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Friday, March 30, 2012

Under water world

On Thursday we went diving!!!! We were going to do our open water Padi course but as we’ve over spent and its been a while since we dived last in Egypt we were unsure if we would use the Padi in the future so we booked to do a morning dive around Phi Phi made up of 2 fun dives. It was fantastic!! So much so that we are defiantly going to do our Padi at some point, as we both will defiantly use it on holidays in the future.

We were up early ready to meet at the dive centre at 7:15 where we were given an hour or so of theory. Our trainer, Cas from Brazil, was an excellent coach. We got on the boat at 8am and set out to the first dive spot. Getting kitted up made me start getting nervous, even though I’ve dived before it feels like ages ago and I couldn’t remember what it’s like. When I had the weights and tank on I could hardly walk. Jumping from the side of the boat into the water was daunting but Cas was dead supportive. When we first got in the water we spent a little while getting used to breathing through the mouth piece just on the surface, breathing through your mouth and not your nose constantly is weird, try it without using your nose for any of it, it’s weird right??!

We then went down, we were told to kneel on the ocean floor so we could do 2 basic skills but unknown to Cas I was getting bitten by 2 fish that wouldn’t leave the backs of my legs alone, I was shuffling around like crazy! We both did the 2 skills required; taking the mouth piece out of our mouths and then back in again, emptying the water out with a kind of suction pump on the mouth piece and emptying our masks of some water. This is the beginning stage of the Padi so when we do it we will have some money off because we’ve already achieved step one! I was chuffed for mister Al, I’d been nervous but mister Al had really wanted to do it but wasn’t sure. He ended up doing fab and loved it J.

Finally we could move away from the biting fish and could explore the under water world. As we are unqualified the deepest we could go down was 12 metres but this was good enough still. We did 2 dives; on the first we enjoyed swimming round the coral getting used to being under the water, we saw lots of fish and right at the end an octopus coming out of a big hole in a rock. We saw it change colour to the background it was against, which was cool. The second dive we felt much more at ease and as we were swimming around I realised why I liked it so much; it’s so peaceful, floating around down there and also it’s really calming that all I could hear was myself breathing, it was cool being able to see the other people I was diving with but not having to talk to them or think of anything to say! On this second dive we saw 2 turtles!!! And a big eel like thing like one of Ursula’s badie helpers in the Little Mermaid! The only bad thing was when I was so preoccupied in seeing one of the turtles I accidently dragged my leg on some coral which was a bit painful for a little while!

When we went to pick up our certificates last night to say we’d completed the first stage of the Padi Cas told us about the dive centre he works at during the summer in Majorca and said that if we don’t get round to doing our Padi while we are away now or if we do it and want a holiday in the future to contact him and he’d sort out some cheap accommodation and some dives for us. We talked about this last night and think we will defiantly be taking him up on that offer for a holiday when we’re home. Its joined a list of loads of other things we want to do when we’re home, which is exciting!!!

We have 2 more days after today in Thailand and then it’s on to Bali. Think we’re going to spend it on the beach, going out tonight and maybe treat ourselves to one last foot massage (we’ve been running loads recently and my legs ache!!!)

I want to go diving again already!!!!!

As always miss everyone lots, lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Saying goodbye to Lanta

From Bangkok to Trang on the train was all in all, a long but good journey, it may have arrived 2 hours later than advertised but after 4 months of travelling around  South East Asia, the odd loose snake and broken down boat, this was a breeze. Miss Alex will testify to it being a breeze as the air con was too cold for her to sleep in, me being the hot blooded male it was heaven. As soon as we stepped off the train we had to brace ourselves for the usual clutter of touts ready to offer us our mini bus ticket to Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta was still 2 hours away but we didn’t mind as we were just happy to be back in the South of Thailand. Koh Lanta is one of our favourite places in Thailand. As the mini van driver was dropping off passengers to their destinations and also packages, miss Alex told me she really needed the loo. This confirmed for me that all my pre bus journey toilet stops, to relieve my bladder wasn’t such a crazy thing after all. Meanwhile our mini van driver seemed to stopping at every other shop to drop off another package. The only thing our very own Postman Pat was missing was his black and white cat Jessie!! We finally arrived at our guest house. We’d stayed here before on our first and second visit to Koh Lanta. The Green Garden is a great guest house with basic Bungalows but the location is the deal clincher. The reception area and restaurant/bar hover over the beach on wooden stilts, also private beach huts available to hide from the intense mid day heat.

Whilst back on Koh Lanta we enjoyed a couple of beach runs, miss Alex and me love a good beach run, the only down side to running on the beach with no trainers on is the tiny shells that can fell any man!! So the break dancing moves were back along with a couple of friendly dogs wanting to play chase with us on the beach. These are the same dogs that stood like naughty school boys whilst miss Alex told them off for running along side us on our last visit to Koh Lanta. Its funny really because miss Alex and me love to people watch, over our 3 day stay  we noticed several joggers getting harassed by the dogs.

We decided to hire a motorbike one day and spent the morning driving around the island. Koh Lanta is a big island but still we managed to ride more miles in 2 hours than we did in one day during our last visit. This is progress on miss Alex’s part as I didn’t have the usual screech of “SLOW DOWN” or “CORNER!!!” or my favourite screech, “THERES A CAR COMING THE OTHER WAY” The key to the bike we hired had a habit of coming out of the ignition. I was lucky to see this happen the first time, pull the breaks, park up on the side of the road and find the key behind us in the middle of the road. The bike was still running without the key, by the way. After watching plenty of Bear Grylls the survival expert I (miss Alex really did) came up with an idea of using string to tie the key to the bike so if this happened again it wouldn’t be lost in the road. The string came from miss Alex’s shorts.

The rest of the time on Koh Lanta was spent on the beach chilling out and catching some vital sun rays. We even treated ourselves to an oil massage one evening. 3 times Weve been to Koh Lanta and I can honestly say I think we’ll be back some time in the future. We really do love the chilled out feel about the place.

Now we are back on Phi Phi, this last week we realised we’ve hit a few landmarks. This week marked our 18th week away from home, Yesterday we had 6 days left in Thailand before we bid a farewell to Bali. Also the day before yesterday was the one month countdown to our flights to Australia. Miss Alex and me have talked recently about loving this part of our travels. I personally love every day as a backpacker being a Sunday, we never get the Monday blues!! But I’m so excited for the next chapter. Australia will be a different kind of travelling. We’ll have to work to subsidise our travels and our return home, but I think I’m ready for that now. Were going to miss South East Asia and in particular Thailand but a closed door will always lead to an open door.

Speak Soon xxx

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The second week of Dave's visit

The bus journey to Kho Chang wasn’t the best; we’d heard rumors of the bus people going through bags in the luggage compartment, ours are always padlocked and we don’t think they had been looked through until the overnight bus journey to Bangkok (we then got a connecting bus to Kho Chang). We still had the padlocks on and they were locked when we got off the bus but apparently they go through the stitching or have a way of opening the padlocks. Anyway when we got off the bus I checked my bag and everything was strewn around the bag and screwed up with bits in different compartments to how I’d packed it. We had nothing taken, we don’t keep anything of value in the big bags, but it made us feel violated!

So we found ourselves in the middle of Bangkok at 5am not in the best of moods. The day didn’t really get much better; after another 6-hour bus journey followed by a 45 minute boat we reached Kho Chang. Kho Chang had been painted to us by other people as being a little paradise with nice beaches to chill on and some good nightlife. We’d chose White Sand beach, however when we got there we were hit with expensive accommodation and commercialsation. It didn’t take us long to realise White Sands wasn’t the backpacker area of Kho Chang so we got out the lonely planet and headed to where it advised- Lonely Beach a 30 minute drive away. This turned out to be not so great either, after a night of sleeping in a bed that felt like it was crawling and then discovering the beach was pebbles we headed to a place in between white sands and lonely- Khai Bay.

This was just what we were looking for; we spent the 4 days chilling on the white sand beach, well actually we spent more time in the sea which was the hottest sea I have ever been in. The temperature in Thailand seems to have just soured over the last week- it is roasting!!! So much so that at times on Kho Chang it felt just too hot. We hired motorbikes on one day and explored around the island, finding a waterfall to splash around in. We hit the cocktail bars- with the boys choosing the weirdest cocktails they could for each other, and found a beach party one night to have boogie, eating every evening in our fave plastic chair restaurant that did the best masaman curry! We went for a couple of runs up the hills surrounding the area, I’ll just say running up such big hills in the heat was hard!!!!

Mister Alex and I have a little confession to make; we nearly decided to come home because where we were staying (Buzzas) had 4 week old puppies and we both fell in love with one. She was the cutest, smallest little thing who for some weird reason was the only one of the litter of 6 who no one wanted. We wanted her, if we had been coming home after Thailand it’s pretty safe for me to say we’d have been picking up our little Sanook (means fun in Thai) from quarantine in 6 weeks!!! The day we left though I went to say “bye” to Sanook to find her being cuddled by a Thai lady who told me her name was something else, guess she got someone who wanted her and could take her home in the end!

We’ve just spent another 3 nights in Bangkok, saying goodbye to the Khoa San Road, eating street food and getting cheap foot massages. We did go to the Grand Palace with Dave, we all had to change into clothes provided as we were all showing too much flesh!!! Mister Al ended up wearing something making him look like he was on day release from the Bangkok Hilton! But when we went to pay and found it was £8 each and all already sweating buckets from covering up (the temperature seems to have got even hotter here too!!) we decided we could see enough of the palace from outside and went for a boat trip down the river instead!!!

Dave left yesterday morning :( and me and mister Alex are now on an overnight train (we are no longer doing overnight buses) to a place called Trang where, hopefully, tomorrow morning we will sort out a boat to take us back to Kho Lanta where we are going to spend a couple of days relaxing. We fly to Bali on the 2nd April so have decided to spend our last week and a half at our 2 favourite islands in Thailand- Kho Lanta and Phi Phi. I’ve just been to the toilet on the train; it’s just a metal hole in the ground and it stinks and I thought although I love Thailand it’s an amazing country, I’m looking forward to doing Bali and then hitting Oz for some Westernization!! Can’t believe we’ve been here for over 4 months now, it’s amazing to look back at everything we’ve done but also sad that S.E Asia is coming to an end, what fantastic time we’ve had though :) I’m never going to forget it!

P.s Mister Al had his hair cut today- he now has a Mohican, he looks cool!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jumbo elephant camp

 On Monday we did an overnight stay at an elephant park. Chiang Mai is known for it’s over night stays in the jungle and treks but we wanted to do one with a lot of focus on elephants and we couldn’t have picked a better trip. Before I continue we are sure the elephants were looked after well, and later discovered that the elephants were taken to the camp due to the jungle/forest being made smaller for development causing there to be less room and food for elephants in the wild. At the park we found out there were 2 new arrivals that had only been there 2 weeks and these were thinner than the rest.

We were picked up at 9.00 on the Monday and the first activity was to play how many foreigners can you fit in a tuck tuck van, when there was 8 of us squashed in the back we thought the driver was joking when he said we were picking up 4 more people, he wasn’t!!! The group we were in though, turned out to be lots of fun to do the experience with. It was a 2 hour drive to the camp but after an hour we stopped at an orchid and butterfly farm (I think this was purely so we could stretch our legs and unstik ourselves from the person we were sat next to!). The orchids were beautiful but there wasn’t really much to see, mister Al and Dave weren’t really that impressed!!!

One hour later the trip really began. We knew the first 3 to 4 hours was a trek (by foot not elephant) through the forest eventually ending at the elephant camp. Well at one point after walking up a massive hill in the mid day heat dripping in sweat I began to wonder if we’d accidently signed ourselves up for some kind of extreme boot camp!!! We learnt the lesson of not going for a fast 6 mile run the evening before doing a trek the hard way!!! It was fun though, at one point we stopped and the tour guide (apparently named Jack) showed us a leaf that when rubbed together created a brown substance that can be used as face/war paint.

Eventually after being told again and again “it’s not far now” we arrived at the elephant camp, all of a sudden all aches and pains were forgotten and extreme excitement took over (see the picture on facebook I was genuinely that excited!!!) I’ve been looking forward to getting close to elephants since we left home but we wanted to save it for Chiang Mai as it’s meant to be the best place- the experience we had was more than worth the wait! There were 7 elephants at the camp in total, which also had some pigs and chickens. The camp was in a sort of circle with a hill set to one side where near the top the accommodation for the trip was. In the middle was were 3 of the elephants were with the others set to one side and round the back. In front of the accommodation was the area where the staff lived and the kitchen, campfire and little bar.

As soon as we arrived we did a short elephant trek around the surrounding area of the camp. There were 2 people to each elephant in a basket but with there being 3 of us the guides said I could sit on the neck of one of the elephants on my own. So Mister Al and Dave got on theirs but then as I was about to get on mine one of the Italian lads on the trip jumped in front! I was gutted but in the end still managed to sit on the neck of one with 2 other guys from the trip in the basket behind me, it was just a shame all 3 of us weren’t on the same. Sitting on the neck of the elephant was an amazing experience (also a little bit scary as I repeatedly lost my balance). My legs were right behind the elephants ears that kept swishing backwards and wrapping round my calf. I was loving it!!!

After the ride everyone was sat chilling and chatting before tea when I noticed the elephants were on their own eating so Mister Alex, Dave and I used this opportunity to get up close to one. She was really friendly and interested in us. A Thai man brought us some sugar cane and showed us if we held it in our hand and said “chub chub” the elephant would place her trunk on our other hand or chest and suck like a hoover (give us a kiss) before we gave her the cane. Talking to the Thai man we discovered some facts about elephants : they are pregnant for 18 months, eat every 3 hours (although it appeared they ate all the time!!), they only sleep for 4 hours every night and can live up to 100 years old.

After a tea of yummy green curry and stir fried vegetables we checked out our accommodation. It was like a thatched dorm with an open front overlooking the farm with 2 floors. As we had spent the free time with the elephant all the beds in the top floor had gone but that suited us fine, as it meant there was only us and 2 German girls on the lower floor. We had mats on the floor with blankets  and pillows and a mosquito net to tuck round. I made sure ours was securely tucked as I saw a massive black spider on the wall near our bed. I felt so proud of myself staying on the camp as I am scared of everything and there were spiders in the toilets, lots of creepy crawlies and I even saw a massive white and orange lizard or snake in one of the toilets that disappeared before mister Al and Dave could get a look. That evening we had a few beers to help us sleep with the rest of the group round the campfire.

We woke early the next day and it was amazing to wake up and have the elephants so close. We went to the one we’d fed the night before to say good morning before breakfast. After breakfast was bath time for the elephants in the river near by. Two of the elephants led the way and just as the second one got in the water she decided it was toilet time!!!! Never in my life have I seen so much poo and wee!!! We reconsidered getting in for a second but then everyone must have thought “when will I get this opportunity again” so we all jumped right in there!!! What followed was a massive water fight between humans and elephants. Being so close to them in the river was an incredible feeling especially when they sat down, they are massive and even though the experience was so enjoyable it was also daunting to be in such a situation. I got to ride on the neck of one again on the way out of the river. There was defiantly a rather unpleasant smell about us when we got out!!!

After a quick shower to freshen up (just wanted to say that so everyone didn’t think we spent the whole day smelling of elephant poo) we did the only thing we were asked to pay extra for-30 baht (60p) for a bag of bananas to feed the elephants. We were really shocked that we were the only 3 to do this out of our group of twelve, but again this was better for us as we got the opportunity to be on our own with the elephants again. This was also when we learnt about the camp as I said at the beginning and how it is also supported by the government as it conserves the elephants (one on the camp was also 16 months pregnant). We were all now much more confident with the elephants and got some fab pictures.

It was now time to say goodbye to the elephants. The rest of the day was spent visiting a water fall, luckily only a small walk as our legs were very sore from the day before, white water rafting which was fun but a little bit tame but gave us enough of an experience to want to try it again and bamboo rafting which we had the laziest driver ever who gave mister Alex the stick to push us along and the raft was slightly sinking. Bamboo rafting wasn’t all that great! The day finished by visiting a tribe but really these were just like most other Thai people but living in the forest (they even had big satellites for cable tv!) There were lots of cute puppies there though who entertained us. On the way back we were exhausted from the 2 days and all fell asleep in the back of the truck.

We had an amazing experience at the elephant camp, for me it was the best thing we’ve done since we set out on our travels. I’m writing this on an overnight bus back to Bangkok and then we are getting a mini bus early in the morning and then a boat to Kho Chang (an island we haven’t yet visited). I’m sad that we’ve left Chiang Mai though, we’ve had a busy fun-filled week, we are defiantly still being “wowed” by the travelling experience!!!

Miss everyone lots, lots of love xxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cooking School

Yesterday we all went to a Thai cooking school. We’d been recommended it by quite a few people all saying it was fantastic and this proved to be very true! We had a fab day!

We got picked up by Sammy (Sammy’s organic cooking school) and firstly headed to a market where we were shown the different kinds of rice used for normal rice with the curries and the one used for sticky rice. We were also shown how coconut milk used to be extracted by hand and how now a machine is used. We were given a few minutes to walk around the market, again we saw a pig’s head on the side which Dave and Mister Al posed for a photo next to.

Sammy then took us to his farm about 30 minutes out of Chang Mai city. Sammy and his wife were such good hosts, greeting us with Jasmine tea and coffee and rice cakes. He showed us all the different plants and spices grown on the farm that we would be using to cook later and also spent a good five minutes raving about his toilet (apparently the best in Chang Mai!!).

We had five dishes each to cook during the day- a curry, soup, stir-fry, appetiser and desert and each dish had 3 different options so with there being 3 of us we were able to make every dish available between us and then try them. So we put on our matching aprons and picked up our chopping knives and got started. Firstly we made our own curry paste using a mortar and pestle (mister Alex and I were the slowest with our chopping) and then moved to our own individual stove to make the curry. Then came the soup followed by the stirfrys so by lunch time the 3 of us had 9 meals to munch our way through- mister Al’s green curry, hot and sour prawn soup and stir fried chicken with cashew nuts, Dave’s jungle curry, hot vegetable soup and stir fry minced chicken with holy basil and my yellow curry, chicken in coconut milk soup and pad thai. So it’s needless to say we were stuffed to the brim after lunch but Sammy had this all considered and we had an hour or so to chill out in his hammocks in the shade.

After a little snooze we went on to make the appetisers- spring rolls for mister Al, papaya salad for Dave and chicken in Pandanus leaves for me (chicken wrapped like origami in a leaf and then deep fried). Followed by the deserts- mango with sticky rice for Dave, pumpkin custard for Mister Alex and banana in coconut milk for me, which was dead simple but tasted gorgeous!

All the food we made tasted beautiful (I know I’m biased but we were all so impressed and proud of the outcome of every dish). Sammy you and your wife managed to get the girl who has been known to burn packet noodles in the pan, live off a diet of chicken nuggets and potato wedges at uni and even managed to set fire to chips in the oven make five Thai dishes from scratch! Sammy also gave us a recipe book to take home so Thai diner party at ours when we get back!!!!

Last night we had a few drinks and watched the football (Liverpool lost to Sunderland) and today we are having a proper chilled out Sunday, as I write this the boys are doing press ups in the other room and later we are going to the Sunday market and getting an early night as we are doing a big trek with elephants and an overnight stay in an elephant camp tomorrow!!! Very excited for this!

Lots of love to everyone at home xxxx

Laos back to Thailand

Tuesday we took a bus from the Capital of Laos, Vientiane to Chang Mai, back in the much loved Thailand. Maybe travelling around South East Asia has taught miss Alex and me to be cynical about transport but we fully expected the advertised 15 hour bus ride to be much much more than 15 hours. Due to check out time being at 11am at the guest house we were sat waiting for the bus to pick us up for 4 hours. In the lobby a young family were also sat waiting to be picked up, with a screaming little girl miss Alex and me looked at each other praying that this family wouldn’t be on our bus. This little girl was sooo loud and the screaming was everlasting. The prospect of 15 plus hours on a bus overnight with this constant screaming would make me want to chance my arm and hitch a lift from the side of the road. Waiting for the bus I went through my normal pre bus ritual of 10+ toilet trips to squeeze every last drop out of me. For some reason the prospect of being caught out and having to sit on a bus with on loo for hours and hours on end strikes the fear of God into me. Even the buses with no toilets on, stop every couple of hours but I still feel the need to go, just in case it doesn’t stop. It drives miss Alex mad as she’s boarded the bus embarrassed whilst I pee and hold the bus up. The bus came to pick us up and the family with the little screaming girl thankfully didn’t board our bus. The journey already felt so much better already.
The border crossing across to Thailand was easy and simple, shortly after the crossing we were dropped off in Udon Thani to wait for another bus to take us all the way to Chang Mai. Here we took our first opportunity to have a Pad Thai and it didn’t disappoint. It was plate licking stuff!! This is where miss Alex and me  met an Italian fella who was in Thailand to send some stock back to his market stall in Genoa. He was telling us during the summer months he is a full time clown. I thougt this was very cool, because I could just picture him with a set of big shoes on and a red curly wig with a big red noise. Another bloke doing the same trip as us was from Australia and he had booked a weeks meditation in Chang Mai, up in the mountains near by with monks. He’d just given up a really good career job working in the mines in Australia because he didn’t want his job to overtake his life. I admired him a lot for that.
The bus left Udon Thani on time and our tickets had miss Alex and me down for front seats. These are the same seats we had coming back to Bangkok from Phuket. There is about 5 foot in front of your out stretched legs. We were even treated to a carton of fried rice each. This was going to be heaven. A blanket was placed on the backs of each chair, little did we know we’d really need these blankets through the night though. The air con was on maximum I’m assuming to keep the driver wide awake.
A lot of shivering later the bus arrived at Chang Mai on time. 6.30 am and the journey had taken 15 hours that was advertised.
After a couple of days of just looking around and walking, taking in the sights and getting our bearings of Chang Mai we booked onto the Jungle Flight trip. Jungle flight had over 20 ziplines, 4 absails (one of them a 40 foot drop) a couple of rope bridges. At times we were 50 metres above the jungle floor below. We managed to get some really good pictures and videos that will be put up on Facebook very shortly. Miss Alex really surprised me, very little screaming and lots of bravery. She threw herself into all the ziplines quite literally. As part of our kit we were each given a bamboo stick with a hook on to use as a brake, by placing on the wire and applying pressure to stop before the oncoming platform. Miss Alex actually thought these were pick axes to climb with!! One zipline I obviously didn’t apply enough brake and hurtled at MACH 5 towards miss Alex and a really big tree that held the platform. I honestly thought for a second I’d bring a new meaning to tree hugging.
Yesterday Dave or David as he prefers to be known, after 15 years of calling him Dave, arrived for a 2 week visit. We met him at the airport. We have a boss 2 weeks planned for him and hope he leaves with the same love for Thailand as miss Alex and me. Its really good to see him again and it made me think about all of our friends and family back home, how much we miss them.

Speak Soon xxx

Saturday, March 3, 2012


The last week we’ve spent in Vang Vieng, Liverpool won last Saturday- it got to extra time and then penalties, mister Al could hardly contain himself but was a big bubble of joy when they won!!! We ended up having a lock in (well the tarpaulin over the front of the bar was pulled down) as there’s a curfew in Laos of 11pm!!!!

The next day (after a little lie in following the excitement of the previous night) we had our first day tubing. I’m not sure what I imagined tubing was going to be like but, although it didn’t disappoint me, it didn’t fully wow me either. Basically tubing is where you rent an inner tube of a big tyre blown up and then get a tuck tuck 4km away to a point on the river. There are bars along the river-side that jut out into the river with water slides, rope swings ad platforms to jump off, the idea is you sit in your ring (tube) and float from bar to bar along the river and end at the end of the river back where the guesthouses are. However, most people now don’t make it past the 3rd bar and most don’t even tube but walk along the river edge! It also seemed to be the place where people could dress and be as weird as they wanted- there was one guy there who had grown his hair, bleached it blonde, wore a purple headband and a long leopard print skirt everyday we went tubing!! And he was one of the people working in one of the bars!!! Another guy was wearing tiny Speedos with a denim jacket!!! I mean I’m no fashion expert but Speedos and a denim jacket??? Really???

Anyway in total we went tubing 3 times. The first day we had a few drinks and made it about half way down the river. The water is freezing by the way and once the sun goes down it gets very chilly!! Our friends Laura and Harry did tubing before they met us in Cambodia and they told us they did the whole river one day sharing a tube so mister Alex and I thought we’d share too. Well guys a lot of respect to you both for doing that!! We were all over the place, could not get balanced and while everyone else was floating along calmly, hardly wet, we were both soaked and shouting at each other to “lean back…. Lean forwards!!!” It also got pretty shallow at points and with Mister Al being first in the tube his back end was dragged and bumped along the river-bed (horribly much to my amusement!!!) There’s no health and safety at all, we’d known before that it can be quite dangerous if people get too drunk and daring but I hadn’t realised how easy it would be to get injured there if you weren’t sensible, there’s really shallow parts with rocks jutting out and no barriers along the sides of the bars so people need to make sure they jump into the river at the deepest parts.

The second day we drank a little but more and swam to and from the bars, we had a really good day and did a couple of the rope swings. However the next day I had a little repeat of the illness I had in Cambodia (not sure what I had eaten to disagree with me so much again), so we had a chilling day that turned into setting ourselves the task of making a video of our travels so far- It’s on you tube titled 2 Alex’s Abroad so take a look!

Thursday morning I was still a bit delicate but by the afternoon was up for going kayaking down the river!! When we booked it we didn’t realise we were going 10km down it!! It was fun though, and as we we’re both in the same kayak and Mister Alex has been dying for a shoulder workout I thought I’d let him build up a sweat and get his muscles going while I sat back and took in the view!!! It was stunning, behind the river there are massive mountains covered in greenery and as the sun began to set behind them the view was breathtaking. Twice we went past 2 groups of water buffalo just chilling up to their necks in the water. It was really peaceful until we got 6km down and reached the tubing bars!! We ended kayaking where the tubing ends back in the town and doing it in the kayak made us decide against doing the whole river in the tube the next day- everyone in the tubes were going so slow and the last half there’s no bars or anywhere to stop. We’re happy enough saying we kayaked it!!

Yesterday we hadn’t learnt our lesson from our first day and again shared a tube, much to everyone else in the bars amusement watching us trying to float past without falling in! We used a couple of the slides and rope swings and made It back into the town for 6pm for the first time which meant we got our deposit back!!!

One thing we will miss from Vang Vieng is all the restaurants with cushions on the floor showing episode after episode of friends! We loved watching a couple of episodes with every meal! One thing we wont miss is the dust! The place is filthy, it wasn’t until today I realised that all the leaves on the trees and bushes I thought were brown and dead were actually green they were just so covered in dust.

We’ve come back to Vientiane today (we wanted to go to the old capital Luang Prabang, but after we are heading to Chang Mai in Thailand and to get there from Luang Prabang is a 2 day journey by a slow boat!) So we’ve opted to travel to Vientiane today and then its an 18 hour overnight bus to Chang Mai tomorrow, It doesn’t sound much fun on the bus but we’re really looking forward to getting to Chang Mai there’s lots we want to do there.

Lots of love to everyone at home xxxxxx