A Travellerspoint blog

Laos....

A brush with death...and a whole lot more. cause im a slacker...

overcast 14 °C

I crossed the border from Cambodia to Laos on the 30th of March. the border crossing was something... i left Cambodia and walked into Laos, there was 2 border guards and one of those parking garage gates. i had bought a ticket for a bus that would actually take me into Laos, so i had to just sit and wait for that to arrive. once it did i took that bus to get a boat to the island i was planning on staying at for a few days. they seemed very confused with where i was going cause it wasnt the same place as everyone else was going. but after a few minutes they seemed to figured it out. so after everyone else got dropped off i stayed on the boat to get to the next island. well it didnt seem to take very long to get there, and i was thinking this isnt the right island. so i asked the guy if it was the island i had on my ticket, i even showed him to make sure he didnt get confused. and he said yes so get off and there was a guy with a motor bike there waiting to see if i wanted a ride to a guesthouse, so i asked him what island we were on and of course i was the wrong one! i was so pissed of at that point because i was so sick of being ripped off in Cambodia. i found the nearest guesthouse from where i was. checked in then went on a hunt to find the cheapest way off the island. in the middle i stopped for a coconut shake cause i love them. anyway i finally found a place that had good prices for a bus up to Pakse (it included a boat to the main land). so i enjoyed the rest of the day on the island, and was happy to be starting my Laos adventure the next day. People went on about the 4 thousand island and the waterfalls, but to me it was just another beach, and there were waterfalls up near Pakse that were supposed to be amazing anyway. so i wasnt to bothered about leaving the islands without really seeing anything.
when i finally got to Pakse, i found the cheapest guesthouse to stay in and i was actually happy to be staying in a dorm, because i wouldnt be alone in a room. just outside of the town there is a place called Bolaven Plateau, where there is supposed to be amazing waterfalls and trekking. i was at an Internet place and i was talking to a girl from Spain about going to see them and she said the best and cheapest way to see them was by motor bike. so i asked if she would be willing to drive and we could split the cost. she agreed and the next day we set out to see the sights. The first waterfall we went to is where we ended up spending the day. we started talking to the owners of the Guesthouse near the waterfall and they offered to take us trekking. it was three guys from Thailand, and two little boys who where 13 and 8. they were our guides and they knew the area better then anyone! We saw amazing waterfalls from both the top and bottom! we trekked for 3 hours and it was amazing! we were walking across rivers over trees that had fallen. Everything was so natural cause it hasn't been hit by tourist yet. and our guides were even picking up garbage along the way. After our trek we were invited to stay for lunch. We had deer
strew that they had just kill that morning. (yes i know poor Bambi), but it was delicious! The evening Thio (the girl from Spain) was talking to a couple from Australia who had bought a tuk tuk and needed someone to drive it back
up north so i said i would go with her but i wasn't driving because it was manual. so all we had to do is pay for petrol. we left a day later, it started out as a big adventure, people loved seeing the tuk tuk and waving at us like we were famous. on the third day we were headed to come caves that were about half way to our destination. as
we were going down the girl the engine cut out, i think. at first i thought it would be ok we could just coast. but then Thio couldn't break, the breaks had stopped working and we started picking up speed. i knew in my gut we were gonna crash, when Thio lost control of the tuk tuk i could feel it starting to tip, so i grabbed the bar above my
head and pulled myself up as the tuk tuk hit the ground. This is how i hurt my shoulder. when the tuk tuk stopped sliding i was about to put my feet down when i realized that Thio would be under me. so i looked down to see her leg was pinned under the tuk tuk. i lowered myself to the ground and tried to lift the tuk tuk but it was no good, it was to heavy. when i went to lift myself out of the tuk tuk, is when i realized i hurt my shoulder because i had trouble lifting myself up. but i tried again and got out. we were in the middle of no where and i wasn't sure how long it would be until the next car came by. i started running down the hill because there had been a car in front of us. but as i started running i could hear a car coming down the hill, so with my legs feeling like jelly i ran back up and started screaming "help!" and flagged down a van. a truck coming up the hill had stopped as well. we tried lifting the tuk tuk again but couldn't get it to move until they got a pole out of the truck and got it under the tuk tuk.
after we got Thio out, i had to get all our stuff from the back of the tuk tuk, because i didn't know how far we would have to go to get help and our stuff might not be there when we got back. the family then took us in there van, at first i was thinking where are they going to take us? we're in the middle of no where... we first stopped in a little village, at what looked like a little motel and i was thinking "oh god this cant be good" but we were just dropping off the food that was in the van. i was starting to worry though because Thio's leg was cut open pretty bad. They ended up taking us to a hydro plant that had a small clinic. they just cleaned up Thio's leg and sent us back 200kms to the nearest "hospital" where no one spoke English, they ignored me cause i wasn't bleeding, i had to get my insurance to translate to them that i needed to see a doctor. which i didnt get to see, they just x-rayed my shoulder. Thio was in a room with 12 other people, her leg was bleeding all night long. i was starting to worry that she was losing too much blood, and thinking we need to get to a real hospital. i slept on the floor, outside on the balcony, it actually looked cleaner then the floors inside. a guy gave me a blanket to sleep on and i already had a travel pillow. two older ladies who i guess had family inside stayed up for a few hours with me teaching me how to speak Lao. and i was teaching them English and we got into Christmas some how and i was trying to explain Santa to them, and i just happened to have a Santa hat in my bag (thanks auntie Karen) and i showed them and they understood, i ended up letting one of them keep it as well. that made her happy. the next day we had to fight to get an ambulance to take us to Thailand. We ended up at a hospital just across the border from Laos in northern Thailand. we spent 7 hours in the ER just waiting. the nurses took a liking to me though. i think its because i kept asking them questions about stuff in the ER. first i asked them if i could weigh myself, then when i put on a Stethoscope they called me "dr amanda". one of them asked me if i wanted to take a bath and i said no, cause i was just too tired, but after she asked me about 3 times i was starting to worry that i smelled that bad so i decided to shower. they gave me hot coffee, and cold water. then as they sent us off in the ambulance they gave us fried rice and it was yummy! 8 hours later, and a horrible sleep in an ambulance we arrived in Bangkok, Bumrungrad International Hospital. I had a doctor check out my shoulder, i have a muscle strain and contusion of my left shoulder. I went to Physio for 5 days and it helped a lot but carrying my bag hasnt really helped it.
While i was recovering in Bangkok Songkran festival was happening (Thai new year). It was great fun! its pretty much just a 3 day water fight! you get soaked no matter where you are, i even got soaked on a bus! they throw water in threw the windows! and they rub baby powder on your face, either the way it is or they make it into a paste! and the locals loved soaking not only each other but the tourists! and they start them off young, there were little kids just barely able to walk with little water guns, that's when i would get down at their level and let them shoot me, their faces would just light up and their parents would smile for making the kids day!
After that i took a 15 hour third class sitting train up to Chaing Mai! it was me and a few dozen Thai people! i was squished in with a nice Thai family who didn't speak a word of English but the grandpa of the family who had a few drinks because his wife did the pretending to drink a drink motion, was trying very hard to talk to me, and was getting frustrated when i couldn't understand but was super happy when i figured out what he was saying! haha i found it amazing that with the very few Thai words i picked up while i was there and the very few English words he could understand, i managed to tell him how i old i was and he told me how old he was, and i figured out he was asking me where i was going after Thailand and he understood when i told him Europe, then America , then home. but there was other stuff that i just couldn't understand. Also when traveling on a Thai train you'll notice the locals are pros at getting food from outside the train while staying in the train, they know what food is at each stop and when exactly the train is going to stop where. one lady who was i could only assume the daughter of the older man who was talking to me, i think saw the puzzled look on my face when the train stopped and everyone stuck their heads out the window and came back in with food. she bought me coconut ice cream! and they also offered me sticky rice and chicken! i think if you want to understand the Thai people and their culture the best way to do it is to take a 15 hour train ride with the locals. you see first hand how they interact with each other. there was a lady with a baby that didn't know the lady who got me the ice cream but when she sat down, the lady who bought me the ice cream fed the baby sticky rice and it was totally cool with the mum of the baby. I'm not how many places you would see that happen. they're just so close as people you would think they were all one big family! they go out of their way for each other, and even when they get in car accidents they don't yell at each other they laugh it off. I'm not even kidding i saw a taxi and a motorbike crash right into each other the guy on the motor bike was laughing as he limped over to talk to the taxi driver and the taxi driver was laughing as he pointed out the damage on his car!
so when i finally arrived in Chiang Mai where the train was headed, i had only a few hours to find my guesthouse, shower and get a hold of the elephant place i was going to see that day. with the help of a few locals i found my guesthouse, but finding an Internet place that was open to get a hold of the elephant place was harder. i finally after 30 mins of walking around found a place open and it was actually cheap with a fast connection. i got a hold of the elephant place and went back to my guesthouse to get ready!
i had about a week to debate whether or not i would ride an elephant. i took a class in college called Eco tourism, where we touched on the idea green tourism, things like whale watching, trekking in forest. things that seem ok to do and wont really hurt nature and the earth but there are big debates on whether it should be done or not because in whale watching the boats get to close to whales and can kill them and people want to touch the whales. so we had this big debate on to touch or not to touch. at the time of the class i really didn't give it much thought to be honest. But then when i thought about riding an elephant, i started to look into it and you would be surprised at how many of these places are so cruel to the elephants. and its even more surprising that they would be like that in Thailand because in Thailand the elephant is worshiped by the Thai people, you see them everywhere in some shape or form. but yet they treat them so badly that they re endangered over here now. So after thinking about that and being reminded by a friend about the whole to touch or not to touch thing i opted out of the elephant riding, but i still wanted to see them and get up close and personal with them. i did some research online and found a place called the Elephant Nature Park. it was started by a lady, who wanted to help all the elephants that were being mistreated through logging, street begging, and tourist attractions. she doesn't discourage people from going to these places because she said they are her neighbours, and she wouldn't disrespect them like that. but she does ask people to look into places before going to them and see how the elephants are treated. This nature park has 34 elephants now all except the one that was actually born on the day i went were saved from a life of torture and pain. they have lots of land which they can roam on at any time except night, because there is a banana plant very close by and they would get in a lot of trouble if they were to steal the bananas from there haha.
The day starts out by a hour bus ride to the Park while watching a video on how the place got started, then we arrive at the Park and get introduced to the elephants followed by a feeding time, and bath time with the elephants where you actually get to go in the river with these wonderful creatures and scrub them down and throw water on them. then we had a huge Thai buffet lunch, which was amazing! then there was another feeding and bath time, we got to see the new elephant born that day but she was very protected by two bigger elephants that were with her. we had free time just to wonder around and take pictures of the elephants, and ask questions and learn more about the elephants. it was an amazing day that i will never forget and I'm so glad i chose not to ride the elephants but instead this great experience.
After the Elephant park i spentt another day in Chiang Mai, just so i could actually get some sleep and not have to worry about getting up early for a bus or train. But the following day i did get up early to catch a bus to the Laos border. As you all know because of the tuk tuk accident i had to go back to Thailand, and because of that my visa got messed up and my flight was booked for after my visa expired and i couldn't change it so i had to do what they call a visa run, where i crossed the border for a day into the North part of Laos and stayed over night so when i went back to Thailand the next day i would get a new free 15 day visa that would allow me to stay longer in Thailand, without having to pay extra. Plus the baguettes in Laos are to die for! so on the day i was leaving i got three for the road! and they were yummy!
And the border i crossed at was actually a water crossing, so you take a boat across the river to get to Laos and back to Thailand, its much more enjoyable then a land crossing, although i was nervous standing up in the long tail boats with my backpack on when getting out because the boats are so skinny, when you step to one side the whole boat tips! but i managed not to fall into the water thankfully!
after a few more buses i finally arrived back in Bangkok! this time i stayed in the Backpacker area, lots of great cheap food and its just a fun atmosphere! i spent my last night in Bangkok wondering Koh San road, while drinking coconut shakes (which i miss very much!) and i love Kebabs now, you know the pitas stuffed with fresh meat craved off those spinning rotisseries, i believe its a Turkish kebab. so so yummy! and as much as hot stuff makes my eyes water i still eat it cause it tastes so good! i very much loved the Lamb ones.
Speaking of Lamb its one of the many things I've tried so far on my trip, i also had kangaroo, deer and duck! all which were very tasty! plus other random stuff in Thailand, that i don't know the names of because it got to the point where i stopped asking what stuff was and just tried it if it looked good! its pretty much the best way to do it in Thailand.
After the Elephant park i spentt another day in Chiang Mai, just so i could actually get some sleep and not have to worry about getting up early for a bus or train. But the following day i did get up early to catch a bus to the Laos border. As you all know because of the tuk tuk accident i had to go back to Thailand, and because of that my visa got messed up and my flight was booked for after my visa expired and i couldn't change it so i had to do what they call a visa run, where i crossed the border for a day into the North part of Laos and stayed over night so when i went back to Thailand the next day i would get a new free 15 day visa that would allow me to stay longer in Thailand, without having to pay extra. Plus the baguettes in Laos are to die for! so on the day i was leaving i got three for the road! and they were yummy!
And the border i crossed at was actually a water crossing, so you take a boat across the river to get to Laos and back to Thailand, its much more enjoyable then a land crossing, although i was nervous standing up in the long tail boats with my backpack on when getting out because the boats are so skinny, when you step to one side the whole boat tips! but i managed not to fall into the water thankfully!
after a few more buses i finally arrived back in Bangkok! this time i stayed in the Backpacker area, lots of great cheap food and its just a fun atmosphere! i spent my last night in Bangkok wondering Koh San road, while drinking coconut shakes (which i miss very much!) and i love Kebabs now, you know the pitas stuffed with fresh meat craved off those spinning rotisseries, i believe its a Turkish kebab. so so yummy! and as much as hot stuff makes my eyes water i still eat it cause it tastes so good! i very much loved the Lamb ones.
Speaking of Lamb its one of the many things I've tried so far on my trip, i also had kangaroo, deer and duck! all which were very tasty! plus other random stuff in Thailand, that i don't know the names of because it got to the point where i stopped asking what stuff was and just tried it if it looked good! its pretty much the best way to do it in Thailand, unless you're a vegetarian, cause then you're pretty much screwed haha.
My flight left Bangkok for Mumbai around 1am on the 25th of April. i arrived fairly early cause i hate cutting stuff so close. so once i found out which counter i had to go to for my flight i went to get my boarding pass and the line was HUGE! and since i was going to India, i didn't really fit in, in the line. Even one of the airport staff asked me if i was in the right line! And the reason the line was so long was because every other person had a huge flat screen TV to check in... I'm not even kidding you! when i finally got closer to the front one of the members of the airline asked me if i had pants because i was wearing shorts at the time, and at first i was thrown of guard and i said "no, well in my bag i do." and he said oh ok. and i stood there for a second and was thinking maybe it has something to do with cause I'm flying to India and i have to cover up sorta of thing, and that made me a little angry and if that was the reason i wasn't going to be doing it, so i turned to the guy again and said "why do you want to know if i have pants?" and he said " cause my boss wants to upgrade you to business class free of charge but you have to be wearing pants cause its business class"
now whether this was true or not, a free upgrade to business class sounded good to me! so i told him to give me two minutes and i would go change! and i was happy i did! i love business class! haha so much space and food and drinks all the time! But i have to say I'm pretty sure i figured out the real reason they moved me to business class, when the only other white person on the plane happened to be sitting right next to me!
Things did get a little confusing at the Mumbai airport because i didn't have a visa so i had to be taken by a member of stuff to many different places until they figured out what to do with me. i had to go through security, to get into the departure lounge. where i slept for a few hours, until a different member of staff told me what was going on. and at this point i had already been in the airport for 6 hours and i was getting a little hungry but they only took rupees (Indian money) and the money exchange place wouldn't exchange money unless i had a Indian passport (don' ask me why, even the guy who worked in the airport was confused by this) so i asked the guy who got my boarding pass sorted out what i should do cause i was starving and i didn't want to spend 10 US dollars on a bag of chocolate. so he actually bought me a meal! i couldn't believe it, he was so nice, and actually apologized for all the hassle i had to go threw just to get a connecting flight! hours later i was finally on my way to London!
i was back in economy again, boo to that but luck would have it that my TV screen wasn't working so they moved me up to business class again! yay!! i swear i need to be rich so i can fly in business class all the time! haha

next up is the UK :)

Peace out,
Amanda

Ps make love not war.

pps ive been traveling for almost 9 months now!! :)

Posted by hankins16 23:33 Tagged backpacking

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