Thursday, March 8, 2012


We're safely home after a wonderful trip. Initially I started the blog as a means of keeping the girls up to date with where we were and what we were doing. It also served to remind us of what we had done that we had forgotten. Now we're home we can enjoy the trip again by reading our blog.

We hope that those of you reading it have felt that you too have shared in our adventure. Graham said a lovely thing - when I told him that we had not sent him a post card he said that he got a post card from us every day by our blog. Thank you Graham.

Already we are planning our next adventure.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The big finish - part 2

Our last day. I spent the morning relaxing in and around the pool. It was just glorious.

John went exploring on the monorail.

For some reason we had been unable to check in online for our return flight to London. This morning John went to City Air Terminal at K.L. Sentral (no, I haven't misspelt it!). Problem solved and we now have seats more or less where we wanted them. Apparently we can check our luggage in there before we get the train to the airport. That's great 'cos steamer trunk is really heavy. We don't know if we can check cases right through to Glasgow but we'll ask.

In the afternoon we went to a couple of the many shopping malls but it was rather disappointing. It was either cheap rubbish, tiny sizes or prices equal to, or more than, home.

Back to the hotel early to pack and do the blog.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The big finish - part 1

K.L. is quite unlike anywhere else we've been on this trip. Its size is bigger, buildings are higher (and a lot more of them) and the economy is obviously very buoyant.

We took an open top bus tour of the city this morning - 3 hours to do the circuit. It was a good idea as it gave us a sense of what was where. Although the central area is not that large it is quite hilly and surprisingly well wooded so that you get very few distant views and therefore no sense of wider scale. On parts of the journey it was all very reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis with concentrations of high rise buildings divided by elevated roadways.

Despite all the new buildings there are still chunks of greenery and areas of older buildings.

We then went back to Chinatown.

After 3 hours in the sun on an open-top bus beers were urgently required. We then wandered through the huge market and bought the ultimate present. Let's hope the recipient agrees with us. After spotting it we just kept grinning. We were so delighted with ourselves.

We then headed off to Central market. The weather deteriorated. Black clouds loomed and we had a tremendous downpour accompanied by a couple of splendid claps of thunder. We took shelter in a large open-sided marquee at which some sort of event was about to take place. This proved to be a badly organised break-dancing competition. We endured it long enough for the rain to ease before exploring the wonders of Central market.

Cocktail hour was approaching so we just took a taxi back to the hotel..

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Wonderful. Club lounge. Have so missed a glass of wine.

Completing the circle.

Not impressed with either Vientiane or the Vansana hotel. Dinner in the hotel not much cop. We should have clocked that when the reception staff seemed surprised we planned to eat in the hotel. That was a clue! They forgot about our airport transfer this morning and their credit card machine had broken down.

Short Air Asia flight to K.L. was just 2.5 hours and started with our final view of the Mekong. It was obscured somewhat by an intense heat haze but still visible.. Air Asia is a bit like Ryanair but with rice. Big difference is the glamorous female cabin attendants. They also don't conclude their flights with the crass fanfare so beloved by Ryanair.

Bus to train station (in the process passing the F1 track at Sepang - Graham please note), train to city centre and taxi to hotel. Easy. In room at 3.30pm. K.L. is 8 hours ahead of U.K. as opposed to Laos 7 hours.

Cath if you wished you were with us for the elephant ride you would wish you were at this hotel with us too. . It's just like the Traders in Hong Kong. Check in at the club lounge, complimentary tea, coffee and soft drinks all day and cocktails from 5.30 till 7.30. It's only 4.30 now so that will have to wait until tomorrow's blog.

In the main we have chosen small hotels but this is huge.

I went down to take a few photos and then of course I couldn't remember our room number. I thought it might be 1924 so rang their bell. Fortunately nobody was in. I then decided to eat humble pie and go back to the club lounge to ask. It's 1928. I wont forget again.

Checked out the pool. Will maybe have a swim on Monday.We treated ourselves to this rather grand hotel for our last 3 nights so I want to make the most of it.

John is still feeling a little delicate so will be careful where we have dinner tonight.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The inevitable

It  was bound to happen. I'm just surprised it didn't happen sooner. John has the runs. He has man runs! Good old immodium to the rescue. Should really be called commodium!

Made the short flight to Vientiane. It was all of half an hour. We had contemplated doing it by bus but decided we wanted a wee while in Vientiane. Given John's delicate state 9 hours on rickety roads in a vehicle of uncertain mechanical condition would not have been a good idea.  30 mins on a brand new airbus wins hands down. It amused us that the baggage "carousel" at Vientiane appeared to be the old Stornoway one recycled.

It has been a while since I mentioned lookalikes. Today's specimens were fellow passengers on the flight and included a man obviously going to a Ho Chi Minh lookalikes pageant, (this is presumably the local version of an Elvis convention), and Julian Assange. In Julian's case I know he's trying to avoid going to Sweden but lurking in Laos seems a bit extreme!

John didn't feel like going anywhere this afternoon so I was allowed out to play on my own! I couldn't decide whether to have a swim and sit by the pool or to go walkabout. It seems a pity not to see a little of the capital of Laos so I did the walky thing. It's a reflection of John's condition that he has not taken a single photograph today.

It will be dinner in the hotel for me and an early night.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Howdah you do?

We have had THE MOST AWESOME MORNING! Up early to go ride an elephant. We went half an hour up into the hills to the elephants' base station. After my two previous experiences with elephants I was more than a smidgeon wary but here they had proper wooden howdahs with a safety bar in front. All was well I thought but it turned out that we had got the disobedient one of the troupe. She did settle down though. We lumbered through the undergrowth as one of a group of 6 elephants. After about 15 minutes we were given the chance to actually ride the elephant bareback and "drive" it. I was way too much of a woose but John was up for it. He rode it for the last 45 mins back to the base station. Going on the flat was easy but there wasn't much of that. On the other hand gradients were more than a little hairy. Would our insurance cover us if John fell off? No time to consult policy. He was like a wee boy in a sweetie shop. The elephant hide was quite coarse and John was anxious that he would get a rash from the chafing - a clear case of pachyderm-atitis!

When we got back to the base station we were invited to give our elephants some sugar cane as a treat. By that time my fear had gone. Hong Khun is a real gentle giant.

I know the elephants are tame and this is done several times a day by loads of people but for John and I it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. It really felt as if we were thrashing through the undergrowth in the wilds. The scenery was spectacular. I took loads of video. I think we'll put it all on one dvd so that we can relive it again and again.

Lunch time was spent reflecting on our morning. After lunch we bit the bullet and bought a steamer trunk! Don't think it's quite as cavernous as Donnie and Cath's but it was bought with our next adventure in mind. We now have matruschka luggage. The stripy holdall is flat inside a new medium sized holdall which is inside the steamer trunk! We haven't actually bought that much but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

To cap a truly wonderful day we both went for a massage. It surely will be down to earth with a bump when we get home. Now we're having a drink and contemplating where to have dinner. Decisions. Decisions. Life is so tough!