Pai – Hippies, Canyons, and Street Food

After a few days in Chiang Rai, we wanted to visit Pai, a small town in Northwest Thailand.  Unfortunately there is no direct bus from Chiang Rai, so to get there, we had to first travel back down to Chiang Mai and then up again to Pai.

First we had to get a tuk tuk to the Chiang Rai bus station, where we were pointed toward a booth to buy a ticket to Chiang Mai.  The bus to Chiang Mai was pretty uneventful and took about 3 or 4 hours.  Once we got there, we had to figure out where to buy a ticket for Pai.  We asked the woman sitting at the kiosk thing and she pointed us to another bus station “bus station 2” that was right next to the one we were in.  Once we found the right place, we bought our tickets and had to wait about half an hour for the van to leave.

The van to Pai bordered on agonizing.  The trip is famed for its 762 curves, some of which are vomit-inducing hairpins, and the driver was persistent on maintaining a ludicrous speed the entire way.  To top it off, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so we were in an unpleasant state of hungry yet nauseous…

It took another 3-4 hours to finally get to Pai, but it was definitely worth the trip!  We found a cheap room right on the main street right away, just as the sun was going down.

Pai is known for being a “hippie town” and very tourism-oriented, but picturesque and laid back.

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Cute little town of Pai

We spent four relaxing days in Pai enjoying the superb scenery, drinking smoothies and kombucha at all the different cafes, enjoying some of the best Thai food we’d had in the entire country, and having a few drinks at the various bars around town that had live musicians every night.

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There were lots of street vendors every night selling food and clothing.
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Couldn’t resist a photo of this little guy
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Iced chai masala, yum!
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Street art in Pai
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Sitting at a bar on the main strip, enjoying a beer and people watching
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More street art

The last day was probably our favorite.  We let ourselves sleep in past breakfast and got brunch at a place called Ohm Garden Cafe which was delicious, then hung out at our bungalow for a few hours before heading to Pai Canyon to see the sunset.

We took a roundtrip tuk tuk for 100 baht each and got there about 30-40 minutes before the sun went down.  We explored the area and climbed around the rocks.  The view was breathtaking!  (Though some call it the “Thai’s response to the Grand Canyon” which is really reaching.)

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The sunset was amazing and it was the perfect way to spend our last day in Pai.

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When we got back and were trying to decide where to eat for dinner, Joe had the idea that we sample a whole bunch of street food instead of going to a restaurant.  It ended up being a great idea!

We started out with sushi that was only 5-10 baht per piece!  Then Joe tried a couple of different sausages on a stick.

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Next, Joe finally made good on his promise to try a fried insect while in Thailand.  His choice was cicadas, but the woman threw in a couple of meal worms as a bonus.  He said the locusts were crunchy like potato chips and he actually ate a couple of them until he got one that was a little underdone and described it as being “meaty.”  He did not eat any more after that.

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To take his mind off of the chewy insect carcass he had just ingested, we tried some homemade beef jerky which was pretty good.  They even warmed it up over a fire for us.

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Lastly we got a piece of BBQ chicken which was pretty good but it was weirdly salty…kind of like ham.

We finished our street food tour with a warm Soy Chai Masala.

After that, we decided to head over to a bar called Edible Jazz (where we had spent the last two nights as well…really liked it there) where we sat on pillows on a bamboo platform and watched the live band they had that night.

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After a couple of drinks, we stopped for one last snack at a “Grandma’s Pancakes.” Where an older Thai woman made us the most artistic silver dollar pancakes stuffed with bananas and drizzled in chocolate.  They were only 40 baht for 10!

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We had a few debates about Pai and whether or not it we liked it.  Pai is undeniably a fun place to be, but it’s not exactly ‘authentic’ or ‘traditional.’  It didn’t really feel like being in a foreign or exotic country and sometimes it felt like there were more tourists than Thais there.  It could have been a town in California or something.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool or enjoyable, just not exactly what you picture when you think of visiting Thailand.  We agreed it was still a place well worth visiting, though.  The vibe was nice and it was a great little vacation from vacation!

Battambang – Crocodiles, Killing Caves, and a Bamboo Train

After wrenching ourselves away from the beautiful island of Koh Rong, we spent another night in Sihanoukville and booked a bus to Battambang for the next day.  We just couldn’t do the night bus.  (We’re still scarred from our journey from Nong Khiaw to Don Det in Laos.)

“How long is the bus?” we asked the woman at our guesthouse.

“…maybe you get there at 3 or 4pm.”

Well, the bus was to leave at 7am and we had to backtrack all the way to Phnom Penh before heading west to Battambang.  Who knows how she came up with that answer, but in reality, we arrived in Battambang at about 9pm.

Luckily we had looked up accommodation in advance and found a hostel called Here Be Dragons a little outside of town.  We instructed our tuk tuk driver where to take us from the bus station and we were greeted with a smile and shown our room as soon as we got there.

The hostel did not disappoint.  After we dropped our bags off, we headed back downstairs to the bar to collect our free beers that we were given on arrival.  Even better, they had Kaiserdom in stock (for only $2!) and we nearly died of happiness, as it had been months since we’d had anything but local watery lagers.  The bar was also full of locals and expats happy to chat which was nice.

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We had a late breakfast the next morning, and it was brutally hot that day, so it took us a couple hours to get ourselves motivated to go out and see the sights.  That ended up working out just fine, because wanted to be at our last destination at sunset, anyway.  We got a tuk tuk to take us around all day for $15 and set off.

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Driving across the bridge in Battambang

The first stop was a local crocodile farm.  As soon as we got there, a woman greeted us and asked us for $2 each.  Unfortunately we only had 100 dollar bills on us, because those are what come out of the ATM machines in Cambodia.  We scrambled to find any small bills we had on us and found a total of only $2.50.  To our surprise, she just smiled, took our $2.50 and assured us that it was just fine.

She ushered us to the pits where the adult crocodiles are kept, she said there were about 400 and some of them were huge!  And sadly, they looked pretty cramped in there.  Excited by the prospect of seeing giant reptiles, we had failed to consider the ethics of a visit like this beforehand.

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Driving to the Crocodile Farm
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One of the crocodile pits
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The water is shaded for the crocodiles or they can get out and sunbathe

The woman that greeted us was very friendly and her English was better than anyone else we had encountered in Cambodia.  When we asked what the crocodiles were used for, she told us that the leather is exported for handbags and other things, the meat is sent to Vietnam for eating, and some are sent to the China to be used for medicine…Eek.

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An especially formidable looking croc peeking out

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Feeling depressed about our contribution to this less than ideal situation, we were glad to find out that the woman working there was not the owner, she was just working there to improve her English and save up money to buy a tuk tuk.  She told us she aspired to be the first female tuk tuk driver in Battambang, which is actually pretty cool.  And we were glad to be able to help her out.

As we were walking away from the crocodile pits and back toward the exit, she surprised us with two baby crocodiles that we got to hold!  She told us they were twins, one male and one female.  They were making the cutest noises and she said it was because it was almost their feeding time.

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Babies!

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Our next stop was the Bamboo Train, so we hopped back on the tuk tuk to take us there.  Note:  We had no idea what the bamboo train was, we had just read that it was one of the ‘top things to do’ in Battambang and figured that meant we should probably do it.

So, we drove on to the “entrance” which was basically a couple of stalls selling drinks and snacks.  On the other side we could see tracks with what looked like big pallets on wheels.

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The bamboo train

As we approached, we were asked to pay the entrance fee, then pointed toward one of the pallets.  It turned out that the pallets were made of bamboo and that is what we would be riding up the tracks!

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Don’t worry, it’s five stars!

We sat down on the first one and one of the guys hopped on the back and started the engine.  It started out slow, but soon enough we were racing along through the fields.  Not to mention, the rails were not lined up very well, so there was a huge jolt every few feet and huge bang to go along with it.  It was loud, a little terrifying, but mostly really fun!

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Ready to go
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Racing through the jungle
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A small bridge

Off in the distance, we could see something on the tracks.  As we came closer, we realized it was another bamboo train going in the opposite direction.  Just as we were wondering how this would be handled, our driver slowed the train and motioned for us to get off.  We were in the middle of nowhere, so we had to just kind of stand in the brush once we jumped off.

Then, the driver of the other bamboo train came over and helped our driver disassemble our train.  They took it completely off the tracks and set it aside, let the other train pass, then reassembled it on the tracks!  Then the drivers hopped back on their respective trains and continued on the journey.

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Letting another train pass by
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Reassembling the train

After about a 30 minute ride, we slowed to a stop in what seemed like a random spot with about 6 booths selling drinks and tshirts, in the middle of no where.  We stopped and had a beer (and enjoyed the shade) before getting back on the train and heading back the way we came.  Apparently the bamboo train is used (or at least originally intended) to transport goods.  A bizarre little tourist attraction, but definitely a unique experience!

On our way to the next stop, our tuk tuk driver pulled over to a small cart on the side of the road.  He told us they had a tasty treat there…

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Mmmm…rats.

We almost tried a rat, but it had clearly been baking in the sun all day, so we passed.  Our driver also pointed out the jar of fruit soaking in rice whisky which Joe did try and said it was very tasty!

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Trying some local whisky

We got back on the tuk tuk and drove to Phnom Sampeau, a large hill about 7 miles out of Battambang.  There are large caves in the hill that were used by the Khmer Rouge to deposit bodies of the people they murdered.  The people were bludgeoned to death, then tossed down a hole that lead to the caves.

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Climbing Phnom Sampeau
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Allll the steps!
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A painting depicting the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge

There was a small memorial inside the cave with skulls and bones inside, but it didn’t seem well looked after.  We could also look up and see the hole where the bodies were thrown.  In some ways, the lack of upkeep made it even more depressing than the killing fields we visited in Phnom Penh.

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A small memorial containing human skulls of the victims
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The hole where victims were thrown into the cave.

By this time it was late afternoon, and we walked around Phnom Sampeau to our last stop, the bat cave!

As we got closer, we started hearing a strange sound.  As we rounded the hill, we got a glimpse of the cave and it was clear that that was where the sound was coming from.  At first the cave looked like it had dark rocks inside, but then we realized that they were actually just covered in bats!

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Those aren’t dark rocks!

Just before sunset, the bats started to stir, and then they started flying out of the cave!  It was a slow stream at first, but they kept coming and coming!

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The beginning of the flight
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Bats!

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After watching them for a few minutes, our driver met up with us and told us to get back in the tuk tuk and go to the other side of the hill to see more bats.  Once we got to the other side, we climbed up the hill and got to stand right next to the mouth of the cave.

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There was traditional Khmer music coming from somewhere down in the village and it almost looked like the bats were dancing to the music as they flew into the sunset.  It was pretty amazing!  Though the bats were kind of smelly.

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The smokey looking trail on the left is actually the trail of bats!
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It seemed like they would never stop coming out of the cave!
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A gorgeous sunset over the jungle

We ended the day with dinner and one more round of Kaiserdom back at the hostel.  We had almost skipped Battambang because it was slightly out of the way, but we were really glad that didn’t!

Back to Nong Khiaw – The Viewpoint

After two phenomenal days spent in Muang Ngoi, it was time for us to start heading south.  Our visa would be expiring in 11 days and and we had to get all the way down to Cambodia before that.

We took the boat back to Nong Khiaw in the morning and decided that we couldn’t resist staying one more day, so we walked across the bridge and booked a bungalow for the night.

After dropping off our things, we decided the day would be well spent hiking up the steep trail to the Nong Khiaw Mountain Viewpoint; for what promised to be a spectacular 360 degree view of Nong Khiaw and its surroundings.

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Warning of unexploded bombs at the beginning of the trail
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A creature we spotted on the hike
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Beginning the ascent

The next hour and a half was sweaty trekking up steep inclines and steps through dense jungle and bamboo forests.

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Hiking up the mountain to the viewpoint

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Every once in a while, there would be a clearing in the trees and we could get a peak of what awaited us at the top of the mountain.

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The view from about half way up the mountain

We pressed on and on until we finally made it to the very top, and it really did not disappoint!

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We finally made it to the top!

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The view from the top made the difficult journey seem like nothing and we were happy to spend half an hour up there, enjoying the scenery while we regained our strength.

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Catching our breath at the top

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In some ways, the way back down the mountain was even harder than the way up due to the risk of sliding.  On the particularly steep parts, there were ropes on the side of the trail that you could use to brace yourself, but sometimes the pebbles underneath our feet would start rolling while we were standing on them.  We lost our footing more than a couple of times, but we made it to the bottom unscathed.

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Ropes lining the trail to aid in the treacherous descent

Once we were back down in Nong Khiaw, we crossed the bridge just in time for sunset, before a delicious curry dinner at Alex Restaurant and the comforts of our bungalow.

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Sunset over the Nam Ou River

We were really happy to squeeze one more day in Nong Khiaw before making our journey down through Laos.  Thus far, the Northern villages had been our favorite part of the country, but we were also excited to get down South!

Breakfast: 28,000kip

Oreos: 10,000kip

Boat: 50,000kip

Lunch (Joy’s): 65,000kip

Viewpoint Entrance Fee: 40,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Water/Beer: 15,000kip

Alex Restaurant: 101,000kip

Sunrise Bungalow: 50,000kip

Total Spent: 364,000kip ($44.90 USD)

Partying in Luang Prabang – The Bowling Alley

We spent our fourth day in Luang Prabang doing mostly nothing, which was absolutely glorious.

We started off with breakfast at a cafe by the river, then headed to a local bar/restaurant/lounge called Utopia, the same one we had spent an evening drinking, a few days before.  Boasting to be “Zen by Day, Groovy by Night,” Utopia was the perfect place to lay back and relax the day away, lounging on cushions on the deck overlooking the river.

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Sitting by the river on the deck of Utopia

After laying around all day, we decided to watch the sunset at Wat Chom Si.  The Buddhist temple sits atop Mount Phou Si, a 330 foot hill in the center of Luang Prabang, which we climbed up about half an hour before the sun went down.  We hadn’t expected much out of it, but the view of the city and surrounding scenery was surprisingly spectacular!

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The view from the top of Mount Phou Si

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It was a bit cloudy, so the sunset was a little lack luster; but once it had disappeared behind the mountains, the clouds lit up in all kinds of stunning colors.

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Then, we walked around the temple to see the moon on the other side!

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We had worked up an appetite climbing up and down the hill, and decided on another dinner of Lao barbecue.  This time, we tried a place by the river where each person gets a plate for 60,000kip, and can refill it an unlimited number of times with raw meats and veggies to cook.

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We had heard it on the lips of other backpackers many times since arriving in Luang Prabang: “Have you been to the bowling alley?” The bowling alley is one of the few establishments open past the midnight curfew in the city, and where all of the boisterous partiers go when the bars in town shut down.  We were curious, but hadn’t made it there yet, mostly because we usually go to bed long before anyone goes there.

On this night, we were determined to see what it was about.  We headed back to Utopia around 10, where most of the backpackers seem to start their nights.  After a few beers in the garden, things started to shut down around 11:30.  At this point, there was a mass exodus down the path to a hoard of tuk-tuks waiting to shuttle people to the bowling alley.  As we walked toward them, we made fast friends with a pair of Dutch guys that were happy to bargain for us down to only 5,000kip each for the ride.

Once our tuk tuk was full, we set out on a short ride to the lanes.  I think we had expected some kind of swag bowling alley, but it the exact opposite.  The place was all white concrete and bright, BRIGHT fluorescent lights–not at all what you’d expect for a late night party spot, but party we did.  The group of us in the tuk tuk ended up going in on a lane together which cost 20,000kip per person, per game.  Every lane was packed with backpackers drinking, bowling, and being extremely loud, as is expected.  Our lane was no exception and we soon made friends with the group of people in the lane next to us, making our crowd even bigger and louder.  It was really quite fun!

Around 2am, our group decided it was time to head back to town, so we shared a loud, drunken, and hilarious tuk tuk ride back to our guesthouses.  Shamefully, we didn’t have a camera or phone on us so we don’t have any pictures of the night, but we will surely hold the memory forever in our hearts.

Breakfast: 60,000kip

Utopia: 100,000kip

Mount Phou Si Fee: 40,000kip

Street Barbecue: 150,000kip

Utopia: 85,000kip

Tuk Tuk: 10,000kip

Bowling Alley: 110,000kip

Tuk Tuk: 20,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Accommodation: 80,000kip

Total Spent: 660,000kip ($81.51 USD)

Luang Prabang – Bed Bugs and the Kuang Si Waterfall

We woke up around 9am, realizing in horror that we had been afflicted by one of a traveler’s (or anyone’s) worst fears: bed bugs.

While I had accidentally (and thankfully) fallen asleep before washing the Deet I had applied the night before off of my skin, Jojo had not been so lucky.  We quickly packed up our things and got the hell out of there, desperately clinging to the hope that the bugs had not taken our bags for a new home, or a nursery to lay their eggs.

Visions of toting around these disgusting creatures, for weeks or months to come, plagued our minds as we searched for a new place to stay.  We found a place closer to the city center called Chitlatda Guesthouse for only 80,000kip a night, and quickly took it.  It was easily the cheapest place we had found in town and the quality wasn’t bad, either.

To take our minds off of the miserable morning, we walked to the Mekong River for lunch.  We stopped at the first place we came across, a French-styled open air cafe, where we got some of the most delicious barbecued chicken ever!

After walking back to the guesthouse and spending way too much time researching how to get rid of bed bugs while traveling, we decided we would catch the sunset over the river at another one of the cafes while enjoying a dessert of sticky rice cooked in coconut milk with mango, and a mojito.

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Sunset over the Mekong River

Once the sun had gone down, we took a walk along the night market where we treated ourselves to a fresh donut and a couple of clothing items we had been longing for.

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Luang Prabang Night Market

For dinner we ate at a small cafe near our guesthouse in the center of town, where we were served what seemed to be instant curry loaded up with MSG.  Not the greatest meal ever, but everything else we had eaten that day had been excellent so it was okay.  After some more bed bug research, we finally resigned ourselves to sleep, hopelessly attempting to avoid thinking about being dined on by insects.

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We awoke the next day with no new bug bites, to our immense relief!  Although it was still possible we were carrying them in our packs, it seemed promising that we had not been bitten again.

We got up and went out for breakfast at a street food stand selling sandwiches, crepes, and fruit shakes.  While we were eating, a tuk tuk driver approached us offering a ride to the Kuang Si Waterfall which was where we had planned to go on this day.

After negotiating down to 40,000kip each roundtrip, and waiting around for the driver to find enough passengers to fill his tuk tuk, we started on the one hour journey to the falls.  We chatted with the other passengers along the way, including an elderly Japanese man that invited us to come stay with him if we planned to visit Japan.  He even insisted that we trade information so we could contact him.  (Perhaps a visit to Japan is now in our future?)

Upon arrival, the tuk tuk dropped us in the shopping area just before the entrance to the falls.  He told us to meet back in the same place two hours from then so that we could ride back to the city.  We paid the entrance fee to the Kuang Si waterfalls (20,000kip each) and started our ascent!

Before getting to the water, the small trail lead us to the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center which is a Free the Bears facility dedicated to the rescue and conservation of Asiatic Black Bears.  The center houses a moon bear by the name of ChamPa who underwent the first ever neurosurgery procedure on a bear in 2013, to treat a case of hydrocephalus.  The story was featured in National Geographic, which you can read about here.  The bears have large structures that they can climb and play on, as well as hammocks, ponds, and toys.  We walked around the facility, watching them lounging and playing together.  The Bear Rescue Center receives no funding from the Kuang Si Waterfall entrance fee (even though you have to pay it to get to the bear center) so we left a small donation as well.

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Bear playing at the Rescue Center

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After the bears, we followed the rest of the trail to the base of the Kuang Si Waterfalls.  We ascended the mountain through an endless series of pools of beautiful turquoise water.  There were lots of people swimming in the pools, but the water was very cold!

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Jojo in front of Kuang Si Waterfall pools
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Walking through more pools
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And across…

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When we made it to the top of the pools, we crossed the bridge to begin our ascent to the top of the waterfall.  The whole way was very steep, and we were breathless by the time we reached the top.

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The bottom of the Kuang Si waterfall
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The view of the waterfall from the bridge
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Climbing up the mountain

It was all worth it when we got to look down over the waterfall to the pools below, and the lush mountains in the distance.

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Looking down from the top of the Kuang Si waterfall
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The view from the top of the waterfall

We met up with the tuk tuk driver and took us back to city center where we got dinner at another cafe by the river.  Jojo decided to try something called “luang prabang sausage” which was a mysterious ground substance that tasted kind of like meatloaf.

After that, we meandered the night market once more and treated ourselves to khao nom kok, little cakes made with rice flour and coconut cream, before heading back to the guesthouse.

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Luang Prabang Night Market

2/1

Water: 5,000kip

Lunch on the Mekong: 113,000kip

Sticky Rice/Mojito at Sunset: 47,000kip

Night Market Clothes: 265,000kip

Donut: 10,000kip

Curry Dinner: 67,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Accommodation: 80,000kip

Total Spent: 592,000kip ($72.31 USD)

2/2

Street Food Breakfast: 45,000kip

Tuk Tuk: 80,000kip

Kuang Si Entrance Fee: 40,000kip

Beer: 12,000kip

Dinner: 125,000kip

Khao Nom Kok: 5,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Accommodation: 80,000kip

Total Spent: 387,000kip ($47.27 USD)

Cruising Ha Long Bay

About a four drive from the city of Hanoi lies Ha Long Bay, famous for its jade waters and towering limestone karsts.  We had done some research on DIY tours, but because you seem to end up on the same tourist boats in either case, we decided to save ourselves some stress and booked an organized tour from our hotel.

We were picked up in a small van along with about 10 other people and driven to the coastal town of Halong City, the primary gateway to Halong Bay.  Once there, we got off the bus and were lead to the harbor, where we boarded the junk boat that would be our home for the next two days.

We were given a large (but un-special) lunch as we sailed across the water to another harbor, where we got off the boat to go kayaking!  We were surprised to find that it was much sunnier and warmer here than in Hanoi, which really topped off our spectacular journey around the bay.

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Kayaking on Halong Bay
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Evidence of water levels

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Next, we were taken to “Surprise Cave,” located within Bo Hon Island.  After walking through a narrow passage, the cave opened up into a huge underground oasis of stalactites and other rock formations.  We didn’t get many good photos of the cave because our Nikon died, but it was truly spectacular to walk through and explore.

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Surprise Cave

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After visiting the cave, we got back on our boat and enjoyed a sunset cruise through Halong Bay.

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Sunset on Halong Bay

After another large but average meal the guests were invited to lounge on the deck and indulge in overpriced drinks.  Through all of this (including dinner) the crew was playing loud electronic music and flashing rave lights in the dining room.  (It is unknown as to whether this was supposed to be for our enjoyment.)  We found this to be hilarious, but it disgruntled several of the other passengers.  We ordered a couple of pina coladas and sipped rum splashed with coconut milk as we enjoyed the quiet darkness of the bay.

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We retired to our small but comfortable room, equipped with a double bed, private bathroom, and large windows.  Aside from the rats skittering in the ceiling all night, we slept relatively well and undisturbed.

The next morning, we were given breakfast as we made our way to Cat Ba Island, where we dropped off some of the passengers who would be staying there another night.  Then we headed back through the bay to Halong City.

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After lunch, we were back on dry land and on the 4 hour bus back to Hanoi.

We debated over taking another night bus straight away to our next destination, but we were pretty exhausted and decided another night in Hanoi was a better idea.  We found a private room for $10 in an Old Quarter hostel, dropped our stuff, and headed for Ly Van Phuc, also known as “BBQ Chicken Street” where patrons are served freshly barbecued chicken wings, thighs, and feet.

It was about a 45 minute walk, but we figured after sitting on a boat/bus all day, we could use the exercise.  When we finally got there, it was pretty dark and there were no other tourists to be found.  It was a little unnerving as we walked by each establishment, getting stares from all the way down the street, but I think it was mostly because they were waiting to see which vendor we would choose.  They all look exactly the same and serve the exact same items, so we went ahead and picked one for no particular reason.

We decided that after coming such a long way, we best try several items, so we ordered 4 wings, 2 thighs, honey roasted sweet potatoes, and flattened banh my bread toasted and coated in honey.  It was soooo worth the 45 minute walk and I would highly recommend anyone going to Hanoi to make the journey!

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Jojo enjoying dinner on BBQ Chicken Street

As we made our way back to the Old Quarter, we heard music as we approached the street our hostel was on.  On the corner where we were staying, there was a group of Vietnamese people playing traditional instruments for all of the people on the street!  An awesome way to end the night!

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Vietnamese musicians performing on the street in Old Quarter

Day 1: Halong Bay

2-Halong Bay Cruise: 5,095,000vnd ($238.55 USD) *

Booze: 320,000vnd ($14.98 USD)

Day 1 Total Spent: 5,415,000vnd ($253.53 USD)

*We got ripped off on this big time by our hotel.  Other guests on the boat said they only paid $70 each for the same tour.

Day 2: Halong Bay/Hanoi

Ice Cream: 25,000vnd ($1.17 USD)

Water: 10,000vnd ($0.47 USD)

BBQ Chicken: 246,000vnd ($11.52 USD)

Water: 10,000vnd ($0.47 USD)

Accommodation: 220,000vnd ($10.30 USD)

Day 2 Total Spent: 511,000vnd ($23.93 USD)