A Paint By Number Journey Thru Chiang Mai & Luang Prabang

I know, I know. This is beyond tardy.  It has taken me a year and a day to post about mine and Stephanie’s jaunt to the beautiful cities of Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang back in February, but I am finally getting around to doing it.  Holy moly, I can’t believe it’s been that long.  Shame on me!!!

This time, instead of doing my typical posty post about the entire vaca, what we ate, who we ate with and at what time, I’m going to chronicle my favorite moments of the trip. So buckle up peeps!

1. Our 16 Hour Train Ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Instead of flying directly to Chiang Mai, we flew into Bangkok and opted to indulge in the journey of getting to Chiang Mai.  And what reeks more of wanderlusting travel than the huff and puff of a locomotive train? We stocked up on snacks, including  an accidental choosing of PICKLED mango on Miss Stephanie Anne’s part, ordered a surprisingly delicious dinner on board, got our train bunks turned down by the train maid, tucked ourselves in with a good book (50 Shades of Grey anyone?), and then buckled ourselves into bed for the night.  At least I did in my coffin of a top bunk. We rolled into Chiang Mai bright and early the next morning.

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  2. Our guest house in Chiang Mai ~ Finlay’s Cottage.

Steph and I hadn’t booked a place for our first night in Chiang Mai, and since we were meeting Abby for a night we asked her to book us 1 night at Finlay’s Cottage, the place where she was staying.  We loved this place so much that we ended up cancelling our previous reservations and it ended up being our home base for our entire stay in Chiang Mai, both before and after Laos. We loved it that much! The man and woman who run the guest house are a couple of unlikely friends, but are somehow fantastically hilarious. The woman helped us book all our day trips, got us a great tuk tuk driver, made us delicious breakfasts every morning, woke us up to make sure we ate our breakfasts every morning, cancelled our prior reservations for us and made great sarcastic conversation with us when necessary.  The man is from Australia and just never returned, and the woman lived on Koh Phi Phi for 37 years as a masseuse, but when the tsunami hit she broke nearly all her bones and chose to relocate up north, and has been there ever since. They were top NOTCH!

Finlay's Cottage mommy

3. Thai Cooking Class With Beery.

I love cooking but it’s something that I just don’t really have the patience or timing for.  I like to think of myself as more of a “throw together whatever I have kinda chef” and it always works.  I’ve always wanted to take a cooking class in Thailand since I saw MayMay took one on her trip! I figured Steph and Abby were the perfect people to do this with since they are both chef masters.  We signed up for a wonderful cooking class at Asia Scenic Thai Cooking School and had a fabulously flamboyant instructor named Beery, who was just the cherry on top! It was boot camp in the most fun way possible.  We started with a trip to the local market, then went to the school’s garden to smell the herbs and plants native to Thai cuisine that we’d be cooking with, and then got down to cooking!  I made Pad See Ew (because it reminds me of Jessie), Kow Soi Curry and curry paste (the native curry to Chiang Mai which came recommended by MayMay), and Mango sticky rice.

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4. When I Discovered That Friendship Is Hoisting Your Friend Atop An Elephant.

We went on an all-day Mahout elephant trekking course through the jungle, atop the most gorgeous and friendly and massive animal in the world. We learned key commands to “drive” them, fed them endless amounts of sugar cane and bananas, struggled to hoist ourselves atop their massive bodies, struggled yet again to steer our still hormonal lady thru a jungle trek, squealed with glee whilst sliding down her trunk, and then took the most glorious bath in the world with her even though it was filled with piles of shit, I’m sure.  This is my favorite photo from the trip. I really made an ass out of myself, but at least I know who’s got me from all angles as I migrate through this world of ours.

Elephant ass

5. Taking This Photo For National Geographic While Sitting In Tiger Pee.

We didn’t really take it for National Geographic, but we might as well have.  We spent an afternoon at the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai posing with a 3 month old tiger, a 5 month old tiger, and then this full grown tiger. We even saw this guy snap at someone.  OPEN WIDE and guard your life!

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6. Getting Annoyed By Chinese Tourists While Trying to Observe the Long Neck Karan Tribe.

The Long Neck Karan tribe native to Chiang Mai is a bit of a circus detour, but I really wanted to see it since this tribe is the one thing that I’ve always remembered since going to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! as a child.  We went, it was awkward and fascinating, and then we got annoyed by the Chinese tourists that always come in loud like they own the place with zero respect.

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7. When Steph Walked Like An Ajumma Up The Massive Stairway to Wat Doi Suthep.

The greatest Wat (temple) in Chiang Mai is Wat Doi Suthep, and it’s located at the tippy top of a massive mountain.  To get there you have to take a tuk tuk, to a red jeep and then walk up the insane stairway.  Here is Steph getting back to her Korean roots en route to the top.

doi suthep

8. Riding In The Back Of A Pick Up Truck While Crossing The Laos Border.

We decided to take the slow boat journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang.  This consisted of a 7 hour minibus to the border, where our small group was greeted by a pick up truck, and we were instructed to hop into the bed of it and stand. Obediently we did so.  FEELIN LIKE A CHOLA.

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9. A Dramatic Reading Of 50 Shades of Grey In French In The Middle Of Nowhere, Laos.

We spent the night in creepy cabins in the middle of nowhere Laos as we awaited our boat ride along the Mekong the next morning.  Our fellow companions were a Swiss couple and our newly made travel companion, French lassie Audrey. Their common language was French, and having never heard of the epic 50 Shades of Grey before, our new friend decided to translate the novel for his lady.  It was oh so sexy.

10. The Sweetest Sendoff From Adorable Laotian Babies As We Set Off On The Mekong.

We woke up bright and early and were escorted to our private boat for our Mekong River cruise.  Our escort service couldn’t have been any more adorable if it tried.  Heart. Melt.

11. Our First Laotian Meal Of Various Flavors Of….Buffalo Jerky.

Steph, Audrey and I set out to try our first Laotian meal since arriving in Luang Prabang.  We turned down a sleepy road in the early-to-sleep city, and perused a menu of our selected restaurant.  There were so many oddly named items, so we took it upon ourselves to order the ones that stood out the most to us.  I believe mine was called “Day Meat Smashed Style”. Basically, we all got variously flavored versions of buffalo jerky.  Needless to say, we were not impressed and stuck to baguettes from the street food vendors for the remainder of our stay in Luang Prabang.

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12.  This Pleasant Lady And Her Amazing Baguettes.

This woman had such a pleasant aura about her, and call me a weirdo, but I loved watching her make her sandwiches. She was so calm, and her sandwiches were so amazing. They were massive and I scarfed them DOWN.  I always got her chicken, brie, tomato, avocado, lettuce and cucumber sandwich and boy did it satisfy.  I also loved that she was one of the only street food stands that had all of her food covered and away from the flies.  Sanitation!!!

sandwich lady

13. Meeting A 16 Year Old Monk Who Loves to Speak English With Foreigners.

We were making our way up to Wat Chom Si atop Pousi Hill just before sunset when we met this friendly monk, Bee.  He is 16 years old and was so sweet and friendly.  He told us about how he loves studying English and hopes to one day travel to America, and loves hanging out on that walk up to the top because so many foreigners come through and it gives him a chance to practice his English.  It was so refreshing to meet someone as young and eager as him to learn and practice, especially after working with Korean students who a lot of the time can care less about learning English. We exchanged information and are now Facebook friends! 🙂

bee monk lp

14. Taking This Glorious Photo Atop Pousi Hill.

Audrey was traveling by herself, and was a lovely addition to our stay in Luang Prabang.  Im so glad we got this awesome photo of the three of us!

pousihill girls

15. Going to Kuang Si Waterfall And Doing A Boob Flop Rope Jump.

We made the journey out to Kuang Si Waterfall with Audrey and 5 Germans that we met.  It was a gorgeous hike in, and once there we got to swim in the springs, and if we wanted, jump from the rope hanging from the tree.  I of course wanted to do it, but was deathly scared once I got up onto the tree.  It was SO slippery, and I was trembling as I used the wooden stick to grab the swinging rope to clutch between my shaking hands. I was a ball of nerves!  Klutzy McKlutz over here.  Well, I didn’t hold high enough on the rope, and when I swung I barely swung and BOOB FLOPPED flat into the water so hard that my top came off under water.  FAIL. But awesome.  This is the face I made upon emerging and confirming my breasts were still in tact.

boobflopface

16. Observing A Man In a Diaper Walk Down The Street Carrying A Machete.

As the heading says, a man with deathly leather colored skin traipsed down the street wearing nothing but a sheet-like diaper, while carrying nothing but a machete.  I felt safe.

macheteman lp

17. Temple Hopping And Bicycle Riding.

One thing I always try to do while traveling is spend a day with a map in hand and my tuchous on a bicycle seat.  It’s so whimsical and I think the best way to see a city.  Luang Prabang is probably one of the best cities to do this in because it’s so small and quaint.  So, we spent a day temple hopping, monk spotting and drink sipping on our bikes, and it was a beautiful, hot and sweaty day!

biking lp

18. Bargaining My Face Off At The Most Colorful Night Market I’ve Ever Been To.

I LOVE night marketing while I travel, and the market in Luang Prabang exceeded my expectations.  It was by far my favorite night market I’ve ever been to.  The colors were so bright everywhere I turned, and the handmade items being sold were so fun and vibrant and unique.  I bargained like it was my job and ended up snagging a pretty awesome travel bag for a sweet deal.  I love this photo I took, and every time I look at it I just want to pop back there!

lp night market

19. Meeting New Friends At The All Vegetarian Buffet At The Night Market.

While Instagramming, Steph stumbled upon a guy’s posting of this all vegetarian buffet just off of the night market.  There was a massive spread of food that you put on a plate and then a guy heated it all up for you in a wok.  It was for something outrageous like $5, and was so delicious! We pulled up a seat with everyone else and nommed down on our food. We met some fascinating friends from France, Argentina and Mauritius that we spent the rest of our last evening with.  It’s moments like this when I realize why I love traveling.

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20. Sitting In The Back Of Our Second Pick Up Truck Crossing The Thailand Border.

We did it once, and we did it twice.  Southeast Asia seems to follow Mexico’s lead when it comes to border crossing, because I’ve never felt more illegal in my life.  Sometimes it feels good to live life on the edge.  At least we had a stamp in our passeporto.

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21. Stumbling Upon This Awesome Art Shop In Chiang Mai.

On our last day in Chiang Mai, we randomly stumbled into this art studio/shop filled with a man’s artwork strewn about with every life and travel quote imaginable.  We spent a wild amount of time wandering and finding the perfect purchases for ourselves and our parents.  We both chose pieces for our parents with quotes about our own need to wander the world, and how no matter where we are they’re always in our hearts.

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22.  These Young Boys Getting Massages In Bangkok.

Because they were such babies and they looked so funny and adorable getting a group massage.  I couldn’t help myself.  They were 18 years old.  BABIES!

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23. These Gangnam Style Sandals On Khaosan Rd.

Well, because there would be no better send off back to Koko than to see Psy displayed on some footwear.

gangnamstyle sandals

Well, there you have it.  Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang in a somewhat brief pictoral nutshell.  I hope you enjoyed despite my tardiness! Better late than never!!

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