A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Mads and Ben

Vang Vieng, Laos

We survived.

rain 28 °C

What we've learned: That carrots do not have a place upon ones pizza.


After a 24 hour journey through Chiang Mai and North Thailand, we crossed the border into Laos. Once again the bus journey was horrnedous, and we were crammed in the back with all the baggage. Dashing through tiny streets throughout the night, Mads slept, Ben didn't. Standard.

Mads still had a chest infection, so Ben traipsed through Vientienne to find a pharmacy to bring her some cough medicine. Very sweet.

We waited in this town for 2 hours before we set off to Vang Vieng, by 'VIP' bus. The roads in Laos are horrendous. There are so many potholes at points it felt like the bus would tip over. The bus driver also enjoyed the threat of driving into rabid dogs, admittedly this did become quite amusing.

We finally arrived in Vang Vieng and looked for a guesthouse, obviously Mads got hot and bothered so went for a beer whilst Ben went and found one. He did this little task perfectly and their guesthouse was a little piece of heaven in what was the building site of Vang Vieng.

Vang Vieng did not exceed our expectations. Bar after bar was for westerners, no Laos food. All crappy pizzas and Friends episodes. So we lived on bacon sandwiches. Literally.
Every shop sold produce for us, tops, shorts, tubing bags.. NOthing of any interest at all. It was pretty sad as it is such a beautiful place, the scenery is amazing.

ANYWAY, we did have a brilliant time here.

The first day it was raining so much we chickened out of Tubing and went Kayaking. We stopped at a bar, as you do when you're Kayaking, and Ben beat the crap out of some locals through the medium of a tug-of-war game. (He did fall into the mudddy, wee-ridden water before the game had even commenced). It rained heavily all day, but this made it really exciting. We walked home semi-naked with a steaming-hot bag of pork. Delicious. It was a pretty funny sight.

The second day, we braved it and went tubing. The river was 2 foot higher than usual, so it was definitely brave. For those of you who haven't been to Laos, tubing is a bar crawl along a river. You literally float down a (raging) river and are hauled out by tiny little locals with ropes to come and drink in their bars.

Ben thought it was a great idea to share a tube. He was wrong.

After nearly drowning at our first attempt at getting to a bar, we floated on (in our one ring) to the next bar. We were the only ones there, but it did have a nail-embedded slide. It started to rain so heavily, it was genuinely amazing. Sitting there watching everyone with a beer in a bar while it's pissing it down was really fun.

After we caught up with our friends, Mads got rope burn. Two bodies, one ring and a stupid kid with a rope caused this. Carefully, Mads deduced that it was essentially Ben's fault.

MOving on, this bar had a slide called the death slide. IT was 30 feet high (ish) and at the bottom it went back up, so you shot into the river like a bullet. GUESS WHO GOT STUCK AT THE BOTTOM? THREE TIMES! Mads was really crap at having fun. It was very embarrassing as people were laughing as she had to walk out of the slide, and literally hop into the water!! After stripping off she eventually reached Ben's level of sliding skills, and shot into the middle of the river (again like the forementioned bullet). She loved this, so did it repeatedly whilst Ben nursed
his balls.

At another bar there was an inflatable where you jump on to it and two others jump together so you go flying. Ben want to be the flyist so jumped, and fell. And jumped, and fell... He was rubbish. Unfortunately he got trapped underneath and was convinced he was going to die. It was quite scary actually, as he didn't come up for ages.(sorry mums)
But he was fine. After this incident we also witnessed a girl almost break her spinal column. No more inflatables.

Here there was a rope swing that Mads loved. She thought it would be a good idea to pretend that she hadn't caught the rope that Ben had thrown to bring her back from the fast, raging river. Ben (and others) went white. Apparently pretending to drown isn't funny whatever country you're in. NEedless to say, Ben worried so everytime Mads wanted to jump in he had to go too. Holding her hand. (we were drunk though.. sorry mums)

A combination of mid-nineties dance music and ancient ice-age mountains was surreal to say the least, but the best
fun we've had so far.

All in all, Vang Vieng was amazing. But definitely ruined by tourism.

Posted by Mads and Ben 02:33 Archived in Laos Comments (0)


sunny 35 °C

What we've learned: A variety of things.

Dear all,

Sorry for the delay but we have been having too much fun to even think about anyone other than ourselves.

We arrived in Pai after a 4 hour ordeal on a bus from Chiang Mai, this particular bus route consisted of 784 hair-pin bends (fact -look it up) up and down a mountain. The bus driver did not slow down for a single one, and thought them to be the suitable places to overtake other traffic. After arriving in Pai, finally, we had a beer to celebrate our lives and look at a map of this amazing place. We had previously booked a hut at a guest house with breathtaking views and decided to walk there...Bad move! It was very, very hot indeed and although on the map it looked very simple, the map did not tell us that the end of the walk included an extremely steep hill with 1001 barking dogs all the way up. Needless to say, we arrived at our new home making a very embarrassing first impression (very red and horribly sweaty). But, it was perfect.

But then....

After a few drinks to “calm us down” we set off to beddington, which did not go as planned. Unfortunately, Mads woke up in the middle of the night extremely ill, sore throat etc.. After some medicine and a bit of love from Ben, they were wide awake. There is a considerable amount of wildlife in the mountains in Pai, and this kept us awake. Suddenly, there is a noise that made us both cling to each other for dear life. The noise we heard sounded like a clock tower. However, the chimes got louder and faster, and Ben was sure that it was coming closer and lay in bed paralysed with fear. 'Ben, I'm scared', 'BE QUIET!!!' That was it, we were sure they were coming, we'd entered some kind of cult and everyone we'd met were in on it, including the townsmen. Previously we'd met a boy called Felix, for approx. 2 mins, we trusted him and concluded that he wasn't part of this murderous cult. This fear brought us an exceptional amount of escape routes.

Plan A.
Footsteps and more gongs near our isolated hut. Ben beats them with the fan and Mads jumps out of the window and runs in underwear into the darkness with Ben sacrificing himself. Soon to realise, it's the nice owner of our camp witnessing Mads sprinting in the dark, asking if we're ok, but Mads has gone..

These ideas went on all night, until it got to morning, when we decided we were allowed to sleep. What an adventure.

The Next day it was discovered, by us, that we had both entered “the realm of the unwell”. We had both acquired colds previously thought by Ben to be the first signs of malaria. (I've just been asked/ordered/forced to inform you that Madeline was considerably sicker than Ben) .....(because of her chest) – she has a bad chest.

After we pulled each other out our mosquito net, we set off down to town where we, like all good tourists, rented out a moped risking the lives of the locals and other tourists. However, everyone was doing it, so it's safe right? Anyway, so like the geeks we are, we were the only couple who wore helmets and travelled at 20KM/hour. But it was so much fun. Pai is so beautiful and we spent the days travelling on our new bike in and out of this mountainous valley, through villages, past elephants and across mountains. It was amazing. We couldn't leave. We stumbled across some hotspings, £4 in. It was shit. We weren't allowed to swim, rainy season and all that. But we did see a rather effective boiling of an egg. We were in the hotsprings national park for approx. 7 minutes (completing the so-called trail) before speeding off (20km/h) on our sweet ride. That night, Mads felt ill and Ben went and practiced turning right, and turns out left turns were hard too with all that power behind him.

In our nine days in Pai, we had to get over our horrible disease and relax, but it didn't stop us doing what we like to call 'adventurous activities'. One of which was elephant riding (this is not for the faint hearted) This particular ride consisted of bare-back riding for 10 minutes and frolicks in the river for as long as you can.
For example:
We were made to sit on the elephants neck and were tipped off into the raging river (this wasn't fun the first time and didn't increase in pleasure the next 10 times we were asked to do it). Madeline was also scared she was going to swept underneath the adjacent elephant. As the time went by, the activity became more scary, more tiring and just as weird with this local laughing HYSTERICALLY at the foreigners who are on the brink of tears.

On a serious note the elephants were border line beaten and hooked in the ears to make them roll and bend for 'our fun'.

Along our Pailand journey, we met many people, including our Canadian counterparts.. our new best friends forever Keira and Nat. We ventured to some waterfalls on our bikes (they had a monstrosity and we a moped) and sat and watching the crazy people sliding off. We climbed down a steep and slippery rockface to an empty pool at the bottom. Ha, we thought we can have a good swim with no one around. But, no! More and more faces peered over this verge, pointing and taking pictures. What is going on? Are lions and bears going to be released on us for their pleasure? Are flash floods common in this particular pool? Anacondas were our conclusion. We then proceeded to leave the pool and climb up the extremely steep rock face, which we subsequently slipped back down – sort of. ( Mads just lay flat on the rock and wept). Ah yes, we see now, this is why no-one's here. It's impossible to get up!!!

After nine days in Pai, we thought we should move on. It was perfect there, and we didn't want to leave. However, we booked our 24 hour bus journey to Vang Vieng, Laos, and said goodbye to our friends and our new home.

Mads and Ben.

Posted by Mads and Ben 01:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


Chiang Mai

overcast 35 °C

What we have learned: Never! eat the English breakfast provided by the Thai train service.

Hello followers,
After enduring a 14 hour train journey, we have spent 3 full days in the beautiful city of Chaing Mai. I will not lie the train journey for us /Madeline was awful, after she convinced herself that she had forgotten the art of rest (otherwise known as sleep). She experimented with several sleeping positions and various beds before deciding the best direction for sleep was backwards, hugging a pillow she deemed 'too big for ones neck'.

When we finally arrived at 'The Royal Guesthouse' where Madeline proceeded to burst into tears at the sight of our modest room we had piece of toast and decided to go and rent a couple of sit-up-and-beg bikes for a relaxing jaunt around the Old Town of Chiang Mai. Or so we thought...

If you have been to Thailand you will understand that traffic rules are non-existent. At junctions, who cares if it's a red light, eh? Well we do. Due to the very fact that Thai drivers like to line up and drive at full speed towards each other and close their eyes, we could only pluck up the courage to turn left at any junction or opportunity, it didn't matter if we knew we had to go right or straight-on, left it was. Despite Ben's brave intentions, 'Mads! this time we go straight ahead, not ready for right, straight ok!! Ready? Go go go... nooooooooooooo I can't, go left'. Meaning we went round in a circle for a few hours. Lovely. This applies to crossing roads too, red light?? F**k it, we'll just drive at the tourists and hope they die.

After our 'relaxing' bike ride, we returned to the hotel where Ben was in charge of touching the doors so Madeline could enter and leave the bathroom, whether he was in the room with her or not. She had to go in her flip-flops as the ground was 'too dirty' and the door handles were 'too rusty'. We then resided downstairs and met a lovely French couple. We spent the night in the Night Bazaar, which was full of wonderful Thai artifacts (highly recommend).

On Thursday we had booked ourselves up for a day of zip-lining over the top of a rainforest. Our guides were amazing, and it was one of the scariest things we have done so far, especially when we were suspended from our backs lowered 70 feet to the forest floor. Look it up, it's called Flight of the Gibbons in Chiang Mai. After this we got quietly pissed with the lovely French couple and passed out in our room (obviously on our own sheets, which Madeline has named our bed blouses, as theirs are apparently 'not clean'!!! You'd think it was her who has OCD)!

We woke up today with a sick stomach and a headache, and a date with the lovely French couple to the mountain of Doi Pui, which has the most sacred temple in Thailand, or Asia or the world or something massive like that. Bit boring. We also visited a hill tribe in the Doi Village, which was amazing. It was a good day. For the first time it was sunny, not sweaty, and we relaxed in our freezing pool, which was heavenly.

Rating for Chiang Mai: 8.99999/10.

We are off to Pai tomorrow to stay in some bamboo huts for 2 pounds a night.
Pictures and videos of stuff up soon.

Ben and Madeline.

Posted by Mads and Ben 03:53 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

The City of Angels



Well....what a journey to get to Bangkok.

What we've learnt: Bangkok is full of cheats and liars.

We left Otford at 3.45 on Thursday 14th July, on our way to Heathrow. We checked in amazingly however, the stupid b**ch refused us an upgrade. We had three hours to drink beer until our flight to Delhi, which was thorougly enjoyable. The flight was as sweet as a nut until 13 minutes before landing, when it turned into another proposed two hours of flying and we were headed for Mumbai. WHAT!? There was raucaus amongst the mixed-races on our plane and suddenly the plane did a loop-the-loop and we were heading North for the wonderful Amritsar. Heard of it? NO. Because 3 planes a year (average) leave that place. We found out that our plane had been re-directed due to a (and we quote) 'light mist' in Delhi. Despite our usual impatient natures (not Madeline), we were not phased by this, as I (Madeline) have mentioned in my previous blog, we had 14 hours to wait in Delhi, so this little detour took 3 hours off this and was merely a blip.

We finally arrived in Delhi with approx. 10 hours to kill. Worst phrase ever. So we slept on and off and demolished three chicken Mcdonalds (no beef in India, weird). The time came to board our flight to Bangkok, it couldn't have come sooner and our spirits began to lift. Madeline is a pretty good sleeper so she sprawled across two seats and Ben and slept the whole 4 hours. IT came to her attention after the journey that Ben was a quivering wreck. This was caused by the fact the aeroplane was making a 'funny' noise and he was convinced of our imminent death. Hey-ho we arrived safely, without being arrested by immigration/Thai police for whatever heroine/crack/illegal dog was planted on us by bad, bad people.

Listening to many friends tell us to PUT IT ON THE METER, we did, and we STILL got ripped off. We didn't care, we just wanted to get a couple of hours sleep as by this time we had been travelling for nearly 40 hours. We got to our room and slept for two hours, which actually turned into 9 hours of sleep. We woke up to the sound of thunder and the heaviest rain known to man. It really was amazing. So we went for a beer on our rooftop bar.

We stayed in Khao San road, which resembles a Thai Malia (in my opinion).. hunted down a restaurant and ordered a beer. Unfortuately we had arrived on 'Buddha day'....Meaning, no beer. ANYWHERE!! We had a delicious dinner, and went back to our bar where the man was secretly serving, how sweet.

Due to jet lag we pretty much slept for the next 3 days.. getting ripped off by taxi drivers intermittantly when visiting China town (amazing) and a snake farm (ok) where we saw Cobras attack a man. We are now waiting for our train to take us north, we are over the jet lag, finally so are hoping to do more exciting trips and maybe tackle a cobra of our own.

Posted by Mads and Ben 01:57 Comments (0)

5 days to go

It is FIVE days until we're setting off to South-East Asia, and I'm (madeline) starting to get nervous.

After an exciting two weeks realising that we do not have the right jabs (and that there's not enough time to get the right jabs), it is time to begin packing our half empty backpacks. OH wait, not half empty as they're filled with 20 bottles of mosquito spray because we did not get the right jabs.
When booking our flights to Bangkok all those months ago, Ben did not realise the extent of our stopover in Delhi. So yes, we have a ten hour flight to Delhi and a 14 hour wait inside the airport. This is all I can think of at this time.

All will be forgiven when we arrive at Bangkok 36 hours after we have left the comfort of the Kent countryside, when we will be sat on the roof of our hotel drinking a beer in the rain.

Posted by Mads and Ben 03:30 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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