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Tasha’s Travel Diary

Monday, 21 Aug 2006

Location: Luang Prabang, Laos

MapSpent the past two day travelling into Loas from Chang Khong, on a luxurious river cruiser?!? Quite an experience! Just like the Thai's, the Loations (name decided by a small group of us on the boat) are very happy to cram as many tourists into which ever mode of transport is being used, at the time as possible. A boat that is supposed to cater for 30 people easily had 70 people on it, and to add insult to injury, the seats were wooded and the journey, 6 hours. Although this sounds really horrible, bar the numb bum I really enjoyed the trip - very mellow! We played games sang songs and socked in the scenery. The second leg of the journey was much better as Claire got to the boat very early the next morning and bagsied us VIP seats. We are now in Loas, experiencing another culture. The time has really flown by and Claire leaves tomorrow - Boohoo! Think that I'm gonna hang out in Loas for a while, go to Vang Vieng, before flying back to Bangkok.

The cookery courses in Chang Mai was like so many things in Thailand - not quite as expected. Things are sometimes worse, but very often they are better. The cookery was definitely the latter. The school that we ended up in wasn't the one on the brochure, and our guide turned out to be a ladyboy. I thought to myself you have got to be kidding. How are you supposed to get vegetable advise from a bloke in a short skirt and heals!? Anyways we proceeded to follow 'Wawah' around the markets. Claire and I seemed to be the only two people alive in our group, as we where asking loads of questions. Well one question over and over - 'whats that?' 'Whats that?'The class was really good fun and I kinda got used to the bloke in a dress. At lunch Wawah came over to us and we got chatting, and I was very surprised to find that he had a degree in Business and English and had worked as tour guide, a model and a chef. I couldn't help but wonder how he dressed at uni?

Trekking on the other hand was one of those things that wasn't as expected - it was much worse! The day was supposed to consist of an elephant ride, a visit to a Hmong village, one of the many Karen tribes, and river rafting. Well I wasn't that keen on the idea of elephant riding, but after chatting to a few people who said that it was good and that the elephants were treated ok, thought that I may as well. We we turned up to the camp in the morn, and we were greeted by a baby elephant, tied on a tiny chain, that looked as if it was going mental, as it moved back and forth trying to walk. I took one look, and was like there is no way I'm gonna ride one of the elephants. I asked the man why it was chained up on such a short chain, with no food or shelter, and he gave me some story about it getting loose and destroying the farms. Then he proceeded to go on that the older ones weren't chained cos they were more tame. (This turned out to be a lie). I asked the man where they baby's mother was and he said in another camp. Which made no sense to me, I just thought that the whole thing was disgusting. I Into Loas on a very Slow Boat

just couldn't believe the amount of people that seemed completely unaffected by what they saw. To the point that they would play with, and photograph a clearly distressed animal?????

Bar that I really liked Chang Mai, its a lot more chilled out than Bangkok, and a bit cooler. The night markets were also really lovely and we did spend a few evenings looking around them. We came across this one stall with these absolutely amazing pictures on it. When Claire and I stopped to look at the pictures, one of the artists got out his brushes and stared going over some of the black on one of them. So we thought that it must have been some kind of scam, and there was no way that they could have drawn the pictures because they were perfect. However there was an Aussie bloke on the stall that must have heard our sceptic comments, and came over to us and explained how the pics were real, and how he was so impressed by them that he he had decided to stay in Chang Mai to get taught the technique. Once I believed him, I started to look at the pictures more, and was so impressed that I stuck around a got a few lessons. My teachers was one of the best, the guy who drew the picture of the grandson and grandad - absolutely amazing!