Bangkok, Cambodia and Laos
14.07.2012 - 15.07.2012
Our final morning in Laos we went to the COPE visitor centre, who are a not for profit organization providing assistance and artificial limbs to people who have been injured due to unexploded bombs, etc left behind from the Vietnam war. The centre was really well done and we watched a documentary on the efforts to remove the hundreds of thousands of bombs and explosives from a large proportion of Laos. At the centre we also got to talk to one of the victims, who was telling us about when Hilary Clinton came and visited last week and he got to meet her.
Because time was running short, we then did a whirlwind tour of a couple of the main sights of Vientiane, namely the victory gate and the golden stupa (Pha That Luang).
Following lunch we talked our guide into squeezing in a flying visit of Buddha Park before crossing the border. We had 15 mins to explore and take photos of the park full of Buddha statues and monuments, so it was like a race to see every corner. I did manage to find time to climb to the top of one of the monuments, which turned out to be very steep and narrow stairs up the top, and probably required a little more forethought before racing up them.m coming down was a little tricky!
Crossing the border into Thailand, we had a little bit of time to kill at the train station. So we grabbed a couple of beers and started playing cards, only to have the police come over and tell us to stop with the cards as they were concerned we might be gambling. Drinking the long neck beers in public however was perfectly acceptable behavior.
The overnight train we had more beers and were allowed to play cards this time. Climbing into my top bunk on the train that bore similarities to what a coffin might look like which was a bit creepy (especially the photos I took which resemble an open casket which I will not post on here for obvious reasons), I attempted to sleep, with some success, and without rolling out of the bunk which felt very likely at some points through the night.
Arrival in Bangkok we shared our last breakfast as a group, before saying farewell and going off in different directions. Kathryn and I did a flying visit of the Grand Palace to see the emerald Buddha that the Thai's moved from Laos, and took time out for another massage before having a hot shower in the hotel room we rented for the day (necessary so we could shower after the overnight train and before hopping on our flights, otherwise the poor soul who got to sit next to me on the flight home would have more to deal with than my smelly shoes) and heading to the airport.
So that's pretty much it for this adventure. I will sign off though with a shout out to our group for this tour and our awesome CEO Bun (@BunYongRoeurn on twitter), who all made me laugh every day and made the experience so much more enjoyable, and I hope we cross paths again some time in the future.
PS - final photos will follow later once I have a better internet connection.