Day 21 - Bangkok to Manchester

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Day 21 - Bangkok to Manchester

My last day before the 18:55 China Southern flight back home. Took a river boat over to the Thonburi side of the river and wandered around the markets. 

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20 baht con men in tuk tuks 

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Fed some fish

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Had the best meal. If the holiday at Steve's in the banks of the Chao Phrahya 

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It really has been a great trip. 

Took a taxi to the airport. 270 baht and waited for my flight back home. Just looked at the forecast 1 degree centigrade.  That's just nasty.  

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Day 20 - Ayutthaya

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Day 20 - Ayutthaya

Another place I've never made it to in previous visits. I took a train from Hualamphong railway station at a cost of fifteen baht,  about 30p. It took one hour and forty five minutes to get to Ayutthaya the former capital of Thailand. 

I hired a mountain bike and ride around the ruins in the historical park for about three hours. 

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Tree 

Tree 

It was a nice place

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Day 19 -  Luang Prabang to Bangkok

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Day 19 - Luang Prabang to Bangkok

The flight with Air Asia was at 15:50 so I had till just after lunchtime to wander around Luang Ptabang 

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The bamboo bridge I walked across yesterday was no more today, Wales away. By the volume of water I guess they opened a dam upstream 

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Visited a few of Luang Prabang s many wats

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More wandering 

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Bill very kindly gave me a lift to the airport. It was sad to be leaving Laos.  I fall in love with this country each time I visit. I'll be back. 

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Arrived in Bangkok and got a taxi to Tara Place. Eat some Pad Krapow Moo drank a couple of Leo beer and early to bed. 

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Day 18 - Luang Prabang

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Day 18 - Luang Prabang

Cycling around Luang Prabang today and was kindly offered a bicycle free of charge by Bill at Golden Lotus Place. 

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Luang Prabang is on a peninsula at the confluence of two rivers. It's pretty flat so riding is easy even in the 32 degrees heat. 

I crossed the bamboo bridge and had a Beer Lao.  

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Here are some of the things I saw. 

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An old Citroën Travant Avant 

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The bamboo bridge

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The river from the bamboo bridge

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Mount Phousi 

Went to L'Elephant which I has wanted to for years. It was great. Wonderful French food in a land of rice. 

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A good day. 

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Day 17 - Nong Khai to Luang Prabang

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Day 17 - Nong Khai to Luang Prabang

Back on the bus today. I decided to walk to the bus station it's a half hour stroll from my guesthouse. This time it's a big bus rather than a minivan and it's an old clapped out Chinese thing. It did the trip in three hours without a stop which is unusual. 

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After checking in at Golden Lotus Place I wandered round town all afternoon decided to have a couple of cocktails and dinner at Tangor. 

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A final Beer Laos on the banks of the river and early to bed. 

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Day 16 - Muang Ngoi Nuea back to Nong Khiaw

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Day 16 - Muang Ngoi Nuea back to Nong Khiaw

After a relaxing afternoon in the hammock it was hard to leave Muang Ngoi as it's such a beautiful place. 

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I had lunch at Alex Restaurant when I arrived back at Nong Khiaw and and later in the hammock at Sunset bungalows until it was time for happy hour at Q Bar. The Passion Khiaw here are great, a mix of Lao Lao and passion fruit. Dinner was Chilli chicken, roti and a Mango Lassi 

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Day 15 - Muang Khua back to Muang Ngoi Nuea

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Day 15 - Muang Khua back to Muang Ngoi Nuea

Really dull Laos town is Muang Khua. Poor choice of guesthouses and to be perfectly honest I couldn't wait to get back to Muang Ngoi. The boat was at 09:30 and cost 100,000 kip to my dismay no seats on this one just a plank 5 inches of the floor 

Muang Khua boat dock

Muang Khua boat dock

The scenery is worth it though and we passed some Vietnamese Heath Robinson boats dredging for gold

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Arrived back in Muang Ngoi at 12:45 and went back to Nicksa's Place for Beer Laos and cocktails to watch the sunset from my hammock 

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Up the Nam Ou to Muang Khua

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Up the Nam Ou to Muang Khua

It's a four hour boat journey. This boat has car seats attached and I get one.  This makes the journey much less back breaking than the ones with planks. 

The views of the mountains for the first hour are amazing

Leaving Muang Ngoi 

Leaving Muang Ngoi 

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We stopped on the way several times to drop off things and buy some fish

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Muang Khua is nothing to rate about, I think I'll only stay one night and start making my way back to Luang Prabang slowly. 

Muang Khua

Muang Khua

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Day 13 - Muang Ngoi Nuea

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Day 13 - Muang Ngoi Nuea

Today I did absolutely nothing. 

 

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I swung around in the hammock looking at the scenery and reading. I took a stroll to a nearby Hong village, ate Papaya salad and Khao Soy a d that was about it.

A very relaxing day in beautiful countryside  

Gecko Bar

Gecko Bar

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Day 12 - Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua

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Day 12 - Nong Khiaw to Muang Ngoi Neua

Rose early again and had a wander around town in order to find some breakfast. Had a very good egg baguette by the boat dock. 

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I caught the 11:00 boat to Muang Ngoi Nuea which was 25,000 kip and took about an hour up the Nam Ou. 

 

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Muang Ngoi is in a fantastic location on the banks of the Nam Ou surrounded by towering line stone karsts. It's only got one road about 400 metres long.  That's it

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Spent the afternoon in the hammock reading and taking in the views. 

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Day 11 - Nong Khiaw

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Day 11 - Nong Khiaw

This really is a wonderful part of the world. Had an egg but tie for breakfast and decided to go to the viewpoint overlooking Nong Khiaw. I left about 08:45 to avoid the sun, it was a good idea. It took one hour and a half to reach the summit but boy was it worth it. 

Looking down on Nong Khiaw 

Looking down on Nong Khiaw 

Everything was shrouded in mist but soon cleared.  It was special. 

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Went for a post climb beer across the bridge at about midday. 

My bungalow is the third from the right of the ones overlooking the river

My bungalow is the third from the right of the ones overlooking the river

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Day 10 - Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw

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Day 10 - Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw

Civilised start at 08:30 from Luang Prabang for the four hour minivan journey to Nong Khiaw.  Noodle soup for breakfast and a tuk tuk to the bus station 

 

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Four hour minivan was the slowest ever. Soon cottoned on he was a learner driver being instructed by the other guy in the front seat. 

Nong Khiaw is stunning.  

 

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This was why I travelled all this way the next week is going to be amazing. 

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Day 9 - Kayaking down the Nam Ou

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Day 9 - Kayaking down the Nam Ou

I decided to book an all day Kayaking trip for five hours down the Nam Out river. We took a tuk tuk for about an hour to the launching point. There were four of us in two double kayaks a French man a Canadian man the guide and me 

 

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The scenery was absolutely stunning. The river was quite low but there was plenty of water. 

After about two hours we stopped at Pakistan Out where there are thousands of buddha statues.  

We had lunch here of tilapia and sticky rice and spicy bamboo shoot 

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Three more hours Kayaking in the now scorching sun through dramatic limestone scenery and a short tuk tuk ride to Luang Prabang. I spent the evening eating tom yam and barbecued chicken on the banks of the Mekong washed down with the obligatory Beer Laos

Earliervin the day I visited the morning market just outside my guesthouse  

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Day 8 - Phonsavan to Luang Prabang

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Day 8 - Phonsavan to Luang Prabang

It was a tiring day. There are no flights on this route so its either a six and a half hour minivan or an eight hour bus.  I took the minivan which was 110,000 kip. 

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The road was all hairpin bends through the mountains and there are no flat straight bits.  It's the Maehongson loop on steroids. 

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Stopped for noodle soup lunch and arrived at Golden Lotus Place guesthouse in Luang Prabang at about 15:00

The night market was just settling up so had a look around but mainly tourist tat. 

Few beers at Tangor followed by filet mignon with fries and veg and a lemongrass cream sauce. The wine is good here in Luang Prabang so had a couple of glasses of nice redon the  balcony. 

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Day 7- Plain of Jars

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Day 7- Plain of Jars

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The main  thing to do in Phonsavan is to visit the mysterious Plain if Jars. These date from about the second millennium BC. 

They are thought to be funerary jars associate with cremations and bones and teeth have been found in them. 

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Many of them have been damaged by Chinese raiders and the cluster bombs dropped by the US in the Secret War. 

There are three main sites the furthest being Site 3 which takes about an hour to get two. We took six hours to see all three.  

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There are hundreds scattered around the sites and a cave in one with hand made holes in the roof which is reckoned to be a crematorium.

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Day 6 - Vientiane/Phonsavan

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Day 6 - Vientiane/Phonsavan

Today is all about getting to Phonsavan in the east of the country 

Had a lie in this morning until about 07:00 before search some rice soup with pork for breakfast. Then jumped on the bike to try and find the little cafe near Pha Ngum fountain were I uses to have Lao Coffee each morning when I was here last in 2005. It was still there.  

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After a couple of headed of to take the bike back to the rental shop and pack for the journey to Phonsavan 

The journey is a 10 hour bus ride or a half hour flight. The airport is only 5k outside town so taking an 80USD flight Was the obvious way to go. I didn't need to be at the airport until 14:00. So a couple of Nabgkhom special brew at Chokdee Belgian beer bar. 

The tuk tuk to the airport was 40,000 kip and check in easy.  

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I was the only westerner and half an hour later I was in Phonsavan. 

Another tuk tuk into town for 30,000 kip and I checked into Nice Guesthouse for  80,000 kip.  

I had a wander around this small town only one real road.  I needed to book a bus ticket to Luanda Prabang and on Monday and a tour to the Plain of Jars for tommorow.  The bus was 130,000 kip and a day long tour of the three jar sites 200,000 kip. 

I took a couple of Beerlao at Craters before heading out to find some dinner. 

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There was a little Indian place called Nisha just up the road from the guesthouse. The food one of the best currys I've ever had. 

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Day 5 -  Vientiane

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Day 5 - Vientiane

Between 1964 and 1973 the US army dropped over two million tons of ordnance on Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. Of the more than 270 million sub-munitions, 80 million failed to explode. The nightmare continues to this day: one person is killed or injured almost everyday by unexploded ordinances (UXO) in Laos. The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) is a non-profit based in Vientiane that runs rehabilitation centres aiming to provide care and support to UXO survivors, including orthotic and prosthetic devices and physiotherapy. (text from Travelfish) 

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Day 4 - Nong Khai / Vientiane

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Day 4 - Nong Khai / Vientiane

Walked home last night through the middle of a drugs bust in the house next door to my guesthouse. The boys in brown had five kids on the floor with guns trained on them. Yaba, a type of methamphetamine apparently. Exciting times in Nong Khai

Guesthouse owner gave me a lift to the Friendship Bridge on his motorbike which was very kind. 

Got stamped out of Thailand and took the 15 baht bus across to the Laos side. 

Three windows 1, 2 and 3. Collect immigration forms by knocking on window 2. Fill forms in and hand in with passport and 35USD at window 1. Collect passport with Laos visa at window 3. Laos logic!  

Took a 250 baht tuk tuk to Vientiane Star Hotel. About 20 kilometres.  

Arrived at about 09:45 too early to check in. 

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Decided to go for a wander along the Mekong. Went to Ban Vilaylac for lunch. The spicy Lao sausage was great. 

In the evening I went to Bor Pen Nyang a great rooftop bar for a couple of G&T's. It's got a great view over the night market and the Mekong river. 

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Eat pork and ginger stir fry at a no name restaurant on Quay Pha Ngum and finished off with a couple of Lao black rice beer at Chokdee cafe chatting to a couple from Chiang Mai over for a visa run

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Day 3 - Nong Khai

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Day 3 - Nong Khai

 

Today I rose with the sun at 06:00 and took breakfast at a street food place by the Wat overlooking the Mekong. I had Joke (congee) sitting on a little stool. 

The owner of the guesthouse lent me a bike and  I cycled to the sculpture about 3k away. It was 08:30 when I left but it was 32C already. Thankfully it's flat as a pancake so the heat was the only problem.  

I spent a couple of hours there and fed the fish


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Afternoon was spent lazing on the banks of the Mekong, eating and reading. My first really relaxing day with no travel

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Day 2 -  Nong Khai

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Day 2 - Nong Khai

After twelve hours sleep and a leisurely breakfast the minivan picked me up and it's off to the low cost carrier airport Don Muang for the 12:20 one hour Nok Air flight to Nong Khai in Issaan in the North East of the kingdom. 

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Nong Khai is a sleepy town on the edge of the Mekong with views across to Laos. 

The bus dropped me off at Mother and it's a five minute walk along the cycle path on the edge of the river to The Rim Guesthouse  

My room overlooks the Mekong and the old gent who owns it is very kind and chatty  

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A few beers on the afternoon and a noodle soup. Tommorow I will hire a bike but today is all about relaxing and acclimatisation. 

Today is Loy Krathong, a Buddhist festival when Krathongs are lit and floated down the river. Here the main floating spot is a Wat near my guesthouse.  

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Once the festivities have finished I walk back into town to Mackys on the riverside and eat Moo Pad Krapow and a few more beers. 

A very relaxing day.  

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