Sabaidee – Luang Prabang, Laos

The last four days of our mini tour of southeast Asia were spent in Luang Prabang.  The heart of this former French colony city is settled in between the Mekong  and Nam Khan rivers, and has a more traditional feel to it, mixed with some of its foreign European architecture.  All that being said, we didn’t really have a reason to go to Laos, other than it sounded like a cool place to go.  Since we were so close, why not?  We stayed at the lovely Le Sen Boutique Hotel and utilized their free shuttle into the center of town.  While exploring the different restaurants and shops down the main drag, we luckily stumbled upon Tamarind.  On most nights a reservation is required, but after a quick agreement to eat within one and a half hours they let us sit down.  This was an easy agreement for Chris and I, as we are usually in and out of a restaurant within 30-45 minutes, depending on how long it takes the chef to make the food.

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Land of the Free – Chiang Mai, Thailand

THAILAND!  My favorite part of our three stop tour of southeast Asia.  When we decided to take this trip, Thailand was my added must have.  I told Chris, I would begrudgingly go to Myanmar if we could stop in Thailand for at least a few days.  Chris and our good friend Jeff had already traveled through Thailand previously, before they knew me, and I understood that it wasn’t high on his travel list.  Thankfully, he agreed!

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Myanmar Round 2: Inle Lake and Mandalay

The second portion of our trip started out much as the others had, at a very small airport.  I want to take a minute to describe these airports, because they are definitely a different experience.  They should really be described as large houses.  They are very small and have little to no actual gates in them, it’s more of just an open space.  My favorite part is that when you check in, they place a sticker on your shirt.  This is how they identify which westerners go to which plane.  From there you walk around the corner to the only security line,  where you walk through a metal detector and proceed into said open space, filled with rows and rows of seats.  Before each flight departs someone makes an announcement, which is hard to hear and then they proceed to walk around the room, motioning to anyone wearing the correctly colored sticker. It’s a fairly basic concept, but it actually works quite well.  We were never left behind! 😉  They also never lost our bags, so they are better than Thai Airways!

We had our hotel set up a taxi ahead of time, so were able to walk straight to the car when we arrived,  I should say that getting a taxi at every airport we went through was very easy.  You must pre-purchase your tickets at the taxi stand inside the airports, but its all very easy.  From the airport to Nyaungshwe is a good hours worth of driving, but the views are spectacular.  Everything is green, and lush, especially after being in Bagan, which is almost the opposite.  There is really just one major road that goes into town, and it only has two lanes, one in each direction.  Depending on the time of day, you can see a variety of vehicles and people heading in to, or out of town.   My favorite is a little hard to explain.  It would be like taking  the front of a tractor and attaching it to the bed of a pick-up truck.  The driver sits on the tractor seat, but instead of it having big back tires, its the truck bed instead.  They are very slow, bouncy and they make a ton of noise.  The noise is only ideal when riding a bike near them, because you can get out of the way in plenty of time.  Sadly, I can’t find the picture that we took of it, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was strange.

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