Chiang Khong

The view of Laos from our Thailand balcony

Chang Khong is a wee border town on the way to Laos (or on the way out, depending on your direction). Picking a guesthouse straight out of the LP lead us to Banrimtaling Guesthouse, and a room with such awesome views over the Mekong river and into Laos that I suggested we stay another night.

It was in Chiang Khong that we experienced one of the more perplexing moments of our trip thus far. A Songkran (still going!) concert was being held about 1km down the river, so with some newly made American friends and a half time Chang Khong local we made our way toward the music.

We arrive to find a huge open air stage – the back lined with musicians, the front featuring a few male singers and 8 scantily clad young Thai girls doing sexy stripper dances and grinding on amps. Occasionally a different girl would take the stage to sing by herself and had men groping and putting money in her bra and underwear. We still have no idea if this was part of the Miss Songkran festival, our local Thai friend’s English was limited when it came to us exclaiming “WTF”.

The audience in the field was made up of, almost exclusively, very very drunk Thai people. The males generally old and lecherous; some of the women found the tall white girl (me) quite an entertaining sight and gave me drinks and dried banana chips and danced with me.

Not being able to drink beer has been the biggest hassle of this trip. I’m sure weird stripper show would have been more fun if I was drunk like everyone else. But I think our friend D, drunk and missing his girlfriend, had a good enough time for everyone.

The rest of the night was spent circling our guesthouse trying to find a way to get back to it without passing the 3 barking stray dogs in our path. They were at every turn. Eventually we gathered D and our new friends, along with some bamboo poles, only for the menacing dogs to be gone!

After being smeared with talc and given whisky shots by locals

Of visas and airlines and not flying to Cambodia

The view from the outdoor computers at my hostel

Hello from beautiful Chiang Mai!

The past fourish days have been pretty crazy, as you’d expect to hear from a first time traveler jumping in the deep end of Bangkok.

It’s unfortunate that the biggest PITA so far happened in New Zealand. While we know we’re only allowed in Thailand for a touristic stay for 30 days, no one told us (even when we were checking visa requirements with our travel agent) that we needed proof of ongoing travel. So when we finally got to the front of the check in queue after a 90 minute wait, with only 30 minutes left, and were told we needed that proof of ongoing travel, things started to get stressy. We explained our plans for overland travel but they wouldn’t let us check in without an onward ticket.

So, with our original tickets booked through Flight Centre we were sent to the Auckland International Branch where we were told we’d have to contact our (very apologetic) travel consultant in Wellington.

Long story short I:

  • booked two Air Asia tickets to Cambodia (because they were our cheapest option
  • got to run (sprint) through the airport three times
  • saved the day with only minutes to spare
  • didn’t cry
  • gained one of “those” stories before I’d even left the country.

But wait, there’s more.

Our bags were only checked through to Kuala Lumpur where we were stopping over for a night. Meaning we had to go through immigration, collect our bags, check them back in straight away, and go back through customs. Pretty ridiculous, but thankfully went without issue. And I have a Malaysian stamp in my passport for the hassle.

The worst part about this story?
When we came through Bangkok Airport they didn’t give a flying fuck about our exit ticket. Our friend flew Thai Airways without an ongoing ticket and had no problems.

So it all came down to wrong person, wrong time at Air Malaysia.


* Less sob story, more OMGWTF is this place coming soon.
** My unedited photos can be found in my flickr account if you’re interested. I’ll try to at least flip them to their proper orientation and delete duplicates when I get access a compy that isn’t fuck awful slow.

Melting (Melting!)

Yesterday morning I almost threw up because I was standing over a frying pan, drinking a cup of tea, and wearing a fluffy dressing gown. I started to overheat and wretched a couple of times before downing a glass of cold water. Yes gross, but I promise there is a point to this story.

The point is – if I can’t drink a cup of tea in 19 degree weather then HOW THE FUCK am I going to explore a new city in 40 degree weather?! Also WHY THE FUCK did I decide to go to Asia in the hottest time of year?

Sun over Hong Islands

Happy New Year

The tickets are booked, and even if the passport hasn’t been renewed, the insurance hasn’t been paid for, and the malaria drugs haven’t been purchased come April 7th 2011 I will be boarding a Malaysia Airlines flight bound for Kuala Lumpur and then Bangkok.

The plan is to not plan too much. We want to keep it simple so we don’t feel like we have to rush anywhere.

A night or two after arriving in Bangkok we’ll be on a train northwards to Chiang Mai to celebrate Songkran. Here’s hoping I don’t catch a terrible cold (or pneumonia :) after 3 days of having water dumped on my head.

Song-Kran Warrior
Monks in Chiang mai, Thailand
Songkhran in Chiang Mai 2010