With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Archive for January, 2010

Bat Temple

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 24, 2010

January 23, 2010

All Pictures

Our Meetup logo

Out of Bangkok

Mark and I met at a Meetup.com event in Seoul during the last Chinese New Year. Events on Meetup.com are great venues to meet new people who share common interests.

When we moved to Thailand, Mark and I joined some Meetup groups to explore Thailand and make some new friends. But the few traveling groups are no longer planning events. So Mark and I started our own group. This trip was our first event as a group, though only one person showed up.

John was a great member to have on a trip. He speaks Thai and knows his way around Thailand. Mark and I planned the trip, but John knew more about what to do. I hope he joins us on many more trips.

turtles at the bat temple

I don’t have enough gas for today.

After wandering around the bat temple, John, Mark, and I wanted to take a boat back to the town of Chachoengsao. There was a dock by the temple. At the dock there was a parked boat, and in the boat was a boat driver. John, using his Thai skills asked him how much it would cost for him to take all three of us back into town.

He said the price was 1,500THB. We thought that this was a bit much since it would only cost us 18THB per person to take a songtow back; not to mention that it cost us 61THB per person to get here from Bangkok.

The long-boat guy wined and said something about gas being expensive and that he didn’t have enough gas for the day. This didn’t make any sense. He even showed us his gas as if it would add to his credibility.

See. This is all the gas I have…

I gotta be on a boat.

We had decided, before we even got to the temple, that we were going to boat down the Bang Pa Kong River. John managed to talk him into just boating us around in a circle for about half an hour and only charging us 500THB total. He actually ended up taking us around for about an hour and a half. He even stopped off at a little island market.

Delicious Grilled Coconut

Grilled Coconuts

We walk through a coconut farm and Mark became obsessed with stealing a coconut. But stealing one proved to be a lot harder than it looked. Mark had been watching Survivor: Cook Islands. One contestant, Ozzy, made getting coconuts look way too easy.

Mark tried to climb a coconut tree, but he could not get off the ground. Then he tried to throw things at the coconuts to knock them off. But he could not throw high enough. He even tried yelling at the coconuts. They would not listen to him.

Eventually Mark had to give up and just buy one. They sold grilled coconuts at the market. Personally I don’t like the taste of coconut water. To me, it has the flavor of coconut and unsalted sweat. But the water from these grilled coconuts were great; plus it was a hot day, the coconut water was cold, and it only cost 5THB.

A Temple that Sparkles

Later we walked about in the town of Chachoengsao. We happened upon the Wat Sothorn Wararam Worawihan. This was the most beautiful temple I have ever seen. It was so sparkly. I had to take a video of it since the sparkles didn’t show up in any of my photos.

There were many people on the temple grounds. Most of them were stretching and exercising. It seemed like a great place for people to run and workout without a chance of being hit by a car. Unfortunately there were too many scooters zooming around to make the area completely safe.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Chachoengsao
(ฉะเชิงเทรา)

How to get there:

  • 13°43’43.5″N 101°18’53.7″E

From Bangkok –

The driver of the van will drive as if he thinks he is in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. It scared the heck out of me, but Mark and John seemed not to mind.

Downloads:

Notes:

  • There are hardly any buses that  go around the town.
  • The main way to move around here is by tuk-tuk or songtow.

Bang Khla
(บางคล้า)

How to get there:

  • 13°43’43.4″N 101°12’26.8″E

From Chachoengsao Bus Terminal –

  • Take a red songtow to Bang Khla.
  • It’s the last stop.

If you are not at the bus terminal,

  • just flag down any red songtow heading toward Bang Khla.
  • The red ones seems to run between Bang Khla and the Chachoengsao Bus Terminal.

The songtow will cost about 18THB per person.

Website

Notes:

There is not much to do in this town, but there is a floating market. Of course, this is Thailand; there are floating markets everywhere!


Wat Pho Bang Khla
(Bat Temple)
(วัดโพธิ์บางคล้า – ค้างคาวแม่ไก่)

How to get there:

  • 13°43’17.9″N 101°12’09.6″E

From where the songtow drops you –

  • You can just walk down the street a couple of minutes to the temple.
  • Ask the sontow driver which direction to go.

To go back to Chachoengsao get on a songtow near where you got off. The ride should cost 18THB per person.

From Bangkok by car –

  • Take highway 304 (Chachoengsao – Kabin Buri) for about 17km
  • then take a left onto highway 3121.
  • Drive through the town of Bang Khla for about 6km, past the shrine and the monument of King Taksin the Great.
  • The temple is about 500m on the left.

Cost:

The temple is free.

Notes:

From here you can get a boat down the Bang Pakong (แม่น้ำบางปะกง). Just make sure you have good negotiation skills before you engage a boatman.


The Old Fortress
(Chachoengsao Fort)

How to get there:

  • 13°40’58.1″N 101°04’21.3″E
  • When on the songtow heading back to Chachoengsao, get off right after the bridge.
  • Walk along with the river on your left.
  • The Old Fortress will be on your right.

Address:

On the Thanon Maruphong, south of the hospital.

Cost:

  • Free to look around

Hours:

  • There is no way to get in.
  • This fortress is viewed from the street and this can be done 24 hours a day.

Notes:

  • The Old Fortress is not that interesting and is only worth seeing it if you happen to pass by it.
  • Don’t go out of your way to see it.
    • It’s really just a wall. Most of the fort is gone.
  • Here is a map. The Old Fortress is near the Maru Phong Garden on this map.

Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan

How to get there:

  • 13°40’27.6″N 101°04’02.4″E
  • It’s number 4 on this map.
  • Or you can use the map below.
  • Or you can just look up. You can see the temple from almost any spot in town.

Cost:

  • Free to look around
  • It might cost something to go in to see Phra Phuttha Sothon, the famous Buddha statue inside the main temple.

Hours:

  • Weekday 07:00 –16:15
  • Weekend 07:00 – 17:00

Notes:

  • It seems that the people living in this area use the grounds of the temple as an exercise area.
  • There are many people jogging, walking, and biking around.
  • Watch out for the bikers. They don’t watch out for walkers.
  • This is one of the prettiest temples I’ve ever seen.
  • It has a bit of a mega church feel to it. It is nowhere near the size of a mega church, but it is pretty big compared to most Buddhist temples.
  • The Phra Phuttha Sothon statue was said to have been found floating in the nearby river before it was put in the temple.
  • People believe that praying to the Buddha here will help women have sons.

Map:

Posted in Bang Khla, Chachoengsao, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Day of Wats

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 19, 2010

January 15-17, 2010

All Pictures

Rat School

We can sleep some other weekend!

We took a night bus on Friday to Chiang Mai and then took another night bus on Saturday back to Bangkok. The bus was not such a good idea. We should have taken a train; that way we would have had a nice bed to sleep in and wouldn’t have had to worry about a crazy bus driver seemingly determined to kill us all.

Chaing Mai

We arrived at 5:00am. Getting to Chiang Mai really early was kind of nice. We got to see the first two temples before it became overrun with tourists. It was great being the only people intruding on the monks as they swept.

Cleaning my feet

I got you now! …unless you’re American.

One odd thing that happened to us on the trip. While on the bus for the ride back to Bangkok, Mark and I were asleep in our seats. Mark woke me up to ask me where our tickets were. When I opened my eyes I saw two men in military uniforms standing over Mark.

I figured that they assumed that Mark was Thai or some sort of other Asian. Mark is obviously Asian with dark skin and is always being mistaken for Thai, Laotian, or some other ethnic group.

I began to argue with him. My rationale was that if they heard him speaking English they would know that he wasn’t whatever they thought he was.  It worked.  As soon as enough English came out of his mouth, the men moved on to harass some other poor dark skinned Asian.

I’m still not sure what they wanted.

Kids getting ready for their turn to dance

Other than the incident on the bus, the trip was very peaceful. We visited many temples and took lots of great photos. If you are a photophile, Chiang Mai is the place for you!

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Chiang Mai
(เชียงใหม่)

How to get there:

  • 18°46’53.8″N 98°59’18.3″E

You can get here by plane, train, or bus. I wanted to take a sleeper train to Chiang Mai, but they were all sold out for the dates that I needed. There was no way I was going to travel by train in a 3rd class seat, so I bought bus tickets instead.

We should have taken a government bus, but we wanted to check out the classy/ritzy expensive bus. It was more expensive than a government bus so Mark and I thought that we were treating ourselves to a posh ride.

The luxurious bus tickets cost more than twice that of train tickets. Tickets on a government bus leaving from Mo Chit bus station cost about 1/3 the price of the luxurious bus. And, it is not worth it in any way!

Notes:

  • The Luxurious Bus
    • It is not more comfortable than the good ol’ government bus. In fact it is way more annoying.
    • The problem with the “luxurious” bus is that they won’t just let the passengers sleep.
    • We were constantly woken up to be given snacks, water, or coffee.
    • The snacks are really bad.
    • They stopped at mid-night to feed us a bowl of soup. And their method of awakening us? Horrible loud Thai pop music.
    • Luxurious buses are not any bigger than the first class government bus, but some are taller. This, however, does not translate into more leg room.
    • You do not get the Luxurious bus at a station. It’s really hard to give directions to where to catch the bus. Usually you go where you bought your ticket and they shuttle you to where the bus is parked.
    • The Luxurious bus will drop you off at some anonymous part of town where cab drivers wait for gullible tourist to rip off. The government bus will take you to the bus depot, where you can get a bus, or a metered taxi to get home.
    • The Luxurious bus caters more to rich Thais and tourists.
    • They do give you a blanket since you will freeze when they turn the AC to extra-max-high.
    • I really did not like it, but you may have guessed that…
  • The Songtows
    • Once in Chiang Mai the best way to get around is by songtow.
    • Songtows are kind of like a cross between a taxi and a bus.  Many have no set path like a bus does.  It goes where the passengers ask to be taken like a taxi. But, it will pick up more passengers along the way like a bus.
    • The ones in Chiang Mai are usually red, like in the picture to the left.
    • You can find them just about anywhere, but especially around the university.
    • Just tell the driver where you want to go then hop on. He’ll tell you when it’s your stop. You pay when you get off.
    • Songtow prices are more reasonable than tuk-tuk prices. The rides are less bumpy too.
    • In some towns they are more like buses in that they have a set route. But here, they seemed to go where the passengers request.
    • The price is generally non-negotiable (everyone pays the same fare) unless you have hired one before hand and the driver does not pick anyone else up. Then you should settle on a price before you get in the truck.
    • To use one:
      • Tell the driver where you want to go and then get in.
      • The driver will stop at your destination.
      • Get out and walk to the front on the passenger side.
      • The driver will tell you how much you owe.
      • Pay him.

Wat Phra Singh
(วัดพระสิงห์วรมหาวิหาร)

How to get there:

  • 18°47’18.9″N 98°58’53.4″E
  • Take a songtow or walk.

Cost:

  • Free,
  • donations are welcomed.

Hours:

  • 5:00 – 18:00

Address:

Samlarn and Ratchadamnoen Roads, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Notes:

  • Be sure the check out the Buddha in the back and the tree with wise words written on them.

Wat U-Mong

How to get there:

  • 18°47’00.0″N 98°57’04.3″E
  • Get there by songtow.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • everyday 8:00 – 17:00

Address:

Tambon Suthep, Amper Muang, Chiang Mai 55000

Phone:

  • 0-5327-7248 (call only 83:00-16:00)

Notes:

  • Check out the tunnels. Enjoy the peacefulness and just walk around. There’s a disappointing zoo, but lots of interesting statues.
  • Talks in English are given every Sunday from 15:00 to 18:00 at the Chinese Pavilion near the pond. There are many books in English and other foreign languages.
  • I think that you can do a temple stay here, but I can’t find any evidence of this online. If I remember right, you can find information once you get there. Maybe…

Wat Phra Doi Suthep
(วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ)

How to get there:

  • 18°48’17.7″N 98°55’18.0″E
  • Take a songtow to Doi Suthep.
  • The songtow will drop you off at the base of the mountain.
  • From there you will take another songtow to the temple.
  • The songtow from the mountain base to the temple will cost 40THB per person.

Cost:

Website

Notes:

  • Check out the dancing.
  • Ring some bells.
  • Take off your shoes and see the main temple.

Doi Pui Summit
(ดอยสุเทพ)

How to get there:

  • 18°48’59.4″N 98°53’31.0″E
  • Take a songtow to the top of the mountain.
  • It will cost about 200THB per person for the ride.
  • Once near the top you can follow the “nature trail” to the summit.

Notes:

  • You might be disappointed. The “nature trail” is through thick forest, so you don’t really get to see much of anything. Once at the summit, because of the thick bush, you don’t have a view of Chiang Mai at all.
  • The songtow driver will wait for you while you explore the mountain. If he doesn’t, you’re screwed.
  • There are tents to rent and a campsite near the summit. You can ask about it before you hit the trail.

Hill-Tribe Village

How to get there:

  • There are several villages and even more songtow drivers that are willing to take you to one.
  • Look at a map and try to see one near something else you want to visit.
  • Ask if any of the villages are having any special festivals, if not… they’re all pretty much the same boring things.

Notes:

  • There isn’t much to do once you get to the village, but hopefully you will get some photo ops.
  • We were lucky to catch a school festival, but I don’t think they did this everyday.
  • There are little shops in the villages. They carry mostly trinkets.
  • Make sure to bring your own snacks if you are a picky eater. The little restaurants do not have a lot on the menu.
  • It does get boring after 20 minutes of walking around.
  • This is a tourist trap, but not so bad if you like this sort of thing.
  • This is another thing you do, to say you did.

Monthathan Waterfalls

How to get there:

  • 18°48’31.1″N 98°56’15.0″E
  • The waterfalls are between the town and Wat Phra Doi Suthep.
  • Take asongtow.
    • From the base of the mountain it will cost the same 40THB per person as a trip to Doi Suthep. This is the same songtow too.
  • It will drop you off on the road and you will have to walk the 3km to the falls.
  • Or you can hitch-hike if you are lucky enough to find someone driving by and that person is kind enough to give you a ride.

Cost: 

Notes:

  • This place has a camp site.
    • It cost 150-600THB to rent a tent and
    • 30THB if you bring your own tent.
    • There are also bungalows to rent.
    • Call 0 5321 0244 for more information.
  • This one seems nicer than the one at the summit.
  • This one has waterfalls and the other one at the summit has nothing interesting.

Map:

Posted in Chiang Mai, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

$25 to Get Out of Laos

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 3, 2010

January 1, 2010

All Pictures

Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park

ATM Hunting

We knew since the first day at the resort that we were running out of money. The assistant manager told us that we could put our meals on a tab and pay it at the end of our stay with a credit card. When it was time to check out we handed her a visa card from a bank in Thailand. They didn’t have a machine to swipe the card. They had to call some company and this took a long time.

paying to enter Sala Kaew

After about 10 minutes on the phone, the assistant manager told us that the card would not work, but she couldn’t give us the reason. No problem, we have another card. I handed her my HSBC bank card from the US. I’ve used it all over the world and have never had any complications. After another 10 minutes she handed it back to me. It had expired. The expiration date, December 2009. If we had paid yesterday it would have worked!

Mark and I search through all the cash we had. We gave the lady some dollars, baht, and KIP. We had just enough money. We ask the lady to tell the taxi driver waiting for us, to take us to an ATM before heading to Friendship Bridge.

We got into the taxi and wondered why the Thai card didn’t work. The cab stopped at ATM number 1. We got out and scanned our card. The ATM was out-of-order. We got back into the taxi and he took us to another one.

Sure Buddha can relax. He always has enough cash.

At the next ATM stop we tried 3 different ATMs. None of them would take the Thai card. This is when we realized that it was not working because it was a Thai bank card. We showed the card to our driver and ask ” Is this bank in Laos?” “Yes”, he said and took us to the bank.

We pulled up to the Bank of Bangkok bank. It was closed for New Year’s day. All the ATMs were inside and locked away. “What are we going to do? We are stuck in Laos!” Then the driver said, “I have one more bank. It always works for foreigners.”

We pulled up to the bank. Mark put the Thai card in and it got rejected. I looked out at the driver parked outside and wondered, “How on earth are we going to pay him?” I looked at my HSBC card. “Why didn’t I take out money before we went to the resort? I could have had tons of money right now!”

Out of frustration I shoved my card into the ATM. I typed in my code and the thing started to make noise. I thought, “it’s teasing me by making money counting sounds.” Then it spat out 200,000KIP. We took our money and headed for the border.

How did an expired bank card work? Well, it was January 1st in Laos, but in the US where the card is from it was still December 31st, I guess.

The Bank of Bangkok ATM

The Bank of Bangkok

So what was going on with our Thai ATM card?

Well, for the Bank of Bangkok ATM cards, there is a form that you have to sign and hand in, if you want to be able to use your bank card in Laos. You don’t get this form when you sign up for the card; you have to specifically ask for it. It is very strange, because it is a visa bank card. It works in just about every country and in any ATM where a visa would work. I’ve used my Bank of Bangkok ATM card in the US and Japan without any problems. But Laos is the exception.

Buddha and his naga in Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park

Crossing the Border

Once at the Laos border we stood in line and eventually got through. We paid our 2,000KIP border fee and hopped on a 4,000KIP shuttle to get across the bridge. Once in Thailand the Thai bank card worked.

We did make a stop at the Buddha park in Nong Khai before catching our train back to Bangkok.

Nong Khai sleeper car for 2 to Bangkok

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Nong Khai
(เทศบาลเมืองหนองคาย)

Nong Khai is the town in Thailand nearest to Friendship Bridge and Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.

How to get there:

  • 17°53’02.4″N 102°45’02.8″E

From Bangkok:

by bus from Mo Chit Bus Station (10 hours):

  • 700Baht for 1st class bus – w/ toilet; 3 seats to a row
  • 350Baht for 2nd class bus – w/o toilet; 4 seats to a row
  • I don’t recommend anything lower that a 2nd class bus because only the 1st and 2nd class buses have a/c.

by Train from Bangkok from Hua Lamphong Train Station.

  • Here is the schedule from 2009.
  • 1,317Baht 1st class sleeper
  • Baht 2nd class sleeper w/ac
    • 708 (top)-778 (bottom)
  • I don’t recommend anything lower than a 2nd-class sleeper for this 10 hour journey. Normally I would always go for the a/c option, but on the train ride back to Bangkok in 1st-class’ a/c compartment I was freezing my butt off. We didn’t even turn on the berth’s a/c; it was the train itself that was so cold.

Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park
(ศาลาแก้วกู่)

How to get there:

  • 17°53’15.0″N 102°46’52.0″E
  • Take a tuk-tuk.
  • It shouldn’t cost you more that 100Baht one way.
    • If your haggling skills are top notch you can get it for much less.
  • There aren’t as many tuk-tuk drivers as in Bangkok, and almost no cabs, so you might not be able to play too hard to get.

cost:

Notes:

  • This was made by the same guy who built the Buddha park in Laos.
  • This one is nicer than the one in Laos.

The Nong Khai Train Station

How to get there:

  • 17°51’52.0″N 102°43’52.3″E
  • It’s a walk-able (20 minutes) distance from the Thai border Passport Control depending on how heavy your backpack is.
  • Just go straight and turn right at the first major road.
  • Keep going until you see the sign for the train station.
  • Follow the sign.

Notes:

  • There are restaurants across the street that sell take-out food boxes for passengers before they board the train. There is also food sold on the train, but the train’s kitchen will give you fewer options.
  •  There is a mini-museum/ library across the street from the train station, but it is not very interesting.
General Notes on Laos:
  • Even after everything that happened to us on this trip, I still recommend not getting too much KIP, because no one will take your KIP when you leave.
  • Instead take extra money in Baht, US Dollars, or Euro.
    • Try to get smaller bills, so you will have less change.
    • Most places will take Baht, US Dollars, or Euros, but will give you KIP as change.
      • The exchange rate you get at a shop is not as good as the rate you will get at a bank, but that is better than having $150 in KIP you can’t use once you lease Laos.
  • You can still try to get a bank, shop, or hotel in Laos buy your extra KIP. They might do it. But don’t take the KIP home! No one will take it outside Laos.
    • The airport in Laos, might be the best place to exchange your KIP for other currencies. (maybe)

Map:

Posted in Laos, Nong Khai, Thadokham, Thailand, Vientiane | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Going to the Country

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 2, 2010

December 30-31, 2009

All Pictures

Giant spiders means less flies, right?

A Really Bad Hotel

Mark and I kept seeing fliers for the Rivertime Resort, but we were checked into the Dork Champa Hotel for our entire stay in Laos. This was not a good move on our part, and I have vowed never to book more than one night at any hotel or hostel online again. If, after the first night, I like the place, then I will stay longer.

The Dork Champa was not that great. The staff seemed nice enough and they went out of their way to help us after the scooter crash. We asked for directions to a pharmacy. After looking at our bloody bandages that needed changing they decided to drive to the store and get to things we needed for us. That was really nice of them.

Their hearts were in the right place, but they did not know how to run a hotel. With time and experience I’m sure the Dork Champa will be a great place to stay. But while we were there, they were still learning how to run things.

Sun Set along the Mekong Delta

Right now they seemed to lack the know-how. The wi-fi that was advertised to be in every room, wasn’t. I had to go to the lobby to connect to the internet. While sitting there I noticed several guests asking for soap, toilet paper, and clean towels. My room was never cleaned nor my sheets changed while I was there. I too had to ask for more soap and toilet paper like all the other guests.

It seems that at this hotel and others in which I stayed while backpacking, the staff just didn’t understand how wi-fi works. They think that by just installing a wireless router that everywhere in their hotel will have wi-fi access. They don’t seem to realize that there is a limit to the wi-fi’s range.

One night we went the Dork Champa’s restaurant for dinner. The burger on the menu looked really good, so we ordered two. The waiter explained that there were out of beef, so we could either order something else or wait for them to run to the store. We chose to wait. It was worth it.

The burgers were really good. They were also a bit small, but that was no problem; they weren’t expensive at all. So, we ordered some more. Again the waiter told us that they were out of beef and someone had to run to the store.

on the Mekong Delta

During the nights I stay at the Dork Champa there was a thing outside my room that squeaked very loudly. Usually it made noise 3 or 4 times a night. But on the Monday night/ Tuesday morning it squeaked every 15-20 minutes during the night. At 6:00 in the morning I marched down to the front desk and ordered the clerk to follow me. I took him right outside my room so he could hear the racket for himself. I refused to stay there one more night.

Mark and I packed our bags and checked out. The people at the Dork Champa were nice enough to give us our money back. I was glad to get out of that hotel so I could get a good night’s sleep. Mark was glad to get away from the flies that seemed to always congregate outside his hotel room.

We went just a block away to The Laos Silk Hotel. This time we checked out the room before we checked in. Unfortunately they are not on hostelworld.com. The place was clean; no flies or squeaking. They had wireless routers on each of their 5 floors. We only stayed there for one night, so who knows how often they clean the rooms for non-checking out guests? But, it was a hell of a lot better than Dork Champa!

gas station

Out of Towning

The next day we headed for the Rivertime Resort for a little R&R. According to the resort’s brochure it should cost you about 20USD to get there from Vientiane. We got a tuk-tuk for 200,000KIP.

We were the slowest thing on the road. The only vehicles we managed to pass was a truck that was in reverse and a man pushing a cart. We eventually got there after getting lost and found again a couple of times.

red road

We enjoyed walking through the village, though there wasn’t much to see. It’s just a nice place to get away from city life and be close to nature and all her bugs.

The second day we took the half-a-day boat trip into Thangon, a nearby village. It really wasn’t worth it. It took 3 hours to get to the village of Thangon on a boat with a noisy motor and once there we were taken to a floating restaurant. Never mind that the resort we just came from had its own floating restaurant and that we floated for 3 hours to get there. Mark and I ordered food and began to eat. When we were almost done a waiter came over and asked if we would,  “like to sail down the river now?”

Which floating restaurant to choose?

After eating, and not sailing down the river, Mark and I took a walk around the village. We thought that this was going to be a bigger village than the one we saw the day before. We expected to see temples, shops, something…

It was richer. It had bigger houses; ones made with brick instead of bamboo. But it was not even as interesting as the first village we saw. There were no temples or shops. After walking about for 20 minutes with kip in our pockets wanting something to buy.  Mark and I sadly got back on the pontoon for the noisy 3 hour ride back home.

Ready to dock

If you go to Rivertime, take the 1 hour river ride not the half day one. The 1 hour ride comes with a visit to the village healer. The one to Thangon is just 6 hours of this:

It still could have been fun if the boat had more shade, we brought more pillows, or we could hear each other talk over the loud motor. It began to be uncomfortable when I had to pee. Out of desperation, I asked the driver to stop at the side of the river. After which I got off, climbed up a hill, and peed in front of a herd of cattle. They mooed disapprovingly.

New Year’s eve karaoke

Our New Year’s eve was filled with bad karaoke and strings being tied to our wrists for good luck. Which is perfect because we love bad karaoke and needed some good luck!

All Pictures


 

Laos 
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
  • How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.

Phone:

  • Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
  • Emergency Numbers
    • Police 191
    • Fire & Ambulance 190

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
    • You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
  • If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.

Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge


How to get there
:

 

  • 18°09’34.6″N 102°44’04.9″E
  • This place is near Vientiane. (I still don’t know how to pronounce that word.)
  • It’s about 30 minutes to an hour out of the capital city depending on whether you’re in a speeding taxi cab or a tuk-tuk that’s about to fall apart.
  • Both seem to cost the same, though cabs are harder to find when you’re on the street.
  • If you have access to a phone, you can call a cab, if not, you might be doomed to take a tuk-tuk ride.

Cost:

  • 8USD per bed per night or
  • 38USD per night for a private room.
  • When we were there we took a shared room (8USD per bed) but it was just the 2 of us in the room.
  • According to the resort’s brochure it should cost you about 20USD to get there from Vientiane.

Notes:

  • You can pay for your entire stay by credit card, though it takes a long time to process.
  • It’s easier and less nerve-racking if you pay in cash; USD, THB, or KIP.
  • Make sure to visit an ATM before you go to Rivertime Resort. There are no ATMs near the resort.
  • Bring bug spray, shampoo, and anything else you might need or want. There are no stores nearby.
  • The Resort provides towels, bedding, soap, toilet paper, internet, and even some books.
  • The water you shower with does smell funny. It comes from underground and might contain sulfur.

Map:

Posted in Laos, Thadokham, Thangon | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: