Last time I wrote were we were due to arrive into Vientiane, where we spent a couple of days. It's a small and pretty French colonial city and Laos' capital.
At times - if you ignore the tuk-tuks - you could be mistaken for thinking you're in Paris: cafes with blackboards written in perfect French handwriting, run by French ex-pats, advertising duck a l'orange and 'jambon beurre' baguettes, tucked in amongst the Laotian cafes selling fried noodles.
|Can you spot the French influence?|
We also found a Tintin-themed Belgian beer cafe, which Kev just couldn't resist!
|Drinking with Tintin in the Belgian beer cafe|
Laos is the most bombed country in the world per capita. The impact of the Vietnam war in Laos was equivalent to bombs being dropped every eight minutes, 24/7 for nine years, non-stop. Thirty percent of the cluster bombs dropped did not detonate and are therefore still active.
Much of the land is used for farming so the unexplored 'bombies' (individual bombs, about the size of an orange, within the larger cluster bomb shell) still pose a very real threat today. However, with new bomb search and disposal techniques, they hope to clear all remaining ordnance by 2020.
We passed through a town called Trat – the jumping off point for Koh Chang and randomly met a man who lives in Truro – it’s a small world and the Cornish really do get everywhere!
Koh Chang is Thailands third largest island and is just south of Bangkok. It has a mountainous, jungle interior and is fringed with pretty sandy beaches on the west coast – the perfect place for a spot of rest and relaxation.
|White Sands Beach|
We hired a scooter to get around and made Kai Bae Beach our home for the week. Three times a day the elephants from a nearby elephant camp would be walked down the beach to bathe in the sea (which from experience, we know they love!
|Elephants on Kai Bae Beach|
I just hope they were not forced to also do circus tricks for tourists in the camp). In any case, they seemed to love the ocean and were well used to human contact. You could walk right up to them in the sea and touch them if you wanted, but even the baby ones are pretty strong so I kept a safe distance!
|Baby elephant, Kai Bae Beach|
One afternoon we hired a kayak and paddled around on of the small off-islands off Kai Bae Beach. It took forty-five minutes and was a welcome break from the inactivity of sitting around on the beach. That said, I think some beach time was long overdue after a month in land-locked northern Thailand and Laos.
|White Sands Beach|