It’s 7.32pm on a Monday and I’m somewhere between Chang Kong and the border of Laos. We’ve been driving for almost 5 hours north of leafy Chaing Mai, I’m suffering with a stinking cold and am in desperate need of a shower. It might sound like it but I’m not complaining.
My Thailand to Vietnam tour started about 3 days ago and between then and now I’ve visited the 2 main cities of Thailand, Bangkok and Chaing Mai, explored the streets of probably the biggest Chinatown outside of China, learnt to make green curry, pad Thai and sticky mango rice from scratch and what I think is one of the best performances on stage, the Ladyboy Caberet at the fantastic Chang Mai night market.
Joining the tour with fifteen strangers was a little daunting at first, but everyone’s seems to have found their place and the awkward small talk has been quickly replaced by laughter and reassuring pats on the back.
Day 1 started with the group meeting in a surprisingly nice hotel with our host a coy Cambodian tour guide, who we’ve found has a good sarcastic sense of humour underneath the calm exterior. After all the paperwork was cleared and small talk exchanged we headed out to a nearby locally run restaurant. Like so many restaurants in this part of the world, the menu comes with about 50 pages of options and badly taken photos of some or all of the dishes listed. At times you wish you only have your imagination to conjure up visuals of the food!
What’s new to say about Thai food, well not much really. It’s delicious and fresh and there is something for everyone. Once you’ve ordered from about 300 options, the food arrives as soon as it’s been cooked, rather timed to arrive together with the rest of the table. Often your meal may arrive after someone next to you has finished and falling into a food coma or recovering from the spice
Shortly we board a family run boat and travel across the Mykong river into Laos. A country that was hit hard when the communists took power in the 1970s, is made up of about 6 million people, it’s refreshingly calmer than the bustle and clang of Thailand. Can’t wait to see more.