Apologies for the recent dearth of blogs (maybe thats a godsend though?) Anyway, i've got lots to tell so will get on with it......
Left Vang Vieng and set off on a crowded minibus across the mountains to Luang Prabang. Any motorcyclists out their should put this one on their maps of 'must do' rides. It is a winding, swooping, climbing road that wends its way through a very dramatic landscape of limestone mountains and lush forest. After 5 hours we arrive at LP. Without doubt the prettiest town with have seen in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos. Whereas Hoi An in Vietnam is picture box perfect it does feel a little manufactured. LP, however, is real. Colonial french buildings, a profusion of wats, a charming and picturesque river that encirles three sides of the town. Fragipani, Bourgainvillia and many other flowering shrubs and trees bathe the smaller streets in dappled shade and fill them with lovely smells. The town is classy with very nice shops and at least one ridiculously expensive hotel (£478 per night). Plainly our room at £15 per night was not quite so grand but relative to most of our places was palacial. We thought we would be there a couple of nights but, like most of the visitors (older crowd here) we were capivated by the charm of the place and stayed five nights. Apart from just eating drinking and mooching we did two things of note. One was going out to the most lovely waterfall about 20km out of the town. A nice ride up into the hills to a popular but still lovely falls that dropped in various swimming pool terraces down through the forest. Can't help but think nature was assisted in the course the river took and the elegant way the pools spilled over to the next terrace but even so it was quite lovely.
An interesting aside being the Sun bear sanctuary near the entrance. Obviously very happy, gambolling bears in huge very open enclosures playing, sleeping, eating and living a carefree life instead of being farmed for their bile which is used in Chinese medicine???
Second point of interest was spending a couple of hours helping monks with their English. A combination of chatting and listening to them read, during which explanations and correction of pronounciation was given. Interesting and quite rewarding.
That then finished the stay in Laos. Certainly our favourite of the three countries and by far the most picturesque + an undefinable something that really got us. We even made enquiries as to the prices of guesthouses that were for sale or rent for future reference. The only major problem with Laos is the limited transportation infrastructure so we flew to Thailand in an hour on a prop plane rather than spend 3 days on a collection of buses and boats all with uncomfortable seats.
So here we are in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Rachel is cooking Chicken Korma for our dinner and it smells amazing! But more on that later). Prior to leaving the UK we had spoke of housesitting and doing a Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course which would allow us the opportunity to earn some money and give us more opportunities. As we have been travelling we have been speaking of this more and more and so decided, since we were becoming a little travel weary, to do the course in Chiange Mai. We came here for a few days a couple of years ago and loved it and since it was one of 4 locations where a course is operated we opted to do it here. We have been here for 6 days and in that time we have had a couple of meetings with the language school and signed up for our course which starts tomorrow. Scoured the city for an apartment, selected one and moved in, bought new clothes and shoes which are required for teaching, Looked at various gyms and joined one- our first class is in a couple of hours, bought various homely items and generally trekked far and wide.
The course is for 5 weeks and, assuming we pass, we will be considered an interesting proposition to schools. We are a couple, we are native English speakers, we are both very gregarious and (potentially) presentable, we are older (and wiser) and can commit to a full contract of one year. This is very exciting and although we are nervous we are hoping to do well.
Our apartment is huge. About 130 sqm. with two double deds, lounge, kitchen with cooking equipment (rarity) and dining area with table for 10 (hence why Rachel is able to cook curry)two bathrooms, two large balconies and on the top floor of a building in a quiet area overlooking the city on one side and the mountain on the other. We breakfast on the mountain side balcony in the mornings to the sound of gibbons whooping in the forest and a profusion of chirrupping birds. It is lovely and after having spend 6 months in single rooms and forever changing it is a marvellous change. During the day, however, the grunts and slapping can be heard as we overlook (at the front) a Muay Tai boxing accademy. We are here for at least two months so please, anyone reading this be assurred, we would be thrilled to have you stay and have the room for you to do so.
Since just before leaving Luang Prabang until a couple of days ago i have had really bad guts. Feels like food poisoning with cramps, temperature, weakness and blood draining from my face with any exertion. Doctor Vic sorted out some meds for us before we went so finally took a course of Anti Biotics - not sure if it was these or time that cured me but at least thats over.
Also have had my 52nd birthday. And you know what? Even though that little bitch of a girlfriend bought me nothing and in fact bought a handbag on her birthday ....I feel like a f****g god. Something, Someone and Somewhere must be agreeing with me.
Much of the rest of what we have done, to us, is novel and exciting. However to you would seem boring description of the mundane. so, to finish the post, we will add some wierd shit suff and simply say that we are ridiculously happy on our adventure and cannot wait for what this, stage 2, will bring us.
Tesco Lotus (Thai version of Tesco) in Chaing mai sells amongst all the normal food stuffs - pre packaged cows uterus, small or large intestines, Freeze sealed chicken carcasses and bags of pig blood!!
Just got back from the gym. First time in 6 months. Lovely but we can't lift our arms or move our legs.