(Thailand) Chiang Mai >>> Pai >>> (Laos) Luang Prabang
7/30- Dentist Visits, A Cat Cafe, and the Sunday Night Walking Street
7/31- Unexpected Adventures on our Journey to Pai
8/1- Some rest and relaxation in Pai!
8/2- Day Tour Around Pai and Mae Hong Son
8/3- Last day of chillaxin’ in Thailand!
8/4- Travel from Pai to Chiang Mai and Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos
8/5- Lounging around in Luang Prabang
Dentist Visits, A Cat Cafe, and the Sunday Night walking Street
+ Originally we were going to go to a cooking class today since that is a popular tourist activity here in Thailand. However, we’d already tried so many different Thai foods that after looking at the menu of things we’d cook, we’d tried pretty much all of them! So we decided to skip it and sleep in instead. Definitely a wise decision!
+ We did get up for breakfast and then retreated back to our rooms afterwards where Liz took a nap while Corey watched 2 episodes of “Last Chance U”.
+ Now time for lunch, we took an Uber over to the area we had our dentist appointment at and found some quick eats to satisfy our hunger.
+ Next up it was time for the dreaded dentist visit (dreaded for Liz). We hadn’t had our teeth cleaned in a little over 2 years and it would certainly be cheaper here than back in the U.S. with no insurance.
+ The ladies that cleaned our teeth were nice and had graduated from UCLA in the States, but the teeth cleaning was extremely rushed and certainly not the most thorough we’d ever had. Still better than nothing though.
+ From there we caught an Uber to a cat cafe called “Catmosphere”! We had visited one in New Zealand and were excited to try this one out. They had a lot smaller space to hang out with, and less toys, but the experience was still fun. Plus it cost way less to visit since all you had to do was buy a food item or drink instead of an admission fee. Corey got some chicken wings which made him very popular with the cats! lol.
+ When we’d had our fill of over-stimulated kitties we got an Uber back down into the Old City and then spent the next 3-4 hours walking around the famous Sunday Night Walking Street market.
+ It was absolutely humongous! There were different vendor tents lining both sides of the street, and 2 in the middle, in every direction as far as we could see at some of the 4-way intersections!
+ For over 19 months we’ve done a great job of resisting the urge to buy souvenirs. Mainly because we didn’t have space to carry much, but also because most things would get broken or damaged before we ever made it home with them. Tonight though, in addition to tons of food, we bought some earrings, a ring, and a bracelet for Liz plus a T-shirt for Corey. Most importantly though, we bought a new outfit for Tumbles! We’re sure he’ll be excited to try it on when we get home.
+ We’ve seen a lot of street markets selling food and trinkets but this one was our favorite for sure! Everything was interesting to look at reasonably priced and seemed to just go on forever!
+ With our stomachs full of various smoothies, Thai noodles, ice cream, Thai bubble tea, sausage, and breadsticks, we finally returned to our hotel around 11. Then we showered off and relaxed in bed watching 30 Rock until the tiredness took over and we fell asleep.
Unexpected Adventures on our Journey to Pai
+ The only thing on our agenda today was to travel up to Pai, our last stop in Thailand. We Decided to not go until the afternoon though so we could have another lazy morning and take full advantage of our nice room and comfy bed.
+ Our hotel was nice enough to grant us a late checkout at 1pm so when we did checkout, we stored our bags and walked over to a Khao Soi restaurant that had rave reviews on TripAdvisor. It was really tasty and best of all only cost $1/person! Though we did splurge and add on a 50 cent longan drink that we’d never tried before. The longan fruit was like a mix between a grape and a lychee. Pretty good!
+ Our shuttle bus was pretty late picking us up from Chiang Mai so we didn’t leave town until almost 4 instead of at 3 like planned. Not only that but for the first 2/3 of the ride the bus was making funny sounds. The driver would turn the radio down, cock his head to the side and try to listen to make the problem go away. A few times he would pull over to look under the car and try to find the problem.
To the van full of tourists, it was very worrisome when the driver would pull over on the side of the narrow twisting roadway with the traffic zooming by.
+ Eventually, the crazy roads with their never ending twists and turns, combined with his erratic driving, proved to be too much stress for the van and he had to pull over and stop for good since there was definitely something broken on the van that prohibited us from continuing the rest of the way.
+ This meant everyone had to pile out of the van and wait on the side of the road for over an hour for another van to come get us!
+ We weren’t too upset since Corey had spent the whole ride working on the blog and Liz had done a lot of reading about Laos to figure out how much time we should spend in each place. Now with the extra time, we just watched some stuff on the tablet until our new ride arrived.
+ When we finally arrived in Pai it was about 8:30 pm. Almost 2 hours after we’d planned to be there. Plus when we got to our hotel we were informed we were getting a room with 2 single beds instead of 1 big bed like we’d requested! Ugh!
+ Hungry, we both dropped our stuff and set out in search of dinner. We didn’t want to venture too far so when we saw the first decent looking restaurant, we popped in. Liz got some Thai food which proved to have too much lemongrass, while Corey ordered pizza (never a bad choice!).
+ After grabbing some drinks from a nearby supermarket when we’d finished, we returned back to our rooms and spent the rest of the night relaxing and planning on our devices.
Some rest and relaxation in Pai!
+ One of the main reasons we’d come to Pai was for some R&R. So in the morning Corey headed down for breakfast while Liz decided to keep sleeping.
+ Today most of the day was spent in our room. Sleeping, watching Netflix on the tablet, and playing around online. It was so nice to do nothing!
+ At night, we headed out into Pai and checked out the walking street market. While much smaller than the one we’d just visited in Chiang Mai, it was still interesting and full of tons of tasty-looking food! This time the street food was not Thai but mostly western food! Lasagna, bruchetta, chicken wings, burritos, they had everything! This town was definitely a backpacker town and not quite authentic Thailand.
+ We resisted the street food for tonight and instead headed towards a restaurant we’d heard about called Maya Burger Queen. It lived up to it’s reputation and delivered some decent sized yummy slabs of beef.
+ When we left there, we booked our tour for the next day. We chose the very popular tour that visited some of the most popular sights around the area and only cost about $15/person. Then we headed back to our hotel and hung out for the rest of the night while watching the movie “Ong Bak”.
Day Tour Around Pai and Mae Hong Son
+ When we’d finished eating our A-la-carte breakfast at the hotel, we hung out waiting for our ride to pick us up. As it turned out, there were 2 other couples just from our same hotel that were not only going on the same tour, but on our same truck! What are the odds?
+ The day tour itself was far from the most interesting thing we’d done (even just in SE Asia), but combined it made for an entertaining day. The friendly people in our truck is what made the day the most enjoyable as we all became friends over the course of the 8+ hours we spent together.
+ First we stopped at a view point that wasn’t too captivating, but it did have a 4-pronged swing set up right next to it (in the same shape of a cross, or X). With the help of some other guests, we were eventually able to load up all four swings and get the contraption spinning in circles. Liz was the first person to go up and over the top! So brave!
+ Corey served as the main muscle propulsion for the swing to keep it going and help new people get on and off. Liz bravely rode the swing up and around a few times despite it being pretty scary. It was actually a really fun experience!
+ From there we went to the Tham Lot caves. Although we were only able to visit 1 out of the 3 caves (due to high waters), it was still a neat experience to go in and out of the caves on the little bamboo rafts and have our guide show us all the rocks that vaguely looked like animals. Then we enjoyed some nice Thai food at a restaurant just outside the gates.
+ Next up we went to the Hot springs which were more like luke-warm springs. Still a nice time to sit around relaxing and talking with our new friends.
+ After that we visited the popular waterfall nearby and climbed around on the rocks a bit. Then we drove over to the giant White Buddha which was perched way up a hill and even visible from our hotel room back in town!
+ We had to climb a few hundred steps to reach the top but we were rewarded with a great view over the city, even though the buddhe himself (itself?) was under repair.
+ The last thing on our agenda for the day was visiting Pai canyon for sunset. It was a geographically interesting place and we both hiked around for an hour or so exploring the ridges and valleys that you could hike amongst. We didn’t actually get to see sunset since we left too early, but it was cloudy overhead anyway.
+ When we’d finished showering and changing out of our sweaty clothes, we headed out to walk through the street market again. Then we ate at a restaurant called Baan pizza which was pretty tasty and filled us up!
+ At night we messaged with our friends and family and then watched some “Master of None” episodes before bed.
Last day of chillaxin’ in Thailand!
+ Today was the last day we’d have to fully relax before a busy travel month commenced and we took full advantage of it. Besides leaving our hotel to get some lunch at a reputable Mexican restaurant a few km’s outside of town, we mainly hung out in the room.
+ Corey watched some “Last Chance U” episodes while Liz napped and read her book. In the evening, we left our air-conditioned domain and set out to use the last remaining Thai Baht we had for dinner.
+ We successfully managed to fill ourselves up on tasty Thai street food without having to withdraw extra money from the ATM or have any leftover Baht that we’d have to carry around.
+ Back in our room, we messaged with family and friends and packed our bags in preparation of leaving Thailand tomorrow. Then we watched some Brooklyn 99 episodes before bed. It had become such a funny show that it always put us in a great mood before going to sleep!
Travel from Pai to Chiang Mai and Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos
+ The hotel was doing some repairs on it’s kitchen so we were actually shuttled over to another hotel for breakfast. It turned out to be an upgrade though as this was a much fancier resort and as such, had a big buffet breakfast! We had to eat quick though to ensure we could get back to our hotel and check out on time.
+ After we checked out, we walked up to the bus station with our bags and then settled into the minivan for the journey back to Chiang Mai. This time, there were no problems with the minibus and we made it back in only 3 hours! Then we switched into another minivan for the remaining 20 minutes to the airport.
+ We were actually a little too early so while we waited for the check-in counter to open, Corey got a 6-inch Subway sub (which was amazing) and played around online. Then we checked in, made it through security, and headed straight to our little slice of paradise: The Priority Pass Lounge!
+ It was there that we spent the next couple of hours eating fancy food and drinking free coffee and beer until it was time to board our flight to Laos.
+ The plane was the smallest plane either of us had ever been on! It was a propeller plane and we were sitting just a few feet in front of the wing which gave us the perfect view of the propeller spinning rapidly just a few feet outside of our window!
+ Our flight was only 70 minutes long and we landed in Luang Prabang around 4:40 pm. Then we gathered our bags and figured out the best (and cheapest) way to get from the airport to our hotel, which was a shared minivan.
+ Once we’d checked into our room at ThaviSouk and spent some time online, we headed out for dinner. We were both really tired and didn’t feel like walking too far so we found a Mexican place nearby that looked (and smelled) good. While it wasn’t the cheapest option (since it was Western food) it was the only meal we paid for today and the portions were huge. Plus the Australian owner was really friendly and gave us some helpful tips for Laos.
+ Back in the room we watched Ong Bak 2 before going to sleep.
Lounging around in Luang Prabang
+ The included breakfast at our guesthouse consisted of a tasty banana pancake served downstairs. When we finished that, we hung out talking with some of the other guests for a while and swapped tips for Laos and other countries in SE Asia.
+ It was raining outside and we didn’t feel like exploring in the rain so we went back to our room and hung out. After a couple of hours messing around online we got tired and the rain drops outside lulled us to sleep.
+ When we awoke from our nap it was in the later part of the afternoon and the rain had stopped. So we geared up and headed out on foot to explore the city.
+ We walked around the city area followed by the riverfront. As we walked along the famous Mekong River, we saw a nice looking Laos restaurant that was filled with locals so we decided to grab dinner there. It was nice to try some new food and much cheaper than last night!
+ The rain started up again when we were finishing up but luckily we’d brought the umbrellas along. We continued exploring on foot and found a few promising looking restaurants for later. We did get some tasty ice cream from a historic french colonial building that we stumbled upon.
+ Eventually we ended up at the night market and strolled through the tarped stalls ducking and weaving past the low hanging bars and chinese tourists.
+ Back at the hotel we skyped with family and friends and then watched some Netflix and worked on our YouTube page.