GLOBE TREKKER : NORTHERN THAILAND AND LAOS
Located in the heart of South East Asia, Thailand's bustling cities and
heavenly beaches continue to attract more and more visitors every year. This
progressive, fiercely independent, country provides a stark contrast to
Also Buddhist, it has been under communist rule for the last 30 years and
continues to offer a unique glimpse of an old South East
Traveler Ian Wright begins his journey in the chaos of Thailand's capital Bangkok. Traveling north through Surin he makes
his way to Chiang Mai from where here embarks on a three day trek. He then
takes a boat along the Mekhong River to Lauang Prabang, the capital of Laos. He ends
his journey celebrating the full moon festival in Vientiane.
Ian Wrightís journey begins in the densely
populated capital, Bangkok. He finds cheap accommodation on Khao San Road and visits one of the
many fashion shops in the vicinity.
Ian discovers the popular art of Thai
Boxing, and endeavours to try out his new found skills. Finding out that most
boys begin learning this art from the age of eleven, he wisely leaves it to the
professionals, and watches one of the dozen fights held each week.
Ian wright making new friends
Early in the
morning, Ian heads to Damnoen Saduak
floating market to sample some of the local cuisine and to
haggle with the Thai women in their wooden canoes, selling their fruit and
vegetables. Later that day he heads to the biggest and oldest temple in Bangkok, where Ian views
the stunning 150 feet long reclining Buddha. He also visits Patpong, the
infamous red light district in Bangkok,
and even though it only covers two streets it makes a disturbing impact.
From Bangkok, Ian heads east
to Surin, making a
brief stop at the ancient Khmer ruins.
Thousands of people flock to Surin annually to participate in the elephant
round-up, which celebrates the strength of the elephant. This amazing event
includes a tug of war with one elephant pitted against one hundred strong
menÖand Ian. Even with Ianís help, the men donít stand a chance against the
elephantís superior might.
Continuing North, Ian takes a train to Chiang Mai, stopping en route at Lopburi,for
the annual monkey festival. Arriving in Chiang Mai, which lies in the mountains
of Northern Thailand, Ian embarks on a three
day trek towards the Burmese border, where he meets more tourists than hill
tribes, stays afloat on a raft in the rapids, rides an elephant through the
jungle and tries to avoid the lethal sting of the giant centipede.
Ian heads north east to Chiang Khong on the
which borders Laos.
He takes the boat to Luang Prabang,
the ancient capital of Laos
and experiences village life and cuisine at the small village of Pakbeng.
In Luang Prabang, Ian, now fed up with
eating rice, indulges himself with French bread and croissants and discovers
more about the French influence in Laos, which was colonised a hundred
years ago. Hiring a bicycle, Ian stops off to watch the villagers produce
paper, for which Laos is
famous, and cools off in the Taat Sae Falls.
From Luang Prabang, Ian travels south east
to Phonsavan in Central Laos and meets the Mines Advisory Group. This
area was devastated by two million tons of bombs, dropped by American war
planes during the Vietnam war. Ian sees the local
people being educated on the dangers of shrapnel and bombs and learns that many
houses have been constructed from war junk.
Ianís final flight is to Vientiane,
the capital of Laos located
on the border with Thailand.
Here Ian joins up with Ammata, an ex London
club-goer who returned to Laos
to become a monk. Ian enjoys a steam and herbal massage at Wat Sok Pa Luang temple and then
celebrates with the Full Moon Festival at the end of his incredible journey.