Soi 81, Bangkok

Soi 81, Bangkok

Join Jill, as she gives us a bird-eye account of the life of people on Soi 81, in Bangkok City.

Jill's Scene

When I look out my window on to my street in my home town, more often than not, it’s empty of traffic and people. And now, as I’m typing, apart from the tap of my fingers on the keyboard, the only sounds are bird song, Tui mainly, and the quiet rustle of the trees in the southerly breeze.  Often I can hear the sea, and sometimes our neighbour’s lawnmower. But not today – it was raining earlier.

In Bangkok there’s always traffic, always noise. You get that in a city of 14,000,000. Love it or hate it, Bangkok teams with life. My very favourite place is Soi 81 on Sukhumvit Road. It’s near the On Nut BTS – the Sky Train. It’s a perfectly average, ordinary street. And now, after three, no, make that four visits in three years, it feels like home.

We favour a particular Guest House. They…

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Food, glorious Laos food

Food, glorious Laos food

Check out this wonderful post by Jill, about food and meals in Laos. Wonderfully written, and some great photography of the mouth-water delights she encountered.

Jill's Scene

There’s a small, unassuming restaurant along Kounxoau Road in Luang Prabang that’s my favourite place to eat in Laos. We discovered it one cold, wet evening after a day out and about in the rain. John had been biking. Ben and I’d been less adventorous, some might say soft by comparison. We sheltered in the Guest House until the rain eased to showers before venturing out, even so coats and brollies were required.

Rain on the Mekong, at Luang Prabang Rain on the Mekong

We all wanted something warming and homely for dinner that night and this small family run restaurant met the bill. Sadly, I don’t know it’s name. There was no sign. That large white sign to the right in the photo is for real-estate. I hope this restaurant isn’t for sale because for us it represents everything good about Lao food.

Our favourite restaurant in Luang Prabang and all of Laos. My favourite restaurant in Luang Prabang and all of Laos

The service here…

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Pak Beng gets a second chance 

Pak Beng gets a second chance 

Join Jill on the start of a nightmare bus journey which soon gets forgotten about when she arrives at one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

Jill's Scene

Pak Beng, a small town on the banks of the Mekong, in Northern Western Laos, did not make a good first impression. We traveled there from Luang Namtha, via Oudamxay, to catch the slow boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. It marked the beginning of our return home.

In the back of the tuk tuk, on our way from the bus station to our guest house, I looked across at John. His face was still very pale. What on earth are we doing here, I wondered to myself.

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A walk in the jungle

A walk in the jungle

Take a walk in the jungle with Jill, after, that is, you discover what she finds could be on her supplies list.

Jill's Scene

All good trekkers know, no matter how brief the trek and ours was only a few hours long, supplies are essential. So we began the day with a visit to the  Luanga Namtha morning market.

Any special food requirements, Sing, our guide, asked.  We’ll try anything I said. In all the excitement I forgot about my recent tummy issues. Until I found him studying the fresh meat section!

No, Sing. I’m not killing it and I won’t be plucking it, either.  Sing, move away from that stall.

Poultry for sale Fresh means fresh!

And I’m not eating that either!

Dried frog at Luang Namtha morning market Dried frog is a delicacy – apparently

This is more like it.

Yummy taro Deep fried taro

Yes, fresh veggies and fruit!

Luang Namtha morning market Plenty of vegetables and fruit to choose from

Supplies obtained, Sing happy and me relieved, we’re ready to tackle our walk in the jungle.

Luang Namtha is close to the Nam Ha National Protection…

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Luang Namtha

Luang Namtha

More from Jill on her trip in Northern Laos. You’ll be amazed by what hangs from the rails on the bus!

Jill's Scene

When I stepped onto the local bus from Oudamxay to Luang Namtha in Northern Laos it looked full. I gesticulated my question and several of my fellow passengers smiled back at me and pointed out the last two empty seats.

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Oudamxay

Oudamxay

Join Jill in Oudamxay, Northern Laos where she takes a fascinating look into Laos city life.

Jill's Scene

Oudamxay, in Northern Laos, was never on my must visit list when it came to planning our trip. And that’s most probably the case for a lot of travellers. But at only three hours by local bus from Muang Khua it was a convenient place to stop and for me to rest up before continuing on to Luang Namtha. The lack of tourists, and all the infra-structure that goes with tourism, provided a fascinating insight into Laos city life.

Oudamxay Oudamxay

Oudamxay is mainly a trade centre. It’s close to the Chinese border and it shows. Many of the signs are in Chinese as well as Laos script. (I’m showing my ignorance here – I don’t know which particular Chinese language.) According to the Lonely Planet 25% of the population is Chinese.  And we wondered if the towns on the other side of the border might in fact be very similar.

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Muang Khua, and a forced change of plan

Muang Khua, and a forced change of plan

Join Jill, on a trip to Muang Khua.

Jill's Scene

Not many people visit Muang Khua and those who do don’t stay long – usually. What once might have been a quiet town felt to us like a staging post. People pass through on their way either to Vietnam or further into Northern Laos and Phongsali.

There’s lots of construction happening. Two large bridges now cross the Nam Ou and the Nam Phak rivers. Heavy trucks rumble through the town. I guess all the activity is, at least in part, connected with the construction of the dams on the Nam Ou.

I was immediately struck by the huge diversity in affluence. Women carried panier baskets filled with mandarins or vegetables to sell at their road side spot, others set up grills over stone pots and sold chicken kebabs, and then others drove by in large Lexus four wheel drives with tinted windows.

The main street from our balcony The main street from our balcony

We wandered through the…

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