A Travellerspoint blog

Buns of steel on the slow boat!

And other ass-related adventures!

overcast 28 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

It had been a long long last night in the hill tribe village with our rat buddy 'splinter' doing gymnastics over our heads, so suffice to say we were very very tired and particularly grumpy the next morning! Problem was we had to do a rally trip in the back of a jeep back down the mountain to chiang rai, and then get a cramped public bus for 3 hrs to the border with Laos at Chiang Khong, and a longtail boat across the river to Huay Xai and Laos baby!!

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Laos Baby!!!

We'd already heard and read about how laid back/relaxed/lazy the people in Laos are and we got our 1st taste of it straight away at immigration. We filled out our forms and gave them in to the guy at the checkpoint with our passports, he filled in his side of the form and then just put them beside him and told us to wait. Fair enough i thought there's prob more to be done, so we sat there for an hour and he left the passports beside him, didnt touch them again, dozed off for half an hour, and then just gave them back to us without doing anything extra! Totally pointless! But thats Laos, and we grew to love it!

We managed to find a bed then in a clean guesthouse and we were delighted to see no rats, no spiders, no giant man eating bugs of any type and a proper toilet and shower. My joy at the toilet soon turned to hate though - ya see they arent really prepped here for the sheer scale of a hungover irishmans emmm, how shall we say.....deposit?? Much chaos and disgust followed, there are now no official boundaries left between myself and lorraine....she has seen too much and is forever scarred!

The friendship guesthouse was fairly basic accomodation in the main part of HuayXai town.. although it was like pure luxury after the hill tribe hut.. a propertoilet!!! ahhhh the simple pleasures!! Short lived pleasure though - I didnt even get the chance to pee properly before Rob clogged the damn thing with something i have never seen the like of before in my life!!! Sweet lord have mercy - i swear that thing had a heart! To be fair i neverseen Rob as frantic in my life.. He did everything in his power to try & resolve the unsinkable problem but to no avail..

I flushed and flushed but to no avail, it was goin nowhere. Apparently i got up in my sleep in the middle of the night to flush, but still nothing. I had to come clean to the owner the next day. But 1st the maids had to find out cos they pretty much barged us out of the room. I warned them, i did warn them to stay the hell out of that room but they were too curious. We LITERALLY heard SCREAMS from them when i was downstairs confessing all to the owner. He raced upstairs and i followed sheepishly. He went to flush again and before i could shout "NOOOOOOOOO" it was to the brim again.......sweet jesus it was horrible. But very very very funny!

Definitely one of the funniest moments was when we were downstairs checking out & we could hear the screams from the maids upstairs - Rob nearly died with embarrassment but i nearly fell over from laughing!

I couldnt wait to get out of Huay Xai at that stage so we departed for the slowboat.

Now so as you can poss see from our travel map its a long auld trip from Hauy Xai to our destination Luang Prabang. 2 days in fact on a boat sailing down the mighty mekong river with a stop off halfway for the night in a town called Pak Beng. The boat itself was ok, about 50 people on it all sitting on the most sadistic of wooden benches. Only about a foot wide, if even, so our asses got a severe workout - hadnt mine been through enough already eh?!?!

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On the slow boat down the Mekong.

Now the journey itself is an experience, you almost forget the pain in your cheeks as you struggle to take in the surrounding countryside. Huge mountains border the muddy river which can be quite strong at times (we saw some huge whirlpools), and we pass the odd tribal village dotted on the mountain side with the local fishermen plying the waters. But mostly, its just pure wilderness and jungle on a scale neither of us had ever seen before. It really was beautiful. Until we actually got to the stopover town of Pak Beng at the end of the 1st day.

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Rough waters on the Mekong.

It was pretty weird but we actually arrived in Pak Beng 2hrs quicker than myself & Rob predicted which was class because we had literally lost total contact with our posteriors at this stage.

It was almost dark when we arrived to the guesthouse which our guide had kindly booked us into! The room had a thick musty smell & we figured they hadn’t changed the sheets in a week (at least). It wasn’t until people began leaving & refusing to stay there that we started to get a little concerned but we decided that it would too much hassle to look for somewhere else so we stuck with it! In Pak Beng there is a curfew at 10.30 pm whereby the electricity in the whole town is shut off & the streets go dead so we were quick to get out so have a look around. Pak Beng can only be described as a bit of a hole & it really doesn’t have much character at all. Although we did make the most of it! We met up with a couple of the guys from the boat & ended up going out for a lovely Indian dinner (our first dinner in Laos is an Indian – go figure!) we had a couple of beers & a good laugh getting to know the guys! This is how we came to meet Toni, Breezy, Joe, Christine & Trish & Peter.

We also got offered opium by a guy working in our guesthouse (don’t worry we stayed strong & resisted! You wont be seeing us on ‘Banged up Abroad’!) We got as much sleep as possible in a bed bug ridden little bed & were happy to leave the seedy little town the next morning for the second leg of our slow boat journey!

Pak Beng really was in th middle of complete wilderness in bandit country but we did enjoy it all the same. Our second day on the boat proved to be a tad testier, all the strength had left our bums and it just plain hurt the whole way. We didnt care how nice it was outside we just wanted it to be over. The boat was fuller today for some reason as well and we barely got a seat together. It took another 7 and a half hours, but we finally made it to the world heritage town of Luang Prabang.............and my god was it worth the pain!

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Some tribal kids along the banks of the Mekong.

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Mekong Fisherman

Posted by LynMoo 23:20 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Trekking with the Akha hill tribe.

TURTLE POWER!!

semi-overcast 28 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

We got up early & picked up the essentials e.g crisps & biscuits (just in case the food up the mountains would be questionable) & then just hung around until we were due to be picked up. A pick up truck arrived around 4pm & myself & Rob hopped in. We were joined by a lovely Ozzie lady called Megan along with her Thai boyfriend Ron & an equally sound American guy called Daniell. We chatted away the whole way up the mountain & everyone got on great. I dont think any of us have seen views quite like it on the way up to the tribes. The rice paddy fields & the tea plantations.. the views were quite spectacular. I swear the road was so steep at one stage i thought the truck was gonna tip right over.

Yeah the drive up to the tribal village itself was spectacular. The roads were practically non existent ranging from mud to muddy gravel! they were steep and winding and close to sickening on my pansy belly, but the views made up for it.

After approx an hour of hard driving a small village appeared out of nowhere & we knew we had arrived basically because we had practically reached the summit. The village we stayed with are known as the Akha Tribe & you couldnt meet a friendlier bunch. We were quickly shown to our huts so we could settle in. It was quite literally out of this world, our bamboo hut hung of the edge of the mountain with amazing views across the valleys. Breathtaking is the only way we could describe it.

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The view from our bungalow at dusk.

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Squat toilets - an experience in themselves!

Other breathtaking aspects of the hut was the impressive array of insect roommates we had! But we were roughing it in the mountains so we could easily hack it?? A few beers would help anyway so we joined our treking buddies in the bar and the Chang beer started flowing......i think thats how we managed to sleep fine that 1st night!

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The Akha Tribe village

The next morning we were awoken at 6.30 by the most beautiful and hypnotic singing across the valley. It was a sunday and the tribe are christians so we were lucky to hear it. After a hearty breakfast (kinda) we set off on our adventure through the jungle! Our guide was one of the tribe members called 'Dee' and he was a character, singing the whole way through the trek random thai songs.

At first he took us through some thick jungle to another tribal village called the Lahu tribe, the village itself was very similar with bamboo huts and thatched roofs all built on stilts, with mud paths running between them all. One difference were the huge solar panels attached to each of them!

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Lahu Tribal Village
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Lahu Tribe kids

After the village we had to trek through even thicker jungle for an hr or 2. It was really cool walking through tunnels of bamboo with a thick canopy of trees blocking most of the light, praying to jebus, buddha, superman and anyone that would listen that we dont stand on anything that bites! We arrived at a hot spring that was too hot to swim in and got a lift in a longtail boat to an elephant sanctuary located in a Karen tribe village 15 mins away.

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Longtail Boat to Elephant Camp
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Our Trekking Gang (Daniel, Ron, Megan, the guides and our lovely selves)

It was so strange we were going along on the boat & all of a sudden out of nowhere there was about 30 elephants on the edge of the river - it was quite surreal.. All i can say is that they are 'larger than life'. Beautiful animals & suprisingly enough they seemed pretty content. We were concerned that we were putting money into a place that mistreats the elephants but we had a good look around & were happy enough with the situation to go ahead with our little trek on the elephant.. It felt so strange going along on... Its pretty slow & relaxing but at the same time you dont forget that its the elephant thats in total control & you are pretty much at its mercy. We really enjoyed it though especially when poor Daniel (american dude) was on a smaller elephant behind us & Rob turned to him and said "did your elephant just burp Daniel??" Daniels response "THAT WAS NOT A BURP!!!!". Our elephant had just farted right in Daniels face... I tell ya i nearly fell off from laughing that hard :)

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After the Elephant camp and a really good local lunch we jumped back on the boat (i was making everyone call me 'The Colonal' at this stage cos of the shitcool hat id bought!) to another hot spring which we could go swimming in, it was quite nice! We kinda needed to clean off a bit after seeing so many elephant bowel movements! Our guide even made us some semi-boiled eggs in the springs. They were really horrible! Out of respect we both tried to eat/drink it but no joy, i figured he'd be more upset if i puked it up rather then just throw it away! The next 2 hrs were tough hiking up and down steep hills in the blazing heat. My grey tshirt had turned a nice dark colour from the sweat and we were all exhausted. (I think you will all be suprised to know that myself & Rob were the fittest out of the bunch...go figure!!). We had to practiacally climb the side of a mountain for a bit then to make it to the waterfalls for a cooling (read freezing!) dip. It was sweet though and a nice reward for not dying on the way! We made it back to the village then after 8 hrs and 14 km......oh the beer tasted good! Dee cracked out his guitar then and the village gathered around as he started singing some local tunes, it was brilliant.

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Cold cold waterfall!!

We met the other guys after a quick shower for dinner and more Chang beer. We ended up just chatting away for a good few hours into the night with Megan and Daniel. It was a good laugh, but we weren't drunk enough for what was waiting for us in our hut.....

We spent approx 3 hours discussing dangerous animals, killer spiders & the like.. Probably should have chosen another subject considering the night that lay ahead for us!
Ok so i sent Rob into the hut 1st (He checked the toilet, bed & bags for giant spiders etc) It didnt take him long before he found them. The hut was quite literally riddled.. everywhere you looked there were 2 large eyes looking back at you!! (not Rob this time though). I refused to go into the toilet so i actually had to pee outside in the pitch black (although my illuminous ass did create some light!!) The full moon party was early this month!! (God ive reached a new low!) Anyway just as Rob was trying to coax me under the mosquito net & into bed i heard a scurrying noise above my head... Looked up just in time to see a RAT running around the roof! All i needed now was a cockroach & there would be my top 5 fears all under the one roof! Although once we named the rat Splinter (for any of you turtle fans) he seemed more like a pet! Needless to say it was a long night & we both slept very little & as soon as we saw the slightest sign of daylight (5am) we were up & packed & ready to leave!! But it was undeniabley the funniest night of our trip to date!
Dee (our guide) gave us a lift back to Chiang Rai.. It really was a great trip down the mountain. We kind of forgot how high we were up! He kindly dropped us all at Chiang Rai bus station where we all said our goodbyes & went our separate ways! Its strange how close you get to people after such a short period of time!

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The morning view of the misty mountains below our bungalow.

Posted by LynMoo 08:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bye Bye Chiang Mai, Hello Chiang Rai!

Its fun to rhyme!

semi-overcast 30 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

After almost 2 weeks of pain, frustration and boredom after the accident stuck in Chiang Mai myself and Lorraine were only delighted to get the hell out of there! Although it is a fairly cool place, we were just sick of it and eager to put the whole thing behind us.

Ok so we got a public bus to our next stop which is Chiang Rai.. Pretty interesting journey as it is quite mountainous & we would have to be sat next to the only fat person in thailand :) On a brighter note the journey was a mere 3 hours so it wasnt all that bad. We arrived late enough in the evening & the night bazarre was in full swing.. ten times nicer than the market in Chiang Mai. The atmosphere was way more relaxed & there was live music playing in the background. Its a pretty small place but with plenty of charm. Personally i just think we were both dying to leave Chiang Mai after being there so long & thats why we instantly took a shine to it. We found accomodation close to the bus terminal, a guesthouse called City Home. The room was pretty basic but there was a hot water shower & a bed so we were perfectly happy. Unfortunately there was a bar right outside our window blasting cheesy boyzone & westlife tunes (they are everywhere over here)
until the early hours of the next morn so we got up early & got our stuff together & went to find other accomodation.

Chiang Rai Night Market
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Like most people travelling we try to avoid accomodation recommended by the lonely planet books but in this one case we hit the jackpot with the Baan Bua Guesthouse. Our room was lovely & there was a class area in the garden to sit & chill out. We both loved it there. We spent two nights of bliss there & then prepared ourselves to go trekking with the hill tribes for two days.

We did really take the piss a bit In Chiang Rai just lying round most of the day, eating and sitting, eating and lying down.....it was great! We did explore the town for a bit one day for a few hours and nearly collapsed with the heat. We got 'kinda lost' and some thai fella just told us to turn around and go back at one stage, we thought best not to disagree!

Now this we found hilarious! But of course myself and Lynders have been told we've 'a questionable sense of humour'! Its just a clothing shop for oversized thai women, who are rare in themselves in Thailand, we just question the marketing genius who wants to attract oversized clientele with a large picture of a pig on the window!
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We knew though that it was about time we did something cultural so signed up to stay 2 nights in the mountains with the 'Akha' hill tribe nearby....hopefully these mouintains would be kinder then the last!

Posted by LynMoo 08:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Danger on...........THE MOUNTAIN!

Bad mountain, BAD!

sunny 31 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

It was a warm sunny day in the northern mountains of thailand. 2 unsuspecting backpackers emerge from the sanctity of their hotel, the blazing sun cascading down on their supple toned bodies as they strut full of confidence towards the awaiting pick up truck, waiting to take them to their fate. For who knows what awaits these warriors of destiny on, THE MOUNTAIN!!!

Dramatic enough yet?? Right so we had a choice of going to a traditional asian art class or mountain biking - was an easy chioce as far as i was concerned! We were picked up at 9.30 and brought to the head office place for a safety talk and general info. We met the other peeps who were gonna be joining us there too and they all seemed like good craic. There was a choice of 12 or so diff tracks to take and only 3 of us were brave enough to say - "the easiest safest one please"! that obviously turned out to be quite the ironic request!

The drive up the mountain itself was eventful. This is apparently the highest mountain in thailand and they were driving us around and around to get to the summit for 45 mins and it was just too much for one american bloke who spent half the time puking out the back! that poor bastid turned out to be stuck with us on our trail as well now that i think about it.

So after a half hour ish safety briefing we were given all our safety gear and bikes and split into the 2 groups with just myself, lorraine and sicky mc pukesalot doin the 'beginner' course. We had 2 thai guides with us and they started us on our way just out onto the tarmac, around the corner and then doooowwwwnnnnnnn! we flew down the road for about 200 metres when they stopped us to make sure we were doin ok, then set off again along the road. It was all downhill and fast when we turned left around a corner and the road steepened even more and we were going FAST down the road. we came to a right angle turn to the right with lorraine about 50 feet behind me, id just taken the turn when i heard the crash. it was loud. and it scared the shit out of me.

I remember thinking "please let that be the guide and not lorraine" as i skidded to a halt and looked back. I could see lorraine lying face down in the drain at the side of the road with her legs sticking out onto the road and the bike behind her. At 1st she wasnt moving and all kinds of thoughts ran through my head, i was fucking terrified and not afraid to admit it! As i got closer she was sitting up and turned to face me. The whole right side of her face was caked in blood and the side of her right arm as well. She was obviously upset and distressed as i sat her up and made sure nothing was broken, which thankfully nothing was. Myself and the guide began to clean her face as best we cut and luckily a local family in their truck passed by and took us halfway down the mountain.

I had to sit outside in the back of the pick up truck with lorraine in the passenger seat as they drove us to meet the owner of the mountain biking company (who then informed us a girl fell at the same place the day before and lost some teeth...) and they took us the rest of the way to the hospital in Chiang Mai. Now the hospital in Chiang Mai was brilliant, it really took the piss out of the shitholes at home! No waiting in ER straight in to get cleaned up, the doctor was there with 10 mins and they were really apologetic for him being late??? The place was spotless too and really modern and they really took great care of Lorraine.

At this stage now i was in a heap! A complete emotional wreck really with worry, and Lorraine was grand! The northside is strong in her! So in the end 13 stitches were needed, 3 on the nose, 2 above the eye and 8 along the eyelid, along with lots of bandages on her arms and legs. But compared to what it could have been I was really relieved.

The next few days were pretty tough. Every time we went out for food or anything people would be staring at Lorraines bandaged face, more out of concern then anything. Lorraine became a celebrity on our street! All the tuk-tuk drivers knew us and everyday would shout "ah hello you face look much better today" and stuff! It was a long 5 days as we waited to get the stitches taken out and got the dressings changed and cleaned every day in the hospital. One day our tuk tuk driver and another taxi driver had a full blown conversation about us as they drove alongside each other on the road, it was pretty funny actually despite the blatent danger!

Thankfully though its now nearly 3 weeks later and the cuts are recovering really well and you can barely see them anymore.....and lorraine can drink again now that the antibiotics are finished - thank jebus!

So here are the photos you all came to see - hardcore gore!!

Mountain biking fun!
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In the hospital
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Day 1 after the hospital
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Day 2
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Day 3
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Day 4
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Day 5 - stitches out
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Day 8 - getting better
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ALL BETTER!!
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Posted by LynMoo 23:05 Archived in Thailand Tagged bicycle Comments (1)

Locked, and locked in with lady boys in Chiang Mai!

semi-overcast 30 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

After an uneventful bus trip back to Bangkok from Ko Samet we had the pleasure of experiencing our 1st proper bangkok traffic jam! There was a fierce thunder storm and the rain was piling down so we jumped in a taxi to get to our guesthouse for the night, 2 hrs and 1 whole kilometre later we abandoned the taxi to jump on the Bangkok skytrain (kinda like the simpsons monorail - "monorail, monorail..."!) and got downtown in 5 minutes. After a beautiful helping of local thai mcdonalds cuisine we finally checked into a place (were we just got to watch the end of the us open - class match!) and got ourselves sorted for the long train trip we had ahead of us to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand the next day.

The Taxi driver we got to the station was an absolute legend, had us in stitches all the way....apparently he doesnt like Dutch women as they're all "fat and 100% unsexy"! We would just like to state that the views and opinions expressed by the driver in no way reflects the views and opinions of the writers of this blog. We somehow managed to get upgraded to 1st class for the overnight train trip so we had our own little compartment for the train! It was pretty sweet the carraige looked exactly like something out of a "Poirot" movie! I had to ring my dad to rub it in a bit due to his ever strange train fetish he's got goin on! Although we did get talking to an Australian couple who scared us a little bit, i think they enjoyed awkward long extremely dull conversations?! They were nice all the same, we just didnt need to know their poo techniques for the squat toilets over here!

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We arrived in Chiang Mai then around 7 in the morning after a 13 hr train journey and jumped straight on a sawnthaew into the town, we were both wrecked so let the driver take us to whatever guesthouse he was working for which turned out to be just grand. The 2 of us were knackered and slept until the evening when we metup with Lorraines old school mate Sue and her boyfriend Gary. Ended up havin a great session in a few bars around the town finishing up in one place with barstaff of 'questionable' sexuality! They were either all ladyboys, or all very very ugly! But we had a great laugh and ended up in a lock in with just the 4 of us and the owner playing pool behind the closed shutters til 4 in the morning. We had some heads on us the next day, i blame the Thai beer myself. We said our goodbyes to Sue and Gary and then struggled to recover the rest of the day.

A tad tipsy with Sue and Gary (not seen: the adam appled bar maids!)
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It was my 1st proper Thai hangover.....and it was horrible! The metallica-esque sounding air conditioner didnt help either so we moved to a diff place called Tapae Place the next day.

Check out the view from our new hotel though!
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There was also a spa in our hotel where Lorraine had the "pleasure" of her first full Thai massage. Lets just say she felt a tad, in her own words - violated! it was the closest she's ever been to a lesbian experience (according to her)!! I did think she looked fairly flushed coming out alright!

Just some of the temples that are dotted all over Chiang Mai....
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On the Sunday we had to get out and do something so went for a relaxing river cruise on the Mae Ping river. We had our own longtail boat to ourselves and it was a savage day out, we really enjoyed it. We got back to the pier which was right on the site of a beautiful buddhist temples where there were loads of people praying at the water. Turns out that it was a spot where you buy animals ranging from eels, turtles, fish and birds and set them free in order to achieve some buddhist 'merit'. It was really cool. We were gonna buy some birds ourselves but figured that we'd be just hijacking a buddhist ritual in a way and turning it into a tourist thing?? Who knows! We're just very sensitive ya know! From the pier we jumped in a tuk tuk to the sunday market just inside the old walls of chiang mai which was excellent. You could really go stir crazy in the markets here there's so much cool stuff all for dirt cheap, we've already run out of room in our bags! And a great thing about this market was that at 6pm the national anthem came on over the tannoys and the entire street of thousands of people just stopped, motionless and not a sound. It was really something else. Then once the anthem finished it was back to full flow, as if someone just pressed pause and then play again a minute later - what can i say, we're easily impressed!

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Chiang Mai was kinda starting to bore us a little bit with the hassle of the night markets and the city life and we were getting eager to head further north where it was apparently more chilled out. We decided against doing a trek to the hill tribes here choosing to do it when we got Chiang Rai, instead we'd go mountain biking and see what that was like.....sure what was the worst that could happen????.......

Posted by LynMoo 22:52 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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