Out last few days in Chiang Mai were great. Steph and I rented a motorbike and drove up the nearby mountain, stopping at temples and walking through cute local villages as we went. It was a truly magical day, especially when it ended at a Cat Cafe: literally a coffee shop with 15 or so cats running around freely to play with.

From Chiang Mai we ventured into Luang Prabang, Laos via slowboat. Geographically, it didn’t make too much sense, but it was cheap, fun, and we got some beautiful scenery! It started with a bus ride to Chaing Rai to visit the weird and unusual White Temple, then to Chiang Khong (the Thailand/Laos border) to spend the night. Along the way, we met 2 Danish travelers who we quickly befriended and traveled with for the following week or so. The slowboat took 2 full days, but luckily we had great weather and good company! On arrival in Luang Prabang, we spent a few days enjoying the seemingly endless night market, exploring the Kuang Si Waterfalls, and believe it or not – bowling! It’s apparently the thing to do after all the bars close at 11:30. On a more somber note, I’d like to give a shout out to the kitten we found wandering alone without its mother way too young. We fed her a can of tuna, gave her some love, and sent her on her way. Unfortunately, we saw her the next day dead in the road. So rest in peace to the beautiful baby kitten who stole out hearts. I loved Lao. I’m very disappointed I didn’t have more time there, and would love to have explored more of the countryside. It was beautiful and unlike Thailand and Vietnam, it was a colorful and wonderful country and I hope to go back some day.

 
Steph and I separated from Danielle after this. We went off to Vietnam, where we spent some time in Hanoi venturing into temples, museums, the Hao Lo Prison, and enjoying yummy food. We then spent 3 days on a HaLong Bay cruise with other tourists. The first day we jumped from the top of the boat into the bay, and although we aren’t really drinkers, enjoyed the “free” beer provided to us from 8-10pm with some new Danish friends we made. Apparently, that’s where all the fun people are from, the next day, we woke early to kayak the bay, trekked 2 hours up a mountain on Cat Ba Island, and swam on from the beach on “Monkey Island”. We stayed clear of the monkeys this time though!
 
So far, I love Vietnam. It is chaotic, real, full of history, and the people are amazing. This evening i approached a woman selling seafood on the street. I picked out my (still living) food, and she cooked it in a small pot right there on the road. Her other customers watched as I perfectly broke open the crab and with my bare hands, worked out and devoured every bit of meat inside. While none of us spoke, it was a great moment for me in which I really felt apart of something. Next on the agenda is Mai Chau, Vietnam for one night in a village. The more popular tour is to Sapa, but we wanted to do something a little less crowded. Tomorrow we take an early morning bus ride on the local, public bus. After a night there, it’s back to Hanoi, where we fly to Hoi An for the full moon lantern festival, and some time at the beach! We play to stay there for the last 6 days of our time together, to enjoy it and relax rather then nonstop moving. We are ready to relax a bit
 

One more kitten shout out. The news from home is that my poor baby Poa has a bladder infection and was in the emergency vet all night :(. He returns home today and they say he will be fine, but nonetheless I am really upset that I am not there with him.

 
In the next day or two I will be posting a blog about my reflections so far, what I think the reality of traveling South East Asia is, and what I would have done differently it. It’s not meant to be offensive to other travelers, but it’s my true feelings. Once I am officially done sorting all of those feelings out, it will be posted.
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Motorbiking! The roads weren’t nearly as scary as expected – but it’s okay, Mom! We wore helmets!
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The slowboat to Luang Prabang on the polluted Mekong River.

 
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Not a bad view to be stuck with for 2 days!

 
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Inside a waterfall

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At 6am every morning, the monks participate in the Alms Giving Ceremony, where the locals all offer them home cooked meals. It is all that the monks eat.

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Night Market life

 
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blogger-image-1723030174                                                                                   Ha Long Bay
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                                                   Fish, turtles, eels, frogs. Yum. Hanoi, Vietnam.

 
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Hoa Lo Prison