We got up at about 4:45am to be ready to go back down to our long boat at 5:00am. We had another 10-11 hours to travel up river before we got to the landing. Driving up the river that early in the morning was so peaceful, most people were asleep except Giuseppe and I. We sat at the same table and talked, watched the sun come up, watched the river and listened to the sound of the boat and the water. There was a very pleasant light breeze. It really was an amazing time. Loved the whole boat ride even though it was very long. We stopped at a landing that was about a 20 minute drive from the Friendship Bridge that crosses the river between Laos and Thailand. After a short drive to our hotel in Chang Khong, we checked in, showered, and got ready for dinner and a going away party because two of our tour group were leaving the trip from Chang Mai. Let’s just say, it was a pretty rockin party. 😮
Between Chang Khong and Chang Mai, there is a new(er) temple called the White Temple. You can probably guess why it’s called that. We stopped there for about 45 minutes to walk around. It is this incredibly ornate, white temple that has small rectangular pieces of mirror glass pushed into the white finish of the building. It’s incredible.
Chang Mai is a pretty nice city. It was a bitter-sweet city and I say that only because it was the last city that we were staying in, the trip was coming to an end, friends newer and older from the trip were leaving, and basically this whole amazing time was coming to an end… so why would this be an awesome city? It was a bitter sweet city.
We stayed there about a day and a half and one night. I wasn’t feeling well but went to a Thai cooking class regardless. At the cooking class, we learned to make green curry, stir-fry chicken with cashews (tofu for the vegetarians), pad Thai, and spring rolls. Mine came out alright. The pad thai was not as tasty as I would have liked, and there was too much to eat in one sitting.
Back at the hotel around 6:15, I laid down for a nap hoping that would push away the ill feeling. The group was going to meet at 7:30-ish for a going away party. Giuseppe and Jules were leaving the group the next day and so we wouldn’t be a complete group when the trip fully ended back in Bangkok. I had set my alarm but when it went off, I thought heck no, I am not ready for this. So I shut it off expecting to just sleep through the going away party. I’m not real a party-er anyway. I thought a long nights sleep would be just the thing. Well, my group was worrying about me and so the tour leader came and knocked on my door urging me to come join the group on its last full night. It wasn’t much of a party but it was just nice to be together with the group. We went to a nearby restaurant for a drink and just chilled out for a little while.
Giuseppe and I met for breakfast and then went for a little walk into the older part of the city that is surrounded by a moat-type pond and used to have brick walls. The corners of the city square are still there and look really ancient but cool. After Giuseppe left, I wrote on my blog a while, went for lunch with some of my tour mates, then wandered around for a bit on my own until it was time to get back and head to our last overnight train.
This overnight train was quite different from the others in that initially, there were no beds set up. There are only sets of two seats that face each other that convert to a lower bed and an upper bed that drops down from above sort of like the overhead luggage in an airplane. The beds were set up at about 7 or 8pm. I stayed up for a while writing in my journal and gluing remnants of places visited (tickets, cards, foreign currency, etc) into it. I like how it’s turning out.
November 12th – Last day of the trip
Apparently the train engine broke down sometime during the night and so we were stopped for an hour and a half. So we arrived in Bangkok at about 7:30-8 instead of 6am. Breakfast at a cafe right near the Bangkok Center Hotel where our tour started. Not much else noteworthy about that day. We did go out for a group dinner which was nice and then danced for a while…
I miss my spring rolls! 😦
Here’s the map of (most) of the places we stopped in southeast Asia.