Days 45-47: Weekend trip to Chiang Khan and The Mekong

Hello! Firstly, let me just apologise for the lack of posts this week. I had a little blip after my amazing trip to Hua Hin, and returning back to real life was a bit hard. I also only had two days at school this week because they were running activities that didn't require my assistance, so I didn't really have much to say! Update: The other ETA at my school, Robert has left the programme so its just little old me bringing the joy of English to Sawateepittayasan School!

Day 45: Friday 7th August

I had a lazy day because Kanang had a seminar and it meant that I couldn’t go to school. I decided to finally look at the heaps of paperwork I should be sorting out for my study abroad in Italy, where I set off for only 6 days after returning home from Thailand. I also attempted to do some Italian revision, because I know it’s going to hit me like a tonne of bricks when I can’t understand the fast tongues of the Italian population, and naturally, it will panic me and I’ll have to comfort eat penne alla gorgonzola to make me feel better. Maybe it’s not so bad!

Kanang came home from her seminar and told me she would continue to attend it on Saturday and Sunday. I first thought it was only Saturday, so I was happy to stay home this weekend for the first time. However, this alarmed me that I would be stuck at home all weekend, with no way of getting anywhere and with nothing to do.

After a couple of hours of panic-planning, messaging friends and phoning taxis, buses and hostels, I packed a bag and headed for the minivan to Chumpae, where my two ETA friends Jess and Queen (also known as Gwen) live. The 1 hour mini van ride was better than the horrific van experience I had in Hua Hin (read about that here), however my heart did skip a beat when I thought the driver had fallen asleep, with his head nodding forward every now and then. I was met at the van station in Chumpae by Gwen, Jess, their mentor Daina and her pal Nang Za. They took us for a late dinner at a canteen-type place that sells Chinese style Thai food. It was probably some of the best food I’ve eaten in Thailand! Dinner was accompanied by some hilarious and slightly risqué chatter which I won’t go into detail about! It seemed like we were just a bunch of best friends having a laugh together which was great. Jess and Gwen live in a hotel right next to their school, so I was able to pay 100 Baht for a little floor-bed thing- fine with me.
Stick of rice, anyone?

Day 46: Saturday 8th August

We woke up at 7:30 so we could get the first bus to Chiang Khan. A food seller in the station sold me a strange looking item of food, which turned out to be raspberry rice, cooked in the inside of a bamboo tube. The bus was so much better this time than when we went to Loei (which is very near to Chiang Khan. It was also broad daylight, so we could at least see the risky overtakes that the driver was doing, rather than just imagine what was coming towards us during the stormy, dark ride to Loei. This journey was also shorter, and after about 4 hours we were dropped at the side of the road somewhere in Chiang Khan. 
Our unpaid 'tour guides'
Two 17 year old Thai girls saw our looks of “where the hell are we” and told us they could take us to ‘walking street’- this is the usually the central market street in most Thai towns. They spoke to us in fairly good English as they led us for 10 minutes to walking street (sadly much unlike my students, the same age) and we managed to find our beautiful hotel. I hadn’t booked a room because Jess and Gwen had already booked theirs so I was hoping to just tuck in with them or pay for a floor bed. The hotel didn’t understand this concept very easily, and im not sure how they felt about us saying all three of us would share the bed, but they finally understood and let me stay.

Yep, that's the glorious Mekong river and Laos border!
We had the most amazing view from our balcony of the Mekong river, as well as of a whole different country- Laos! It was pretty novel to be able to sit right on the border of one country and look at the beautiful mountains and greenery of another. We headed straight out and rented some bikes for 50 baht (£1) each for the whole day! There was a walkway along the river which made for the perfect cycling route, and I even managed to stay on the bike and not fall in! There were a few close calls though, mind, especially with my hefty camera in one hand! 

The sun was out in full force, much to my pleasure! This meant that it was a very sweaty experience that required refreshments and authentic Thai food from a restaurant on the banks of the river. I ordered my first Thai green curry since being in Thailand (shocking, I know!) as well as Som Tam Thai (papaya salad, without all the scary crabs, raw prawns and lashings of fish sauce) and I absolutely loved it! I have been wanting to enjoy Som Tam since being here but I just couldn't get past all the raw seafood. Don't get me wrong, I was absolutely dying from all the chillies that the waitress promised that she wouldn't put in, but it was still great. We drank beer Laos because, lets face it, we were pretty much there!
Oh, the spice!
After lunch we continued on the bikes (which by the way, weren't kind on the ol' glutes) and stopped by at a little tea shop. It was unbelievably cute and there was a little resident kitty kat that I couldn't stop taking photos of. The tea was a little watery however, so as we cycled on past a beer shack, I went for something a little stronger.

We sat outside the beer shack which was on the walkway of the Mekong, and drank their home- brewed chocolate infused ale. I think all the Gods' decisions were in my favour, because thats not even the best bit about the evening. We relaxed under the glorious 4pm sun- still sweating from the Som Tam- drinking the tasty home brew and watching the odd passerby; most of whom took a picture of us novel farangs. I’m not sure how strong that beer was, but it was strong enough to have me giggling uncontrollably at Queen searching for a place to relieve herself in the bushes... 

You're still waiting for the best bit, aren't you? So were we, for about 2 hours!

Here it is! When the sun came down in the sky, we couldn't have wished for a better scene. It was the most beautiful thing, and every time I put down my camera, it was back in my hands ready to capture the ever-changing colours of the sky.

After the incredible sunset we clumsily rode back down walking street, which was by now crowded with people. We took back our bargain bikes, and had a wander through the market. Earlier, we had agreed that we could each choose an item of food for another to eat, and if the eater couldn’t eat, they would pay for it. The first time I laid eyes on those prawny animals on a stick, I just knew Jess had to eat them. Next up was Jess, thrusting a dried-out, flattened jellyfish into Gwen’s unwelcoming mouth. It absolutely stank, and the fact that the market seller had to run it through a mangle meant that it was clearly a big deal. Pat on the back for that one, Queen! After that ordeal, she was happy to lead me to a stall selling octopus on a stick. I insisted that it was warmed up on the BBQ to take away some of the cringy chewiness. It didn’t help much… But I’m happy to say that we all completed our tasks! Go team!

Like any market that I visit, I bought more stuff that I shouldn’t have, including funky Thai trousers, jewellery, more food, and tea made from 7 types of beans: odd, but obviously I liked it! We then wandered the backstreets and came across a really beautiful place selling- you know it- TEA! Gwen let her little talented fingers loose on the piano as we sipped mandarin tea and ate macarons; how posh! 

After an incredibly beautiful day, full of those moments where you almost want to cry at the brilliance of that very moment, we 3 beer and tea-filled farangs managed to squeeze ourselves into the double bed.
Jess having a moment hahahaha

Day 47: Sunday 9th August

The plan was to wake up at 5am in order to go and see the sunrise at the top of a nearby mountain. Those who know me well can already guess what happened. Of course, horribly lazy Liv didn’t make it out of bed LL

The two of them went ahead, out into the darkness. The next thing I knew, they were back at 7am, beaming from what they had just seen. Of course, I was annoyed at myself. But at the same time, there was no way I was up for getting out of our cosy little bed at 5am! So, we live and learn. And here is a picture of what I missed out on. *kicks self*
Sunrise at Phu Tok... that I missed. (photo creds go to Jessica!)
We went to breakfast at 7am, downstairs on the hotel restaurant decking. Again, we had the amazing view of the Mekong as we ate strange pork porridge and toast. We were due to leave Chiang Khan at 1pm ish so we spent the rest of the day wandering round the area, trying out (more) tea shops and sunbathing. I had Som Tam again for lunch because I was so darn happy that I finally liked it! We found our way to the bus station after being ripped off by two tuktuk drivers, and boarded our 4 hour Nakonchai Air bus which costed £3 each, (that will hardly get you 10 minutes down the road in England!).

On the bus we drove past a van carrying a load of pigs. It was really sad to see them all struggling to stand up, with their hooves sliding around on the smooth floor. They kept falling over and one of them looked like it had broken a leg too. It made me think about what happens to our meat before its on our plate, as it is easy to forget! Its very hard to avoid meat in Thailand though, as almost every dish has it in! Wahh. Ok, now I'm rambling. But, lets see how long I can not eat pork for..

Again, sorry for the long post. It was a great trip and I am SO glad I managed to make it, rather than just staying at home alone! Hope you enjoyed it as much as me!


1 comment

  1. The photo of you in the sunset is beautiful. Shame on you for not getting up for the sunrise! X