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Thanh Hoa: Where are we?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Our relief upon arriving at Thanh Hoa a little after 9pm, and finally being off that damn bus from the Vietnamese border, was tempered somewhat by the fact that it was raining, we were in a non-tourist town with no idea where we were, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (save for some disgustingly buttery cookies), we had no idea if a bus would be going to Hanoi that night, or where it would go from, or if there was a hotel anywhere nearby.

As the four other travellers spoke to a taxi driver to try and explain that they wanted to go to a bus station (the bus had dropped us outside one particular bus station, but it was well and truly closed down for the night), Bec and I decided that we’d try and find a hotel and some much needed food. We resigned ourselves to staying in Thanh Hoa overnight, and getting to Hanoi the next day. Mercifully, just around the coner we spied the glowing neon sign of a hotel, and even more thankfully the rooms were decent and affordable.

[read on]

Nameo: One of those days…

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

It was August 14th when we left Vieng Xai. We had planned to leave the day before to head across the border into Vietnam, but were told that buses only leave the border three times a week. So a lazy day was spent in Vieng Xai doing not much at all; Bec giving me a haircut was just about the highlight. Oh, that and buying a shirt at the local market, where I drew a nice crowd of curious women who all left their market stalls to come and watch whilst I tried the shirt on. A bit of gentle bargaining and the shirt was mine for just a few dollars. Three days later I threw it out.

We were disappointed to have spent the extra day there. Normally, we don’t have much of a timetable when we travel; shit happens when it wants to happen, and there’s not much you can do about it. But about a week earlier, we’d heard word that a couple of friends of ours were arriving in Hanoi on the 13th of August, so we made sure we would get to the Vietnamese border on the 13th. From there, Hanoi was little more than 200km away. A short bus ride, yes? That’s what you’d expect, right? Well, those expectations were way off, my friends, way off. I’m talking ‘expecting Iraq to resolve itself’ way off.

[read on]

Vieng Xai: Hidden Disco

Thursday, August 30th, 2007
After a quiet night in Sam Neua, where we relished having a proper toilet, a proper shower, with hot water, and a proper bed that didn't have leeches in it, we caught an early morning tuk-tuk an hour further towards ... [Continue reading this entry]

Muang Vieng Kham: Midnight Expres…. wait, what’s the opposite of Express?

Monday, August 27th, 2007
"Dave! Dave! Wake-up! The bus is here." It was 12.50am, we were in the town of Muang Vieng Kham, and the only bus coming through that little place to take us to our next destination of Vieng Xai on the Vietnamese ... [Continue reading this entry]

Muang Ngoi: United Nations Chillout

Friday, August 24th, 2007
When travelling around Southeast Asia, there's a fairly well-worn path that most people take. And it is far too easy to follow that path from the comfort of a tourist-only mini-bus getting you from one destination to the next. It ... [Continue reading this entry]

Luang Prabang: Like an Old Friend

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007
Ahhhh, Luang Prabang. Once Bec's clothes had dried enough so that she could go outside wearing more than just a bath towel, we wandered the streets as darkness fell and reacquainted ourselves with this beautiful old town. It's a place ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nam Ou river: Water World

Sunday, August 19th, 2007
We strolled down to the boat pier in Nong Khiaw pretty early in the morning, hoping to see if a boat was heading south down the Nam Ou to Luang Prabang. "Hmmm, come back at 10.30," said the guy in charge ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nong Khiaw: Chocolate Water

Saturday, August 18th, 2007
From Huay Xai, we had originally wanted to travel by boat north to Luang Nam Tha. There was nothing we wanted to see in Luang Nam Tha, we were going there simply for the boat ride, which was said to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Huay Xai: Payment

Monday, August 6th, 2007
After returning to Huay Xai and reflecting on the madness of the Gibbon Experience with the others whilst taking a few group photos, we were returned to reality with a jolt when we once again attempted to pay for the ... [Continue reading this entry]

Bokeo Province Jungle: Tracking Gibbons

Sunday, August 5th, 2007
We woke a little after 5am to the sounds of sirens floating through the jungle. That's what they sounded like, the gibbons. Like sirens. Their beautiful singing was a continually rising and dipping note, that soared between the trees. We ... [Continue reading this entry]