A Travellerspoint blog

November 2008

Welcome to Paradise...(cough)

sunny 32 °C

well hello everyone! it seems like a VERY long time since we last updated but only because we have travelled trough 3 countries and covered about 1000 miles!! I think we left you after our first day in Luang Pra-bang in Laos so here are the updates...

After we saw the monks and went back to bed we got our lazy selves out of bed to meet Jackie and Awie (our american/malaysian couple friends we met up by the border in Laos) and headed out to the waterfall 1100_1762.jpg this was the final of 7 tiers!! it was pretty spectacular! the water was a great blue colour and VERY cold haha...we did plenty of swimming though 100_1772.jpg (jo and jackie braving the cold) and there was an over tempting tree overhanging the pool which had to be jumped off!!

We left Luang Pra-bang the next day and headed on a 200km journey to Vang Vieng further south. the 200km though took 6hrs in a mini van on one of the WORST journeys i have ever experienced! Laos' roads are not in good condition to begin with but when you shoot past a whole section, 1 mile high up a mountain, where half of the road has fallen away in a landslide it starts to make you think! it was just up and down the mountains all the way on semi paved roads...the scenery though was up to a very high Laos standard!

Vang Vieng is a backpackers town!! this is all down to one thing...TUBING!! you get your inner tube from a tractor wheel at the shop and take a packed tuk tuk up the river and jump in! 100_1781.jpg along the river are 7 or 8 different bars packed with other backpackers! 100_1780.jpg where the drinks are SO cheap...the drink of choice for most is the "bucket" consisting of half a bottle of Laos vodka/rice whiskey (about 50% haha) and then a ridiculously small amount of mixer...this costs about 2pounds!!! 100_1782.jpg (jo, jackie and awie) each of the different bars had swings and slides and mud wrestling etc haha GREAT FUN!! needless to say everyone was a little worse for where!

The day after we took another mini bus (3hrs on unpaved roads) further south again to the capital of Laos, Vientiane! and wow...easily the Worst place we have been! expensive, no atmosphere, nothing to see...we had heard bad things but thought we should see for ourselves! we decided we needed out asap...so we went to the travel agents to see about getting to cambodia! well it turned out it would be a 30hr bus of more of the same that we had had in Laos or a 1hr flight to the capital of cambodia, Pnom penh. well for those who dont know Jo HATES flying with a passion...so i booked the flight :D haha. Vietnam airlines was then looked up by jo on the net and 3 pictures of crashes came up 1st - brilliant! 100_1788.jpg it actually turned out to be a decent flight and we arrived in pnom penh at 10am with a full day planned!

we got ourselves a guest house by the lake (shortly to be filled in by the koreans that cambodia have sold it to) and headed straight to the S21 school house that Pol Pot turned into a prison/torture/murder base for the genocide carried out by the khmer rouge in Cambodia in the 70's 100_1790.jpg it was very heavy! what they did to the people there was a full on disgrace most of the time for little more than wearing glasses, they were referred to as parasites! i didnt take many pictures...i couldnt work out the morals of it but i did take a few that showed enough, there was so much blood spilt in the cells that after years of scrubbing the tiles are still blood stained 100_1793.jpg. there are rooms and rooms filled with thousands of Polaroid pictures taken by the khmer rouge (they photographed EVERYTHING they did!) of each of the people held prisoner in the school, they range from month old babies to the very old. the worst thing about those photos is the knowledge that not one person held there survived! we left the museum and headed out to the "killing fields" where most of the people were taken to be massacred. there are mass graves everywhere 100_1801.jpg and bones and clothes still stick out of the ground. Most of them have been fully excavated though and a monument has been erected containing the skulls of all the bodies found there 100_1799.jpg you need to read more about it to fully understand what they did to these people...click this link when you finish reading the blog. after a heavy day we headed back to the lake for a well earned beer and a sunset view of the lake! 100_1813.jpg

We left Pnom Penh the day after since there really isn't anything else to do and we were dying to see Angkor Wat...(Read up) it took us 6hrs to reach Siem Reap and we collapsed in to a much nicer place than in Pnom penh! We arranged with a tuk tuk man to take us to angkor wat for Sunrise the next morning- meaning a 4am wake up call! well i thought it was pretty amazing 100_1839.jpg jo wasnt impressed and asked why we got out of bed haha! the whole complex is HUGE over 100 temples angkor wat is just 1! we went round quite a few 100_1858.jpg
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Jo was finally impressed with the temple tomb raider was filmed in! :) after about 6 hours of temples and ruins we were all templed out and headed back to the hostel!

We decided not to hang around too long and arranged a bus back to bangkok the next day! once again the journey was terrible, they even over booked the bus and instead of arranging another one some unlucky people were sat on plastic seats in the aisle!!! along with all the baggage! when we arrived in Bangkok we though why hang around (with the imminent protests) and literally got straight on another bus to take us south to the islands for some paradise beaches!!! after ANOTHER 12hrs we got to the port 100_1926.jpg and it was raining...not a good start! then came the sea!! 10m waves! it was horrible we were probably the only ones who didnt throw up! no exaggeration! we arrived white knuckled after 2hrs on Ko pha-ngan to a full monsoon, and nothing changed. we checked the weather and it was forcast to stay the same for the next 10 days! in hindsight.....hahaha ah well! we decided to bail out and head over to Krabi on the west coast instead to see if the weather was better over here! so here we are and no the weather is not much better...not as much rain though! instead of the beach then we went for a river cruise 100_1935.jpg to some caves 100_1943.jpg and then to a fish farm! 100_1969.jpg oh and yes i did get a terrible hair cut before we went!! haha got to learn more Thai!!!!

Anyway jo is so hungry im about to be stabbed so enough writing!

Hope everyone is well

Love Rob and Jo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 04:55 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Been a while!

overcast 20 °C

Hello everyone! Sorry its been so long!! We’ve been too busy having fun and hopping borders to get enough time on the internet to upload all the photos and write all this haha sorry to rub it in…
So we made it to chiang mai from Bangkok on the 2nd class sleeper overnight which was way more comfortable than the Chinese version! You have two big seats facing each other and when you decide you want to go to sleep the guy comes round and musters up a bottom and top bunk from nowhere…we got a good guesthouse with a nice pool so just chilled out there for the day after exploring the local area for restaurants and bars. The day after we booked on to a Thai food cooking course for the afternoon/evening! It was awesome!! The guy picked us up from the guest house and took us straight to the market to teach us about all the different Thai ingredients and he bought up what we needed for the cooking…it has to be said me and jo are amazing cooks ha-ha the food we made was SO good! We got a recipe book as well so I’m sure we can give it a good shot when we get home!
After a good nights sleep on a very full stomach we got up early to go off to the most famous temple in north Thailand, Doi Suthet100_1474.jpg100_1488.jpg which was pretty impressive and gave a view of all of chiang mai!100_1483.jpg after we headed down to chiang mai zoo which was a good afternoon!100_1519.jpg
the big day was the following one!...a days trek/all sorts of other things in the jungle south west of chiang mai. First of all we stopped off at a Thai orchid and butterfly farm…for you butterfly lovers there are hundreds of huge/amazing ones in Thailand! From there we headed in to the foothills of the mountains to visit some of the hill tribes, most notable were the long neck tribe!100_1537.jpg The women of the tribe get bronze rings round their necks each year from the age of 5 until 45!!100_1554.jpg The more rings means the more beautiful the woman…Jo had a go with a half ring thingy and the weight of even that was madness!100_1552.jpg After looking round the villages we headed in to the forest on an ox cart100_1564.jpg for a trek to a big waterfall2100_1537.jpg and close by was the elephant camp! Elephants are brilliant! We both loved the trek on the elephants100_1622.jpg…Jo sat in the saddle while I was the mahout for the day!! So I was sat just behind the elephants head with my legs behind its ears100_1618.jpg, luckily I didn’t have to do much driving as she followed the herd pretty well, not that I could have stopped her from doing anything, even for the smaller Asian species they are MASSIVE!! After the elephants we jumped in to the “bus” (bus meaning Toyota pickup with benches in the back) and headed for the river for an hour of white water rafting!! After 30seconds of instructions we were off with some crazy looking thai guy steering the boat through some pretty decent size rapids! They gradually got smaller and the white water turned in to a more comfortable ride than the “bus” to the start!!
So we got back that night and decided it was time to get a move on so I went off on the back of some kids motorbike to the bus station and booked us two tickets to chiang kong (the thai border town with Laos) the journey was horrible from the start when the bus broke down and turned our 7 hour bus into 9! The ride was the worst bit about it, it was so bumpy we were almost thrown from our seats every 5mins…naturally Jo slept for pretty much the WHOLE journey! We got there just in time to hop the border before it closed for the night and after I envisaged huge queues we were in Laos and watching the sun set over Thailand across the river from the rooftop bar of our 1.50 per night hostel!100_1637.jpg That night we booked our luxury *cough* two day cruise down the Mekong river to Luang Prabang (Laos’ second city)100_1644.jpg we could have taken a speed boat and done it in 6hours but the fatality record spoke for itself on that one!! So the first day we did 7hrs on the river and stayed the night in Pak Beng- a little village of 200 people that gets as many tourists in every night…strange place! The whole thing was totally organized to Laos standards = Ridiculous!! I spent almost an hour searching for my bag off the boat and it turned out some local guy had snuck past me with it and took it to the top of the gangway…then wanted money for taking it for me! Obviously being a tight arsed Yorkshire man I flat refused and wrestled my bag from the bloke! So then after another 7hours on the river yesterday, which has to be said, although it’s a long time the scenery is AMAZING for 100% of the time100_1700.jpg, we arrived in france with palm trees! Its very strange…baguettes, la vache qui rit cheese (cow cheese), coffee shops and French signage after traveling two days through nothing but mountains and jungle!100_1712.jpg But it’s a really nice place, a lot of up market stuff for you guys with some spare cash. They do however have a bowling alley!! So after tea on sunday with a few from the group of 20 we met on the boat we headed down to see if we matched up to the locals!100_1707.jpg Yesterday we just walked around the town and the peninsula and today we’re planning on heading to a 7 tier waterfall just south of the town…we can hire a tuk tuk to take us and wait then bring us back for $2.50 each…brilliant! tomorrow we have our bus tickets booked to take us south to a little backpacker town called Vang Vieng to do some tubing on the river (a river lined with bars!!! Haha)
Anyway hope that filled a gap in whats been happening! But its time for breakfast after getting up at half 5 to see the monks walking around to collect their donations of food...300 of them!100_1739.jpg
Hope you’re all going good back home
Lots of love Rob and Jojo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 20:10 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The bridge over the river Kwai

semi-overcast 30 °C
View Rob and Jo's Adventures on rob_harvs's travel map.

afternoon all!

apparently its been ages since our last update (according to my dad apparently hes getting withdrawl symptoms! haha) Well we headed out to Kanchanaburi on monday on the train 100_1394.jpg100_1395.jpg and stayed a couple of nights on a floating raft house which was interesting to say the least!100_1433.jpg it was easily the worst place we have stayed so far but for 1.50 a night it was good on the old budget!! it was really dark and dingy and the toilet and shower just ran straight in to the river which i wasn't too impressed about...but thats the reality i suppose! We got up in good time for a change and went over to the death railway museum to brush up on our history before we saw the bridge etc...that was really good and informative! we then headed accross the street straight in to the POW cemetary100_1411.jpg for british, dutch and australian POW's who died building the railway (mostly all from lack of food and basic medical care!)...we spent some time walking around and seeing that most of the guys were about my age was pretty humbling! so then we embarked on a walk to the bridge which did NOT seem that far in the book but in 30 degree heat what turned out to be about 1k was tough!!100_1415.jpg we got to the bridge though and if we hadn't been to the museum i suppose it would just have been a bridge but its massive!!100_1417.jpg and to say they had to do it in a 5th of the time they estimated it would take was very impressive! then to cool off we hired a long tail boat down the river Kwai which was a bit more light hearted than the rest of the day!! 100_1431.jpg100_1434.jpg100_1436.jpg100_1440.jpg
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We have been back in bangkok for the past couple of days staying on Khao san rd the major backpacker area waiting for our train up north to chiang mai tonight...arriving at 9am tomorrow!!

hope you're all well!!! Lots of love Rob and Jojo xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by rob_harvs 22:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Bangkok

sunny 30 °C
View Rob and Jo's Adventures on rob_harvs's travel map.

Helllooha…jo this time so it’ll be short and very sweet :)..

Well I was quite sad to leave Hong Kong as I LOVED it shops, shops and more shops!! We arrived into Bangkok after a rather bumpy flight (by my standards, rob slept WHOLE way) on Friday morning. Cathay Pacific are so good, nicest plane I have been on!! After getting a bus and taxi to the hostel, we were pleasantly surprised as we were given the key to our APARTMENT!!100_1357.jpg A tenner a night well spent, ensuite modern bathroom, kitchen, living room with plasma t.v, massive bedroom, swimming pool and gym!! After getting settled and unpacking AGAIN :( we headed to the backpackers area of Khao san road 100_1359.jpgwhich has a 24 hour market :) and there was a street party ging down for Halloween, so really good atmosphere and got chatting to a few English lads in one of the bars, wink wink!! We braved the street food and tried pad thai which is basically a thai stir fry and was actually really nice for 40p!! We then proceeded to have a second t?!! which was under a fiver for the two of us, including drinks!! The thai green curries are SO nice! The weathers very warm and suny, sorry to rub it in I am sure your all loving the rain!!

Today we headed to a couple of temples, I particularly enjoyed the reclining Buddha100_1372.jpg at wat po which was ABSOLUTELY HUGE.. kinda lazy tho!! It was 45 m long and covered in gold, wish I d brought the big bag zo!!100_1386.jpg100_1387.jpg100_1389.jpg The temple of dawn was a mosaic of coloured tiles, outstanding! We then got the boat back across the river for 5p but thought we d go all out!!100_1362.jpg We bartered with one of the local tuk tuk drivers to escort us back to the hostel, quite an experience with no seat belt!100_1393.jpg A lounge around the pool was in order.. were thinking about heading to patong tonight to google a few lady boys!! Tomorro we are going to take a river cruise and visit the grande palace before we head to kanchanaburi and the river kwae on mon afternoon for a night.

Will update soon.. missin you all lots
Much love JO and rob! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

A couple of pics of me on the train and the train toilet...the pic speaks for me!!
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p.s the picture of rob in a mask100_1282.jpg is when we arrived into hong kong train station and they pulled him aside obviously cause he looked dodgy and did 'tests' for bird flu.. yes the rubber gloves came out!! His temp was 0.3 degrees up so they gave him a mask and told him to get medical help asap lol!! and here are the pics from terracotta warriors100_1222.jpg100_1245.jpg100_1250.jpg100_1251.jpg100_1256.jpg, big wild goose pagoda in Xi'an100_1270.jpg100_1279.jpg, hong kong views 100_1286.jpg100_1307.jpg100_1354.jpg100_1308.jpg100_1343.jpgand the Giant Buddah (including a guest apperance from robs friend Olly)100_1315.jpg100_1330.jpg100_1336.jpg

Posted by rob_harvs 02:25 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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