There is supposed to be a beautiful waterfall half an hour outside Luang Prabang so we decide that today is a good day to go see it. We couldn’t get a hold of the boys this morning, who are staying at a different hostel, so after a quick breakfast we find a tuk tuk to take us out to the waterfall, and ask him to make a stop at the boys’ hostel to see if we can find them. Our driver agrees to stop, acknowledges that he knows what hostel we’re asking him to go to, and somehow still manages to ignore what we asked and just drives us straight to the waterfall without the boys. Thanks bro.
I get up at 6:30 in order to take a shower and make it in time for breakfast downstairs, which they asked us to pre-order from a menu last night. I ordered a banana pancake, which turns out to be the best of all the breakfasts. Bonus. They also asked us to order our lunch, which they’ve packed up in boxes so we can bring them with us on the boat. So lovely!
7am breakfast isn’t so bad after falling sleep at 9pm the night before. We wake up and go downstairs to eggs and toast which aren’t bad. The hotel also provides a packed lunch for the boat ride. We meet some guys from England at breakfast who are also on their way to Laos and are taking the same slow boat that we are.
We get up early to catch a van that will take us closer to Laos. We won’t actually reach Laos for 2 more days, and will be traveling mostly by boat, but today we take a van further north-east in Thailand. The van fits 10 people so we share the space with some other groups of people. There is a group of girls (3 American and 1 Canadian), a German couple, an older French guy, and a younger guy who looks Scandinavian, but I don’t know for sure where he’s from. It’s a quiet ride to the hotel.
Doi Suthamp Temple is the most famous in Chiang Mai, so I have to see it. We wake up relatively late and go downstairs for our delicious croissant breakfast creation. I am set on seeing this temple, which Ilona has no desire to visit, so instead of dragging her up 300 stairs (we’ll get to the stairs) and instead of missing it, I choose to go alone. As directed by the front desk guy downstairs, I hop into a tuk tuk that takes me to the Chiang Mai Zoo, which is right at the bottom of the mountain heading up to the Temple. From the Zoo I get in a big red truck/bus crossover thing that is another form of taxiing in Thailand.
After breakfast we decide to use this day to get some things done. I haven’t done a laundry yet since we’ve arrived, Ilona needs to send a package of things home (which I was lucky enough to have Dolly do for me when I was in India), we have not decided on a way to get to Laos yet, and we have yet to book a place to stay in Koh Phangan for the Full Moon party, so most of our afternoon consists of those sorts of things. Not too exciting, sorry.
This is a post I wrote when I was on my first backpacking trip. I was young, naive, and didn’t understand the terrible consequences of participating in tours like these.
I struggled with wether to remove this or not, but to erase this post and pretend I never went would do no good. I had to learn from this mistake, but as I look back I am embarrassed and full of shame for being so blind to the treatment of these poor animals.
I in no way support animal tourism, and now do my best to be a “woke” traveller wherever I go in the world. I urge you to do the same.
It’s 6:45am before our train pulls into the Chiang Mai station. This is a bad thing, because it means our 16 hour train ride has turned into an 18 hour train ride, but kinda a good thing because it means we are not going to be roaming around the city looking for a place to stay in the dark.
We wake up at noon to a phone call from the front desk asking us if we will be checking out. Shit. We slept in WAY too late and now we’re not only late for check out, but late for our train to Chiang Mai!
I wake up to the sound of rain falling against the rusty rooftops just outside my window. It’s a beautiful sort of rain. The kind that comes crashing, refreshes the air, and then leaves. I fall back to sleep, but when I wake up the air is as hot, sticky, and humid as it had been yesterday. The rain gave a false sense of hope.