Bangkok and Laos trip

Old Jan 5th, 2011, 03:04 AM
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Bangkok and Laos trip

I have been planning this trip for eight months now. I was hoping that someone would be able to come with me but it was not to be. I have four weeks in total, pretty much all in Laos most likely.
I flew from Vancouver to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific for $1242 incl tax in economy class. Here is my trip report as it happens.

I flew on Cathay Pacific, whom I have always liked, but they have recently reconfigured their Economy seats. Instead of reclining and having the person who is seated in front of you with their head in your lap, the seats glide. But not much. When the seat glides back the seat bottom somehow turns to plywood. In half an hour my ass was numb. And the headrest ends up a foot higher than your head. The stupidest design and most uncomfortable seat I have been in. And just to make sure that you really realize how uncomfortable they are you need to walk through business class where the seats lie flat into beds with down pillows and comforters.

Just after takeoff I noticed that there was a bulk head window seat empty (in Economy) so I grabbed it and used my daypack as a foot stool which really helped.

I slept 5 minutes at a time on and off for the 13 hour flight. The woman across the aisle was holding her three month old baby who screamed at the top of it’s lungs for most of the 13 hours. Even with ear plugs this kid had such a set of lungs you could not drown her out.
I arrived in Hong Kong rather tired but not too bad considering. I took my jet lag pills from the health food store and popped those every two hours during the flight which really seem to help.

Another genius plan I had was to spend 12 hours in Hong Kong before going on to Bangkok. I figured that I would do some site seeing. Well as fate would have it that was not to be, thank goodness as I was far too tired. I got off the plane to see a Cathay Pacific attendant holding a sign with my name on it. She asked me if I would like to take the next flight to Bangkok instead of waiting 12 hours. Wow, talk about service eh? I was so happy to arrive at 12 noon instead of 12 midnight and even happier to see that both of my suitcases made it too.

Both the Hong Kong and Bangkok airports are new since I have been here last. They are very modern, super clean and shiny and huge. Quite a change from a few years ago. The people who work there are so helpful and friendly. I must look lost sometimes as there were a few times where people would come up to ask me if I needed help and also assisted me with my huge suitcases. I have one 1/2 suitcases full of things to donate to the library and then my own stuff as well. In total they weigh 50 kilos so I struggled with them a bit in the airports. I find that people everywhere are just so nice and helpful though.

My hotel is great. I I booked the Legacy Suites for. $35 a night on Expedia. The room is very modern, clean, spacious and has a little kitchenette. Free breakfast and Wifi is included. The staff are wonderful, friendly and very helpful.

I went down to use the pool and relax but the water was too cold for me. I headed off for a walk as I want to stay awake until a normal bed time to adjust to this time zone.
More tomorrow.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 03:15 AM
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thanks for posting great detail...
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 05:31 AM
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Great start, Debbe - looking forward to hearing about your trip as it progresses as we fully intend to "do" Laos some day...
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 06:18 AM
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Tell us about this:
I have one 1/2 suitcases full of things to donate to the library...

What library? Where? Enjoy BKK. I'm here too.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 06:48 AM
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dog - she's doing 2 weeks of volunteer work in LP:

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-itinerary.cfm
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 07:31 AM
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Thanks Craig, I missed that post. What a good thing to do.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 08:08 AM
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looking forward to more.... cudos to CP for being pro-active
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 01:42 PM
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Thanks everyone. Yes Dogster Craig has filled you in. I realized after I posted that I should have clarified that fact about the library. I bought a second large suitcase at the second hand store which I will leave in LP and filled it with blank exercise books, basic reading books, six digital cameras which they will lend out to students to use, lots of games like scrabble, word games etc. I had a party at my home this summer and had a raffle to raise a little bit of money to buy all of this stuff and had some donated by friends and colleagues as well.
I then had to get permission from Bangkok air to take this extra bag and weight on the flight tomorrow which I do have in writing so wish me luck that it all works out.

I am off for a 6AM pick up to see the floating flower market this AM. I may see you in Bangkok, although I wouldnt know it anyhow.......
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 03:45 AM
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Tourists caught in a trap.

At 7PM I could not stay awake any longer and gratefully fell asleep. I was overjoyed to wake up at 4AM, getting almost 9 hours of sleep. This is even with construction going on all night right next door.

After a light breakfast I was picked up by a van to take me on my half day tour to the floating markets. I thought it was a flower market but I was wrong. My travel companions were a young 30 something couple from South Africa, another couple of the same age from Australia and a young man here on business from Hungary. He and I hung out for the morning.

We drove about an hour and a half out of Bangkok and saw some very interesting and lush agricultural areas along the way. After arriving at a waters edge we were helped onto a long tail boat for our journey to the floating market.

It was not at all what I expected. I don’t know why I thought that a popular tourist attraction such as this would not be jammed with tourists but none the less I was un prepared for what I saw when I arrived. It looked like a huge market by the water full of tourist souveners. I guess I thought it was more of a place where locals came to shop.

We were told we could walk around or pay more money for a paddle boat down the canal. My new friend from Hungary and I decided on the paddle boat.

Shooting tourists in a barrel is the expression that came to mind.

As we float down the canal we see that the vendors are selling their wares in either little boats like ours or small shops along the canal. As we pass by, four boats abreast which is about as wide as the canal itself, the vendors grab onto the sides of our boat and pull us in. They hold onto the side of our boat and show us their wares , trying to sell us everything from hats to buddhas to mangos. When they feel that they can’t squeeze any more ‘bhat’ (Thai dollars) from us, they push us off to the next vendor to grab hold of our boat and on and on it went for a half an hour. It was so horrible it was wonderful.

There were many vendors making and selling food in woks on their boats. It looked quite delicious but we were not brave (or stupid?) enough to try any of it. One man passed with a various assortment of meat of some kind all over the bow of his boat. No refrigeration, covered with flies, but welcome to Asia. It was probably just killed that morning so most likely fresh anyhow.

"Before we were to head back to Bangkok," says Moh our guide, "we just need to stop at a wood carving factory. "

“Oh yeah, right” I think and roll my eyes. Another one where they take you to a factory so you spend lots of money so they get their commission……Cynical me.

I was pleasantly surprised. It really was a wood carving factory. Yes of course they were selling things but it was really very interesting and the talent was amazing. These artists were carving teak wood (which I thought was an endangered wood??) from very tiny intricate work to huge statues. I was very impressed

The late afternoon was spent in my room relaxing. I was hoping to meet with some friends from home for dinner but they just called me and they both have terrible food poisoning from a seafood restaurant last night. They are travelling around the world and just came in from India so I was really looking forward to meeting with them. I hope that they get better soon to enjoy the rest of their journey.

Well off to Laos tomorrow. Will write more when I can get ‘hooked up’.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 04:02 AM
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BTW
My room at Legacy suites was $75 a night, not $35.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 05:07 AM
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Really looking forward to hearing about your volunteer work in LP, and impressed by your self-confidence. Have you trained as an English teacher, or are you given lesson plans etc? I'd like to know how this works!
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 06:59 AM
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Debbe - Jeane and I went to the floating market in 2006 and were also disappointed by how touristy it was. We were not harassed to buy things however. Everyone seems to stop at the woodcarving place afterward. Earlier this year after our India trip we made a special stop to the woodcarving place to order furniture for Jeane's office. It took about 6 months before they arrived in the USA, but each piece is exquisite.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 09:57 AM
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I consider the floating market one of the biggest tourist traps in Thailand.

Looking forward to your report on Laos!
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 03:13 PM
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Tarquin I will let you know how it goes when I get there. No I have not had any training as a teacher so hopefully will get some guidance....
Craig, I remember you telling us that you were stopping in Bangkok to have some furnature made. Yes it was amazing stuff. I took some pictures of pieces that I really liked to keep on file.

And yes, they certainly didnt hassle you to buy at the floating markets. They were all very pleasant and friendly and seemed to be having a good time in general. The only aggressive ones were those selling tiger balm and trying to put it on your face as you walked by.

I will move over to the Laos board now.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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ok, call me the total nut, but i love the floating market for what it is.... i ignor the vendors selling merchandise... i delight in watching the other tourists faces.... i eat the foods that my guide, usually tong, selects for me from the best vendors (its all delicious and freshly cooked). it is touristy but so are so many of the places one visits in SEA and indeed around the world... touristy is not a bad word, it is what all of us are engaged in---tourism....

i can't quite figure out however if it is the "real thailand" or not...??
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