Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Lunch break during the 12-hour bus ride from Luang Prabang to Vientiane

Songtheauw breaks down!

World leaders are in town too.

No information could be found about this statue. Ek insists it's an important landmark.

Wat Thad Luang

Wat Dam

a la champs élysées?

a la arc du triomphe?

Presidential Palace

Another boat ride

BBQ lunch by the river

With a view like this

And then we go ziplining!

Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh

Luang Prabang

This is a town that's so pretty it looks and feels like a movie set!

Morning alms offering

Breakfast at the lovely courtyard in our hotel

Talaat Sao

Our favourite cafe

Kuangsi Waterfalls

Sunset seen from Mt Phousi

Night market offerings

Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh

Friday, November 2, 2012

Luangsay Cruise

Our luxury cruise got off to a bad start. We didn't spot the Luangsay representative at Chiangkong, so cleared Thai immigration and crossed the river ourselves. Over at the Mae sai side the Luangsay greeter totally disregarded us when we went up to the Luangsay counter. We had to tell him we signed up for the luangsay cruise to elicit a "oh, really?" out of him. Guess they don't usually see too many Asian customers.
He told us to go over to the Luangsay office first, which we did. I asked for an immigration form that everyone else was filling out. I was told by a luangsay staff holing a stack of immigration forms to get the form next door at the immigration office. What? Again?
By then I have just about lost it. I got up at 5am, had no coffee, got snubbed 2 times and all this after planning my trip around this Luangsay cruise, and paying more than double the usual slow boat to Luang Prabang. I let my displeasure show and it became quite a ruckus, resulting in the other passengers (mainly European) not looking into my eyes for the rest of the day.
Anyway, the boat trip was nice. The slow pace of the boat allowed time for quiet contemplation of the Mekong river and its surrounding landscape. By the time I reached the Luangsay lodge in pakbeng that night, all angst in me had died. The manager at the lodge though, was very apologetic about the whole incident and offered us a bottle of wine as an olive branch.
We walked out to pakbeng town that night and saw a ton of decent guesthouses. That convinced that the premium we paid for Luangsay wasn't worth it. The boat was the same as any other long tail boat, albeit it is better outfitted. The Luangsay lodge is not exactly dripping with luxury.
Stopping by 2 tribal villages with the cruise was part of the itinerary. These villages are much poorer than those we saw in Chiangrai. Seeing the torn and worn clothes the children wore is enough to make your heart weep. Most of them don't go to school as each family only have enough money to send one child to school. And that is usually for only 5 years.

The Mekong

Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh

PDA 1-day tour in Chiang Rai

We opted for a 1-day tour with non-profit organization, PDA, after hearing about the socially responsible tour packages they offer. We took a long tail boat ride, elephant ride and 2-hour trek plus visits to 3 different hill tribes.

The elephant ride was something that left me unsettled. Seeing how they were shackled broke my heart. And when the guide told us that these elephants are bought from laos, I felt like I personally poached these elephants myself.

However, PDA's work in not bringing tourists to Mickey Mouse hill tribe villages is something I applaud. We saw real working and living villages and no one is putting on a show for us. That means we only saw 1 villager in costume (picture below). We didn't see any long-neck tribal villagers, or little children dressed in tribal costumes. Which is more than fine by me.

Akha hill tribe villager

Elephant ride

Lunch at a lahu home

Rice harvesting
Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh

Tachilek crossing

So much has been made of the border crossing between Burma and Thailand, due to the infamous golden triangle reputation. Expecting it to be dangerous and dark, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it's a bright and happy place with tons ifs day tourists from either side crossing over to the markets on both sides of the border. Some cross over for just an hour or 2, shopping for things as trivial as Chinese snacks.

In fact the atmosphere at the market over at the tachilek side was simply wonderful. A melting pot of Thai, Burmese and Chinese people and goods, nobody cares where you come from. They just really want to cut a good deal.

And clearing customs, surprisingly, was a breeze.

We then took a songtheauw, a mini bus and then a coach into Chiangmai.

Thank you, Chiangmai for being lovely.
Thank you, Mo Rooms for a quirky room and good breakfasts.
Thank you, Moon and pris for joining us there.

Crossing the friendship bridge

Rabbit room at Mo Rooms

Tiger kingdom

Thai orchid cooking class

Eclectic style at Mo Rooms

Thapae gate

Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Wow Mandalay...

It's hard to love Mandalay, it's polluted, noisy and dirty. It's hard to find restaurants to eat at, there are hardly any cafes to chill in. The sun from 10.30am to 4.30pm is so unrelenting.

It is made up for by the sincerest people that can be found anywhere. Hold up a map and you can be sure someone will to your rescue. Left your mobile phone in a cab? Call the cab company and the driver will bring it back on the same day.

And best of all, come sunset and the city is transformed. The shadows cast gives a different dimension to everything.

At the Jewellery market where foreigners are hardly found.

Young monks watching the sunset, not sure if the work of the tourism board; buses of them are spotted at u bein bridge.

Young nuns join in the fun too.

Lovely Innwa. Can so imagine a banyan tree opening here. Great respite from the polluted streets of Mandalay.

Scenes at Innwa- not much has changed since colonial times. Locals wear longyis and drive horse carts. Europeans set up nice tables for lunch.

Young monks doing their homework at the teak monastery at Innwa.

Sunset at Mandalay hill

Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Balloons over Bagan

The best way to experience Bagan is to go up for a balloon flight. Which we did at 5.30am. Champagne and croissants followed for a perfect end.

Wishing you were here,
Mr and Mrs Koh