Existing Member?

La Dolce Vita

Bangkok, Chiang Rai, and the beginning of Laos

THAILAND | Sunday, 9 August 2009 | Views [760] | Comments [2]


I have done so much since I last wrote…

My journey with Jim ended on a high note when we took an unbelievable cooking class at The Blue Elephant.  After visiting the market, where we learned about different foods used in Thai cuisine, we were brought to a demonstration room.  A chef at the fine restaurant showed us how to make red curry chicken with pineapple, before sending us to the room next door where we each had to emulate what we had just seen.  We plated our dishes and then returned to the demo room to watch the professional make spicy and sour prawn soup.  Again we tried to copy the dish.  The day continued with sir-fried beef with sweet basil and lastly Pad Thai.  When we finished all of the cooking, we were escorted to a private room where we sat with our fellow cooking class compadres.  The dishes we had each made sat in front of us and the moment of truth came when we tried the dishes we had made ourselves.  Amazingly, both Jim and my dishes tasted GREAT!  They were so good, that I questioned if the plates in front of me were in fact the ones I made, but the décor on each of them, ensured me that I had in fact cooked them!  I hope Jim and I can recreate some of the dishes for you when we get home. J  Thank you to Andres, Lindsay, and Juan for giving us the opportunity to take this amazing class!  Jim and I spent the rest of his time in Thailand taking in Khao San road, doing a little shopping, and sitting in a lot of traffic!

Once Jim returned home, I met up with Gena, a friend from highschool.  We travelled to Chiang Rai, a town in the very north of Thailand, known for excellent trekking.  Our first day there, we were unable to go on a trek, but had heard you could go to a pier and take a boat to visit several sights along the river.  We decided to head for the pier, and after being told it was a short walk away, we started on foot.  Several hours later, we were sweaty, dirty, and still had no clue where the pier was.  We asked so many people, and each got us a little closer.  When we finally could see the pier, we weren't too surprised to see that we were on the wrong side of the river.  Fortunately, we were able to get the attention of the one of the boat drivers and he crossed the river to pick us up.  After negotiating a fair price, he took us to the Buddha Temple Cave.  We got off the boat, saw a small cave, and headed inside.  After a few steps we heard a loud noise that had us jumping out of the cave.  We entered again and heard the noise again.  We were laughing hysterically when we realized that outside the cave was a cow that was mooing!  We headed back into the cave, but it was very small and dark, so we decided to keep walking around the area.  It was then that we saw the actual Buddha Temple cave, a giant cave, very different from the one we almost entered :)  The Temple was very beautiful.  It was filled with small kittens, and a few sweeping monks.  When were heading back to the boat, we decided to stop to see the cows that had terrified us before.  It was absolutely amazing because we saw a mother milking and later cleaning her calf. 

The next day, Gena and I went on amazing trek.  After an hour boat ride, we hopped on an elephant for a two hour journey.  Our guide pointed at some very tall mountains and told us we were going to the top.  It was hard to believe, but definitely true.  The view from the elephant was incredible, so green and lush.  I was also impressed because the path we took was small, steep, and rocky.  I never would have thought that a huge elephant could walk up the path.  But our 30 year-old elephant did so smoothly.  After some time, the guide asked if we would like to ride on the neck of the elephant (usually visitors ride on a bench placed on top of the elephant while the mahout sits on the neck).  I took full advantage of the opportunity.  At first, I was nervous I'd fall off, since I no longer has anything to hold onto, but once I got my placement right, the experience was incredible.  It's amazing how gracefully and evenly the elephant walks through every ditch, hill, rock, and river crossing.  He kept swinging his ears so that they wrapped around my legs.  Also, everytime he used his trunk to grab some plants, I could feel his chewing.  I loved it so so so much!  After about two hours, we reached the top of the mountain where members of the Lahu hilltribe live.    By then, it was pouring rain and we were invited in to eat lunch.  After seeing the beautiful handicrafts that the Lahu women made and hearing a pig being killed, we left by foot towards a waterfall.  The walk was wet, but so incredibly beautiful, like a bamboo rainforest.  When we reached the waterfall, Gena and I took a swim :)  We then headed to the village of the Akha hill tribe.  We toured a home (they are built out of bamboo which has to be rebuilt every few years because it is destroyed by termites), met a woman who was considered incredibly beautiful because of her very black teeth (caused by eating a certain nut) and then headed by truck back to Chiang Rai.  From there, we quickly hopped on a public bus to the Thailand/Laos border. 

The next morning, we began our journey into Laos.  I quickly learned that one must find the balance of trusting others while not get scammed.  Or maybe the true skill is to get scammed and not let it bother you :)   We made it across the border and eventually onto a slow boat.  The seats were certainly uncomfortable and the trip long (two days), but it's a cool opportunity to see the villages by the Meh Kong river and to meet many travellers from around the world.  The boat stopped at several villages to pick up new passengers.  At one stop, we heard the now familiar screaming of a pig before the villagers killed it, placed it in a basket, and brought it onboard.  I believe they were bringing it to sell to another village?  Regardless, the knife was handed to a small girl who later was holding the knife in one hand and  the hand of a younger child in the other.  As the villagers waved goodbye, an older male was smoking from a long pipe.  I think he was smoking opium, since many of the hilltribes grow and smoke this drug.  It truly is a fascinating and very different world.

Last night, we finally arrived in Luang Prabang, a city greatly influenced by French culture.  After our tuk tuk driver led us on an adventure trying to find the guesthouse we had been recommended, we finally made it.  This town is beautful, clean, and has a certain je ne sais quoi about it.  Gena and had a relaxing evening after several adventurous days and thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in an air conditioned room.  Today, we walked around the town, and visited soem beautiful monestaries.  The highlight was without a doubt speaking ot the many monks and novices who had a free day today (because its the weekend).  We went back and forth asking each other questions about our lives, our countries, our languages, our religions...  One monk was trying to learn French (he had received a French dictionary the night before) and so gena and I taught him a few basic words (bon jour, au revoir, etc.)  It was so finny because during this impromptu lesson, a French couple approached and the monk and the novice (one is a novice before becoming a monk) were able to practice their newly learned French!  What a wonderful and rare opportunity!  Well, there is so much more I am looking forward to doing in Laos before returning to Thailand on Saturday to begin my program.  I will keep writing to you anout my adventures. :)

a lot of love,


P.S. If any of you have any questions, please write a comment and I will see if I can answer them or if I can ask someone while I'm here for the answer :)



Querida Jessica, me encantan tus comentarios y fotos, ya tome algunas notas para mi proximo viaje. Que sigan tus aventuras, muchas gracias por compartirlas.Silvia

  Silvia Treves Aug 13, 2009 9:42 PM


Hi Jessica,

I am really enjoying reading your detailed descriptions of this fantastic trip. What a fabulous, and interesting journey - it seems very thoughtfully, and meticulously planned.Looking forward to the future updates - ENJOY!

Lots of love, Agnes and family

  Agnes Rosenfeld Aug 15, 2009 7:48 PM



Travel Answers about Thailand

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.