls into the lounge room, where giggling, kissing and shhhing can be heard. The girls only stay for half an hour, but Dad overhears Poppy organising to meet up again tomorrow.

24 HOURS LATER

Dylan asked reception for a pull out bed and has now made the living area his bedroom, shutting off both the doors (considering it has its own entry point and bathroom, he just scored himself his own room for the price of sharing!)

Poppy had a lady stay over last night and she has now taken him out to get a haircut. Let’s see where his love story goes!

 

Cheapest Eats in Thailand!

You’ve got to get brave, get away from the seated restaurants and get onto the streets. Stay away from those Golden Arches on every corner of the world. Be prepared to have grasshopper legs stuck between your teeth and feel the juices explode as you bite into the BBQ grub. TRY NEW THINGS.

img_1068You don’t have to start off with the adventurous street cooked insects, but don’t be afraid because all your friends have told you how sick they got. I’ve actually never been sick due to food or water. Of course there are times to be wary, I have witnessed my brother being astronomically sick in Hanoi 10 years ago. It wasn’t a heavy travelled area at the time; it was the water that we had to worry about. And one banana shake later (with a few ice cubes) he was bed bound for nearly two weeks.

img_1059Now you’ll find the locals are drinking out of bottled water, they’re sure as hell not going to give you the stuff they won’t drink. Don’t let it worry you if the fish you’re ordering is sitting in a cart out the front, that fish was probably caught an hour ago and thrown onto the ice in the wheel barrow. The raw meat you’re seeing on the road, that’s probably fresher than the meat we get at home. There may be a few flies hanging around, but after a quick fry up it will be good as new! Toughen you up as my Dad would say.

Take a cooking class, it really opens your eyes as to where the food all comes from – even in those fancy westerner hotels. You are no exception, same meat, same prep, same dish. A cooking class will take you to the local markets to purchase your food and explain the process they go through each morning to get the freshest market food. IMG_1075.JPG

Even if you aren’t on a budget, travelling is all about experiencing another type of living, and eating local food is what it is all about. Let me give you a little break down of the prices of food in Thailand so you can start setting aside your budget. Keep in mind 26 Baht = $1AUD

Night Market / Food Carts (spring rolls, fishcakes, meat/seafood/veg skewers, crepes, noodles, fried rice, sushi, waffles, ice cream, fruit shakes, cocktails etc)

img_1091img_1069The scents from these carts will wrap around you and pull you in from a distance. These foods range between 4 – 40 Baht depending on the quantity/size. I have eaten some of the tastiest foods in my life inside Night Markets. I’ve also eaten some of the most interesting, but it always makes for a story! You can honestly eat dinner for under $2! Cocktails will be around 90 Baht and big beers (620mls) around 70 Baht. A Fresh fruit shake (you need to try lemon!) will cost 50 Baht.

Local Restaurants (Either off the main road or ones that don’t look all too flashy)

There will usually be a few cats around but they’re usually peoples pets, they’re okay don’t be worried. You’ll find these restaurants will have a specials menu which is generally a few of the popular local dishes. This will include Pad Thai, Pad Se Yu, Fried Rice, Tom Kah Gai, Steamed/ Stir fried Veg. They will be a small – medium portion sizing and will cost 50 Baht.

Other dishes like red/greed/yellow curry, massaman, salads and seafood dishes will be ranging from 120-180 Baht. There will also be carts with fresh seafood, a whole fish (1-2Kg) cost 200 Baht, a whole crab 180 Baht, 6 prawns 160 Baht) A Cocktail will cost 120-170 Baht and a big beer will cost 80-110 Baht. A Fruit Shake will be 60- 90 Baht.

14800700_1459842864031301_565066058_nLocal ‘Flashy Tourist’ Restaurants (On a main road in a high tourist area with nice seating and lighting)

There will be hot plates unnecessarily flaming to grab your eye, hot plates sizzling to make your ears listen in, maybe even a talking parrot at the entrance. Don’t get me wrong these places are still delicious and sometimes you just want some ambiance with a side of decorated carrot on your plate!

An entrée (spring rolls, fishcakes etc) will cost 120-140 Baht. A main (curries, noodles, salads, seafood) will range 180 Baht – 240 baht. Fresh Seafood will be at least 400 Baht (and it’s the same stuff the not so flashy restaurants are selling! Cocktails will be 180-220 Baht, a big beer will be 110-140 and a fruit shake will be 90 -120 Baht.

img_1186Western Restaurants

If you are wanting western food, think western prices, and it won’t taste like it does at home. The steak will be chewy, and you may wonder what meat they used on your burger. Unless of course you find those golden arches!

7 Elevens and Local grocers are everywhere! I also stop in to stock up with a few big beers for 55 Baht. Big bottles of water will cost 15 Baht.

*Tip – Always have a big breakfast even if you don’t feel like it, this usually gets me through to dinner time. And I always make sure breakfast is included in my accommodation! Only pay for one meal a day!

* Any tours you go on should include meals.

Travelling can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be, you can live on a shoelace or a whole boot, you can stick to a budget or let it slide a few dollars. That night you that had out at the club last Saturday,  and the golden arches that you found at 4am. Just think, you could have lived and eaten like a queen in Thailand for a week.

 

STAY AWAY FROM THE GOLDEN ARCHES!

In the back of a Truck with my Grandfather, on an invitation to a local Muslim Village.

Let me first start off by explaining that my current travels are with my Pop, Mum, Dad, Brother, Boyfriend and 4 year old sister! 14625480_10153422599554229_905787902_nThings can get very interesting when your Pop is chasing the girls on the Contiki tour and your little sister has a Thai dancing get up because she’s practically a local here! She’s already been to Thailand over 5 times! Which leads us to this story. Ruby is great at breaking the language barrier and becoming friends carefree, she FaceTime’s them from Australia (yes the 4 year old sister) and organises when we will come visit them again. Yesterday her friends invited us to their local village.IMG_0744.JPG

 

We meet them out front and jumped in the back of an old pick up truck with stormy clouds hovering ahead. It was late afternoon and it was everyone’s knock off time, we weaved our way through traffic receiving many waves and smiles. We reached a small sinking dock and walked towards a long-tail boat, where we watched 8 motorbikes drive onto a small raft like boat and make their way across the river with us.

We hopped off the other side to meet two motorcycle tuk tuks, what we didn’t expect were the baby goats! This amazing village located on Ko Klang island was filled with animals everywhere! Our friend Suda wanted to show us all around the island and stop to meet her friends.

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Our first stop was with a lady that painted fabric to survive. She showed us the way that she would do it (Just think people pay to go on tours to see this!) and how much people would pay for different items, she offered us a small piece of fabric to paint for 50 Baht ($2) and I couldn’t think of a better way to help a community then painting a colourful design! So Ruby and I sat at a little child’s plastic table and used ink to fill in the predesigned pattern.

img_0820We continued back in the tuk tuks for another 20 minutes where the drivers would try and explain as best they could what we were passing, they pointed out a homestay, a school, little shops in homes, people’s businesses, slowed for stunning views and clearly most importantly stopped so I could take photos of the baby animals!

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After making our way through the Jungle like island, I see a glamorous sign poking out, looking peculiarly out of place, our driver turns in to show us an immaculate, secluded stunning resort with the most picturesque view. The resort was called Islanda Village Resort and I would definitely love to spend a night or two there! (I did have a little giggle at those ‘posh’ sort that saw the pictures and booked the resort – thy would have been a little shocked on their journey to their resort!)

We set back on our journey to Suda’s house and just as the sun was setting we just so happened to find a small cart selling homemade coconut ice-cream for 10 baht (35cents) a cone!

Finally we arrived at Suda’s house where she introduced us to her mother and father, they were living in separate houses because they had separated, they couldn’t afford to buy new land so they just built a second house right next door! (Can you imagine that?!)

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Suda took us around her village telling us all there was to know, she walked us over the most rigidy looking bridges and gave us small tastes of food from the houses. Finally we walked down a jetty to reveal a floating seafood restaurant, where the fish were kept swimming in netted water until you ordered them. (Can you get any fresher?!) img_0806

We shared a few light dishes as we planned to go to the night markets after. Ruby chased around a cat that was a kitten last time she visited, she remembered the exact cat and that she name it chi chung, even the staff remembered ruby and the once kitten!

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We boarded another long tail and headed for Krabi Town for the night markets. Which I will tell you all about tomorrow! Suda’s friend came to collect us and she wouldn’t let us pay her a cent! However my pop bought her a soap?! and he gave her that to thank her, meanwhile Suda took us to her friend to book our boat tour for the next day which was substantially cheaper than what we were quoted!