Finally at the Islands!

We had bought a bus ticket to get us back to Bangkok, that was going to leave at 6 am. Our plan was that we would make it to Bangkok in time to catch the overnight train to Surat Thani, and then catch a ferry to Koh Phangan the next morning. Kelsey had brought a trusty little alarm clock from Winnipeg, but sadly it got left behind weeks ago. We supplemented this with a pink, plastic, analog alarm clock that came with no English instructions. We never fully trusted it, but did figure it out eventually. Sadly, it proved its unreliability by freezing at 3:20am, when it was supposed to go off at 5:30am. This meant that we missed our bus and had to buy a new ticket. We should have been able to still catch the overnight train but we were not surprised that the bus was an hour late, and thus meant we had to sleep in Bangkok and catch the train the following evening. We spent the evening on Koh San Road, bought a few shirts, and slept in a very hard bed (and extremely loud room). The next evening we finally caught the train, made friends with an English guy  and unsuccessfully tried to catch up on sleep on the train.

We had been on an overnight train before and both thought it was much more comfortable than the sleeper bus which is why we opted to pay more for the overnight train vs. taking another overnight bus. Unfortunately we were placed in seats/beds right next to the door between train cars which made it a VERY loud night! Katie was sleeping on the bottom bunk and got up to shut the door several times throughout the night. It was also a very chilly ride and there were people constantly walking around. The best part was when we stopped shortly after 4:30am and a woman was yelling out random things in Thai for about 10 minutes straight.

Kelsey on our horrible overnight train

Extremely groggy, but glad to be off the train. We boarded a bus to take us to the pier where we would catch the ferry to Koh Phangan. The bus and ferry ride were, thankfully, somewhat uneventful but it was exciting to sit with our feet dangling off the boat and watch the crystal blue waters as we approached the islands.

Emlin and Kelsey relaxing on the ferry to Koh Phangan

Upon arriving at Koh Phangan, we were bombarded with the usual flock of people wanting us to stay at their hotel. Once again, we were convinced by one of the first beggers and went with her to Coral Bungalows, which proved to be a fine hotel (minus having to pay for toilet paper!). That night we headed out to the beach, which was covered in bars featuring dramatic fire dancers (much better than those in Winnipeg!). We also met a group of guys from New Zealand who we would hang out with for the next few days.

The pool beside the beach at our bungalows

Fire dancer at one of the beaches along the bar.

The next morning, said New Zealanders picked us up on their rented motorbikes and drove us around the island (this had been something we wanted to do but were too chicken to rent them ourselves). We scooted around, found some lunch, and then went back to the hotel for a nap. We met up with them, along with another two travelers from Denmark for dinner. That night was spent much the same as the last. We both braved the fire skipping rope and escaped with only some char markings on Kelsey’s ankle.

Our last day on Koh Phangan was spent relaxing on the beach, even though the weather was not great. We managed to take all the classic beach vacation pictures… jumping, sand-writing, etc. We left the next morning for a smaller island, Koh Toa where we plan to do our open-water scuba diving certification course.

Jumping on the beach!

Enjoying some Thai beers on the beach…

Thailand 2012!

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Angkor Wat!

The highlight of our time in Siem Reap was definitely going to Angkor Wat. Although it’s supposed to be beautiful at sunrise, going that early also means waking up at 4:30am and since we had already made plans to go out with new friends the night before we opted to go for sunset instead. With our condensed timeline we also only had one day to spend there whereas many people often break up their visit into multiple, shorter days. In order to optimize our available time there, we had arranged to have a tuk-tuk driver pick us up at 9am and spend the day with us there shuttling us between three of the main temples until after sunset (approx. 6:30pm).

The sun was already beaming in full force when we arrived and purchased our tickets. Previously, a man at our hotel had advised us that if we didn’t want to pay for a tour guide we could buy guide books there to save some money. However, since Kelsey and I both decided to buy a book, it didn’t really end up saving us any money. To anyone going there in the future I wouldn’t recommend against getting a tour guide as they seem to be very informative and worth the reasonable fee of $15 for an hour but once we figured our books out they were also sufficient and gave us something to take home at the end of it. Upon first glance of just the entrance and wall built around the actual temple, you realize just how grand and breath-taking the sight actually is. After passing through the protective wall and walking the path leading towards the entrance old temple, we suddenly saw…monkeys! Now, I have to mention that Kelsey and I had almost given up hope that we would see any monkeys on our trip unless we specifically sought them out so to see them just hanging around Angkor Wat was definitely a lovely surprise. One monkey spotted a water bottle in the hand of a passerby, went up and stole it from him and, without hesitating, opened the water bottle and began to drink it…this only strengthened my desire to own a pet monkey at some point in life. They weren’t all cute and cuddly though and there were a few times where someone got too close and one of the monkeys looked like he was about to pounce.

After the excitement of the monkeys, we finally entered Angkor Wat. Our guide book suggested we go to the second floor first so we went up and started taking a multitude of pictures. (My camera battery started flashing red right around this time which did not impress me since it was still only the beginning of the day. I had to be a little selective with pictures I took but the little battery pulled through and literally died just as we were walking out at the end of the day.) We explored the upper level and ooh’ed and aww’ed over just how intricate the carvings and inscriptions are before heading back down to the ‘bas-reliefs’. Using our books, we walked around this lower level in a counter-clockwise direction and followed along with the hindu, mythological story engraved into the walls. It was fun to read the story and then be able to spot the different characters on the walls and definitely made it a lot more interesting than if we had gone sans guide or book. I don’t know that the sights at Angkor Wat can be properly described without seeing it in person and being able to interpret it’s history but I will gladly lend my book to anyone who wants to borrow it.

Angkor Wat

The women were sculpted to look more like upper class women as opposed to the poorer, labouring women who would have darker skin.

After Angkor Wat our tuk-tuk driver Dan took us to the Bayon temple. The Bayon is probably best known for having many slightly smiling faces engraved into its towers. Our guide book said that there is still argument over just how many faces there are or were at one point and that if anyone counted them for themselves they were welcome to write in with their estimated number. Bayon has not been restored to the same level that Angkor Wat has been and is still very much in ruins with huge piles of rocks blocking entrances and pathways. While walking around and exploring the maze-like temple it started to pour rain so Kelsey and I took cover inside one of the towers. Once the rain finally stopped and the sun returned in full force we were able to go to our final temple of the day Ta Prohm.

Ta Prohm is the temple that modern day restorers have chosen to keep in much the same condition that all the temples were found in when first rediscovered. The ruins of the temple are intersected and supported with tree roots that have grown into and between the bricks over the hundreds of years since it’s original construction. It’s quite a site to see the gigantic tree roots sprouting out between the ruins and provided for a good number of memorable photographs.

Ta Prohm

The end of the day was supposed to be spent up on a mountain watching the sun set over Angkor Wat but by the time we hiked up to the top the clouds had overtaken the sun and rain had started to fall once again from the sky. Unfortunately, due to the overcast, there was not much or any of a sunset to watch but the day was still a highlight of our trip so far.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

We arrived in Siem Reap from 4000 Islands after what was again, an extremely long day of travel. Our voyage started at 8am, where we caught a boat from 4000 Islands to the mainland, and waited there for close to an hour (as you may have picked up on, we end up WAITING around for who knows what very often). Our tour guide then went on to take all of our passports, because he was going to deal with the border for us (which was also a big deal for lots of people, since in general, nobody trusts someone who wants your passport). But Katie and myself just decided to trust him, because what else are we going to do? We finally arrived at the border and it was several hours of sitting there before we actually left. Another common theme on this trip is being promised ‘VIP bus’ and then it turns out to be a very crammed mini van for 7 hours. When we booked this trip, we asked the man ‘is it really VIP?’ and he said ‘Yes-I’ll show you pictures of it.’ He then showed us pictures of the lovely bus we would be on, and sure enough when we got to the border, there was a VIP bus sitting there!!! We were ecstatic, but the back end of it was open and being fixed. Once they finally started loading it up we were told that our ticket was not VIP and that we were on the regular bus! That was a bummer, but when the VIP bus was officially pronounced broken, and all the people on that bus had to squish onto our bus (some sitting on tiny stools in the aisle) we were happy that we never started on the VIP bus.

How many men does it take to fix a VIP bus??

One positive aspect of these very very long journeys is that they are the perfect place to meet other travellers-nobody has anything better to do and you are looking for any way of entertaining yourself! It was on this voyage that we met our first Winnipeggers! This was very exciting, and it as it turns out, we know some of the same people! One night, we went for dinner and out to the bar ‘Angkor What’ with them, and another day, spent the afternoon at ‘le terrace des elephants’ which is an expensive hotel with a rooftop pool (and you can pay $5 to use it if your not staying there!)

Angkor What?!

Our first day in Siem Reap, we quickly realized that we were going to like it here. It reminded us a bit of Chiang Mai in the sense that there are tons of really nice restaurants with authentic as well as food that we are more used to. We had amazing Mexican food, great pizzas, pancakes, sandwiches as well as a meal at ‘Cambodian BBQ.’ It’s a bit like a fondue where they bring out a BBQ type device that sits in the table and you cook your meat in the center and surrounding that is hot chicken soup in which you put your noodles and veggies. It was delicious.

Enjoying some Cambodian BBQ

Since it is a very touristy place, there are once again, massage parlors and fish massage tanks-and we tried both of them! Within a couple hours of being there, I decided to try the fish massage. Katie sat on the sidelines but did stick her hand in for a photo.

Kelsey getting her fish foot massage

So many fish!

We also both decided to get massages, since they are just so cheap here. I got a head, neck and shoulder massage which turned out to be more of a back massage, and Katie got a foot reflexology massage. At one point, while her massouse was looking at her feet, said ‘You chew?’ Having never been asked whether or not she chewed her toenails, Katie obviously said ‘No.’ Although, I can’t imagine someone would confess the truth if they did in fact sit in their room and chew their toenails!

Before coming on this trip, we had both heard that we would be able to volunteer at the ACODO orphanage while out here. After a couple days here, we decided to look into it, and as it turned out, we would have to commit closer to a week if we wanted to volunteer. However, since the orphanage gets no funding, and relies soley on donations (mostly from tourists), the kids dance every night for visitors, and then expect a donation. At first, this seemed weird to go to an orphanage to see the kids dancing their traditional Aspara dances. We researched it and found only positive reviews about the orphanage as well as reviews from volunteers saying that the kids love to dance and love that people watch them. We decided to go and it turned out to be the right choice. One worker explained to us what ACODO is all about and the kids really seemed to love performing. After the dances, they were coming up to us and asking about our lives and about Canada etc. We both agreed it seemed like a good place for them and that if we ever do come back, we will have to put aside a week to volunteer to teach them English.

At ACODO orphanage

It is strange that the most poor place we have visited so far, is actually the nicest and most touristy. We are constantly approached by little kids, begging for money, but have been told by many people that they are sent out by their parents, and that if they don’t get money, they won’t be sent out. So, tourists are not supposed to give them anything, but it’s definitely shocking and sad to see so many little kids begging. There are also lots of older adults begging, who say they are victims of land mine explosions.

We have also spent some time shopping, and although the shops are nicer here than anywhere else we have been, it is exhausting because all we hear is ‘lady! lady! come in! you want to buy something?!’ from all around us. Katie is constantly saying ‘I don’t know. I will let you know if I find something I want.’ After five minutes of this, we generally leave completely worn out. However, the actual stores are much better and although we still get followed around the entire shop, we feel much less harassed than in the market.

Next blog post: Angkor Wat!

A hop, a skip and a jump through Southern Laos

Following Vang Vieng, we had planned for Vientiane to be our final stop in Laos before heading to Cambodia. Having already stopped in 3 other smaller places Laos but also knowing that Vientiane was the capital, Kelsey and I both thought we had an idea of what to expect from the city. However, we were both surprised at just how big and developed Vientiane actually was. Despite being a bigger city, we had heard that there wasn’t a ton of stuff to do so we had only planned on staying 2 nights.

We got off the minivan from Vang Vieng and tried to find a place to stay. We didn’t have to walk too far before we found a nice hotel that didn’t cost too much money and *bonus* had a mini-fridge. (A fridge is something we’ve never considered a requirement but that we’ve found is a very nice extra to have…it’s so nice to be able to have a nice, cold drink rather than warm water all the time.) We unloaded our backpacks, turned on the a/c and set out to find a place to get some food and pass the evening in Vientiane. After walking around for a bit we decided to get a steak dinner at a restaurant that was actually very close to our hotel. It was a little more expensive than the meals we were used to getting in Laos but the local Lao steak was only 55 000 Kip (about 6 or 7 dollars) and it came with a baked potato, beans, a salad, and a stuffed roasted tomato type thing. It ended up being incredibly delicious and I say it even doubled as a cultural experience since we ate authentic Lao steak!

Our steak dinner in Vientiane.

That night we walked to the night market, a staple in every place we’ve visited. This night market was different than any other one we had been to though. It was almost all locals shopping there where the other night markets had traditionally been more geared towards tourists and the vendors in Vientiane more more like individual clothing boutiques rather than the mass produced t-shirts, bags and jewelry over and over again. While wandering around the night market Kelsey and I finally decided to buy a coconut which we had been talking about trying for a while. It turned out to be a good thing that we only bought one because neither one of us really liked the coconut juice but it was something we definitely wanted to try before going home so that mission is now accomplished.

Kelsey sipping from the coconut.

The next morning we woke up, had a horrible breakfast where I’m sure the “bacon” was actually some sort of canned ham, and then we had to find a travel agency to book our bus to Siem Reap. We had anticipated that it would be a long journey, but after learning that it was 38 hours and, knowing that we had a few extra days available to play with, we decided to make a pit stop in 4000 Islands to break up the trip. Throughout the morning we had also started to realize that there truly wasn’t much to do in Vientiane so we decided to go back to our hotel to see if we could check out early and take an overnight bus to 4000 Islands. We checked out with no problems, locked our bags up in a small room off the lobby and spent the rest of the day wandering from patio to patio, eating and drinking, and occasionally wandering into the odd cute-looking store.

A picture of a tuk-tuk in Vientiane for my Uncle Dillon to see. Although they come in a variety of shapes and sizes this is the general idea.

Finally, it was 6:30pm and we were picked up in a minivan to be taken to the bus station where we boarded an overnight bus to Pakse, transferred to another minivan which took us to a tour agency where we had to wait for another minivan which eventually took us to the boat that we took to Don Det Island.

As a side note, although we’ve always ended up getting to where we wanted to go, throughout the process of getting there we’re somewhat oblivious as to what’s going on. They often stop in random places for extended periods of time, you’ll usually have to transfer buses multiple times and you never really know if you’re at where you want to be or if you still have to get on the bus. In the end it’s always worked out for us but you have to have a lot of faith in the little men leading you around.

As another side note, the sleeper bus had these little cubbies with mattresses smaller than a single bed which was meant to house 2 people for the night. It was ok for me and Kelsey but if you’re a solo traveler you end up snuggling up with a stranger for the night…awkward!

Our bed on the sleeper bus between Vientiane and Pakse

Anyway, we finally arrived in Don Det sometime the next morning, found some cute little bungalows with hammocks on the front porch to stay in and then decided to just rent some tubes and hang out in the water for the afternoon. We had read and been told not to  float “too far down river” in our tubes because the water turns into rapids and then a waterfall but no one was able to tell us exactly how far “too far” was. Eventually we started to feel the current getting stronger and we couldn’t swim against it so we decided to suck up our dignity, climbed out of the river through some random property and walked back through town in our bathing suits. As it turns out we probably could have floated quite a bit further before getting even close to the waterfall but…better safe than sorry . The following morning we decided to rent bikes and bike to another one of the popular islands (Don Khon) which is attached to Don Det by a short cement bridge. We intended on finding a waterfall that was on the west coast of Don Kohn and then biking to the south where we’d heard that on the very odd occasion you might spot a rare breed of pink dolphin. We were successful in finding the waterfall but no pink dolphins were spotted. However, we did go for a nice swim before deciding to head back on our bikes.

We biked past so many cows, water buffalo, and pigs.

We were about half way back when all of a sudden I heard a gush of air and Kelsey squeal behind me. I stopped, looked back and realized that the back tire of her bike was deflated. It turns out some little boy had shot something from a slingshot which had hit her back tire and popped it. I was concerned that we’d have to pay to fix the part but what really sucked was having to walk our bikes back the remaining for 4kms in the sweltering heat. Surprisingly, the lady didn’t seem to care that we brought the bike back with a flat tire so that was a relief. After that the only thing we had energy left to do was to shower, eat, and crash in our hammocks for a bit before going to bed.

There were so many skinny, little kittens. I wanted to bring them all home!

The end of the sunset over the beach in Don Det.

Today we’re leaving Laos an doff to the third country of our trip, Cambodia!

Tubing and Watching Sitcoms in Vang Vieng

We arrived in Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang after a six hour bus ride. We were on straighter roads than we had been previously so it made for a less bumpy and somewhat less scary ride.

Vang Vieng is completely focussed on backpackers-it’s just about the only place where we saw non-locals working at the bars/restaurants, and it’s really only tourists staying in the hostels there. It is extremely small, we could walk around the main area in almost no time. At some point, the restaurant owners must have thought “what do backpackers like to watch? ‘Family guy’, ‘Friends’, and ‘South Park’? Ok, that’s what we will show at our restaurants!” Many of the restaurants have little ‘booths’ with tables near the ground and cushions on the ground to sit on, facing the big screen tv’s playing reruns of the three popular sitcoms. It was nice to spend a few hours watching English TV, while eating our meals and drinking delicious strawberry shakes.

View of the mountains from one of the restaurants

Sugar-filled, strawberry shakes... mmmm

Sugar-filled, strawberry shakes… mmm

The main attraction in Vang Vieng is the tubing-grab a tube, take a tuc tuc up to the top of the river, tube down, while stopping at the bars along the way. If you want to go to the bar, one of the workers throws a rope out to you and pulls you in. Upon arrival, you get a free friendship bracelet-both Katie and I have three but there were people there with probably 30 each! There are also ziplines and rope swings that you can use at the various bars, along with games such as giant Jenga, Beer Pong, and dancing. Katie and I didn’t start tubing down the river (the bars are mainly at the beginning) until 6 or 7, so before we knew it, it was pitch black… we decided we didn’t want to tube all the way since it was getting cold so we went to a person’s dock who was waving at us, he boated us to the shore and then we took a tuc tuc back to town. For the most part, people don’t rent tubes and they just do the bars so we didn’t miss out on too much.

View of one of the bars-the floating little hut is where the workers throw out a rope from, to pull you in.

Sporting our ”in the Vang Vieng, Tubing, Laos” tanks

Ziplining- watch out below!

We also had an interesting hostel experience. We arrived and just found a hostel when we got there, and we decided on a pretty nice one that was cheap. When we were paying, the owner asked that we leave one passport with him (which we have never been asked before). Katie said that she would not leave it so he said ‘fine.’ He seemed a bit snippy after, and we both got a bad vibe from him (we have only had good hosts at our other hostels). Katie decided to look up reviews once we had settled in and there were many people warning us about the owner. There were several instances where something had happened (such as someone losing their shoes and asking the owner if he knew where they were) and the owner threatened to call the cops. That night at a bar, we ran into some Canadian girls who were staying at the same hostel and when they noticed that there were cockroaches all over in their room, asked for some of their money back, since they were going to leave. The owner then said he would call the cops on them! So the girls told us to leave the hostel, which we did the next night.

We only stayed for 2 nights but Vang Vieng is a beautiful city, but definitely geared towards partiers. We were ready to move on, and now, after 1 night in Vientiane (where there is really not much to do), we will be taking a bus to 4000 Islands, which is southern Laos, and is a group of islands perfect for relaxing.

Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

After leaving Chiang Mai, our next destination was Luang Prabang, Laos (a whole new country!). The journey between Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang is a 3 day, 2 night journey which meant that we’d be spending nights in two smaller towns along the way.

We departed Chiang Mai Sunday morning at 10am on a minivan destined for Chiang Khong (a Thai border town). At our first hostel we had run into a couple who had told us that if it was raining we SHOULD NOT take the bus between Chiang Mai and Chiang Khong because the roads had not been repaved this year so it was “one of the most dangerous drives in the world”. Despite our doubts about the validity of their warnings, we still had slight reservations when we woke up the morning of our departure to a heavy rain fall. However, the drive was totally fine, and uneventful — just as we were hoping for.  Along the way we stopped at what was apparently a cashew farm for lunch and also in Chiang Rai where we were dropping three people off and to have a quick look at the “White Temple” (Wat Rong Khun). One of the passengers in our minivan whom we started chatting with was a man from Washington state who was going to volunteer doing manual labour at an orphange in Chiang Rai. Throughout the ride he had told us about the coconut icecream that they sell outside of the White Temple and how delicious it was. Apparently it was too good to risk us passing it by because he offered to buy us our first coconut icecream when we arrived…which was, as he said, delicious!

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Wat Rong Khun “The White Temple”

After our quick stop in Chiang Rai we finally headed towards Chiang Khong. We arrived just in time to eat some supper and briefly explore the small town. That night we ended up spending time with a German couple who has been living in Australia and New Zealand for the last three years. We had a few beers with them at the hostel and then walked down the street towards a small bar and had a few more beers, and that was about it for our time in Chiang Khong!

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Our friends for the evening Max and Sabina from Germany!

Bright and early the next morning we woke up to more rain, had some breakfast and headed to the pier. First we had to be checked out of Thailand by the Thai customs authorities. Luckily Kelsey and I both still had our “departure slips” that we had received when we first arrived in Thailand because those absent-minded folks who had lost their’s had to pay an extra 100 Thai Baht for a new one. Once being processed out of Thailand we got into a speed boat and crossed the Mekong River to the Laos side where we went through more customs to get our Laoation visas. For some reason the visas for Canadians are the most expensive at $42 USD…why?! A few hours later we finally boarded the slow boat destined for Pekbang and then Luang Prabang.

We had heard that the seating arrangements on the slow boats could vary quite a lot. Some boats have only wooden benches to sit in while others have bus or minivan seats. We both purchased a cheap pillow in case we were some of the unluckies to get a boat with wooden benches but, one benefit of being here during the low season is that we all were able to get comfortable seats and our boat was not overpacked.

After six hours on the boat we arrived in Pekbang to spend the night. Kelsey and I were both tired so we pretty much just had supper and crashed early. We had to be back at the pier at 9 am the next morning to catch the boat for our second day of sailing which would be a 9 hour day. Along the way we stopped to drop locals off at various small towns established along the river. It was interesting to see all the little communities but it also took a long time to stop and dock the very long boat every time we made a stop. The scenery along the boat ride was beautiful but it was, again, raining so it also got quite chilly on the boat. At one point in time the rain started coming down so hard that we had to pull down all the tarps along the boat windows to keep us dry on the inside. At another time, we heard screaming coming from the back of the boat, naturally we all looked only to see a female crew member holding some sort of hose that had water just gushing out at her. I think for a brief moment we thought we might get ship wrecked but by 6pm the skies had cleared and we had finally arrived safely in Luang Prabang.

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In the middle of the storm, had to pull down all the tarps.

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Little kids waving and blowing kisses at us as we passed by

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Scenery from the slow boat

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More scenery…it was a long boat ride so we occupied ourselves by taking pictures.

 

Luang Prabang, Laos

After our extremely long journey from Chiang Mai, we finally arrived in Luang Prabang! We had already booked our hostel, Liberty Guesthouse, which we knew was a new hostel. What we didn’t know was that nobody would know where it was! We showed the name of the hostel to the first tuc tuc we saw and after much confusion, he said he could take us. He was also driving many other tourists from our boat and we were the last stop. He finally stopped and said that we were there, but we told him we don’t see our hostel. He seemed all flustered and said ‘go down this street and just to the left.’ We got out (which turned out to be a very bad decision), because our hostel was nowhere near there! We tried to get directions from a travel agent place and after we walked for 15 minutes, found another tuc tuc, who actually went into another guest house to get directions. We had finally arrived!!!!

Our first day was spent walking around, trying out some of the different restaurants (we both decided we like Laos food quite a bit more than Thai food). In general we can get a good Laos meal, such as noodles and vegetables for $1.80. And we also really enjoy the meals too. We also went to the night market, which is similar to those in Thailand but they have much more interesting things to buy. Tons of scarves, blankets, statues, jewelrey, etc. They also sell Laos whiskey which has the snake inside, but we haven’t tried any of that yet (although I’ll need to get a picture.)

Night market

Our second day, we had booked a tour to go elephant riding again and kayaking. Our mahout let both of us take turns sitting on the elephant’s neck, and he became this little photographer man. He grabbed Katie’s camera and was climbing little hills and going up on rocks to get all sorts of crazy angles of us. Our elephant in general didn’t want to listen and was constantly going off in the wrong direction to eat leaves, or baby trees. She also went through this little body of water and would use her trunk to feel what was ahead of her before taking a step. This time though, we actually got to feed her afterwards which was really cool. We bought a bunch of bananas and gave them to her one at a time, which was awesome.

Good elephant!

Kissing an elephant

After the elephant ride, we went kayaking down the Nam Khong River. Our guide was very talkative and explained to us all about the life of the elephants and talked about the village people that lived down the river. We passed by tons of water buffalo and Laos fisherman. He also told us that if we want to see clear water and waterfalls, we need to go to the Kuang Si waterfall, so we decided to do that the following day! After much bardering, we managed to get a tuc tuc ride to the waterfall and back for $4.00 a person (he also waited there for us for THREE hours!). It was definitely worth it because the water was actually truly blue. It was amazing… but I’ll let you see for yourself. 

Next stop-Vang Vieng for tubing!-Kelsey