Wednesday, 12 August 2009
MEKONG EXPEDITION 2007
DAY 1 Hadyai - Ranong, Thailand (560km)
Seven 4wd vehicles with 22 participants started their Mekong Expedition 2007 journey from Hadyai after morning briefing and checked-in at Ranong about 5.00pm. Our friends (the particpants) checked out the swimming pool and jacuzzi and it is interesting to know that the swimming pool water is supplied from the hot springs around the Ranong area. Ranong is famously known for its hot springs, waterfalls, sandy beaches and popular with the Thai people to enter Myanmar through Victoria Point.
DAY 2 Ranong - Ayuttaya, Thailand (690km >>> 1198km)
Along the way, we stopped at Kra Buri, a small fishing town ovelooking Myanmar. There we witnessed alot of trading activities between the Thai and Myanmar people. We also passed the most narrow part of the peninsula that connects Thailand and Myanmar. We stopped for lunch at PTT at Thong Song. Everyone agreed the soup at the muslim restaurant is delicious. Reached Ayuttaya around 7.00pm and later went for dinner at a muslim community food court.
DAY 3 Ayuttaya - Nongkai, Thailand (570km >>> 1768km)
On the way to Nongkai, we passed through Nakhon Ratchasima where the SEA games was held, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani. We arrived Nongkai about 5.00pm and in the evening had our dinner on a board a tongkang which was cruising the Mekong River. Nongkai sits on the western bank of the Mekong River which inter-connect with six countries namely Thailand, Laos, China, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
DAY 4 Nongkai, Thailand - Xiengkhong, Laos (400km >>>2168km)
After briefing, our Laos agent led the convoy to enter Laos but before entering we had to clear our vehicles at Thailand Customs and proceed to Immigration to exit Thailand. Once processing completed, we crossed the Friendship Bridge which was built in 1994. The Friendship Bridge brought a new era of economic and political harmony between the two nations especially after Laos has mobed forward after its communist past. Our agent prepared the necessary arrangements for our vehicles and passports and after completion, we proceed to Xienghkhong. We had to stop at Vientien because the lead vehicle developed some problems.
It was a blessing as we had the opportunity to explore the famous Patuxai, a reminiscent of Arc de Triomphe in Paris. We arrived Xienghkhong at 9.00pm after a long and winding journey and had dinner in the hotel itself. Note : The weather is very cold during this time of year.
DAY 5 Xiengkhong - Luang Prabang, Laos (270km >>> 2438km)
We toured the Plain of Jars at Phonsavan where huge jars of unknown origin are scattered all over the plain. There were quite a few theories on the functions of jars - used as wine fermenter, rice storage and even as a stone coffin as we were told. We spend about three hours at the plain and some explored the lower half of the plain.
The next destination-Luang Prabang and along the way we stopped to buy fruits, vegetables, snacks and souvenirs. We arrived Luang Prabang at 4.00pm and visited the Wat as it was still early. After dinner at the hotel, we boarded the local tranportation tuk tuk to the night market and had a great time shopping, shopping and more shopping all night.
DAY 6 Luang Prabang - Vientien, Laos (400km >>> 2838km)
After breakfast, we visited the Palace and did some last minute shopping after which we proceed to Vientien. Along the way, we stopped for lunch and arrived Vientien at 6.00pm. We had our dinner at an Indian Restaurant and were served Chicken Tandoori, Naan bread with dhall. This was the most decent meal after so many days and everyone enjoyed the dinner. Soon after that we checked in the hotel and some participants after freshing up, went sightseeing around town.
DAY 7 Vientien - Savannahet, Laos(530km >>> 3368km)
DAY 8 Savannkhet - Pakse, Laos (300km >>> 3668km)
We visited Pha That Lung Stupa - the most important National Monument in Laos which is a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Laos sovereignty. After the Stupa, we visited Talat Market, the biggest market in Vientien, and more SHOPPING....... We arrived Pakse at 2.00pm and went straight to Khone Phapheng Waterfall or dupped as the Niagara Falls of South East Asia. The waterfall which is alongside Mekong River features a 13km stretch of powerful rapids with several sets of cascades. We watched until our hearts are content and moved to visit the Pre Angkor ruin of Wat Phou. We had to cross the Mekong River by ferry in order to reach the ruin site. We reached Villa Phasuam Resort around 8.00pm and had dinner first before checking in. We were treated to a good and delicious dinner with the owners personally looking after us. We were accompanied by the staff to our rooms and we could hear our friends talking loudly (sounded like excitement). My room had 2 single heavy wooden bed and an extra bed for my daughter complete with mosquito nettings. What I liked most was the toilet situated outside and open air...you could see the trees above! With our stomach full from dinner and the cool weather, we knocked off soundly.
In the morning,we could see a river flowing behind our room admist the resort's natural landscape and the view is breathtaking. Everyone was mesmerized with the resort, their rooms and requested to stay another day at the resort. Breakfast was good and hearty and went around checking out the resort. We found 2 waterfalls (manmade) in the resort itself, treehouses, walking trek, chalets, souvenir shop. All of us were sad to leave such a mesmerizing place and will make a point to return to the resort again.
DAY 9 Pakse, Laos - Surin, Thailand (400km >>> 4068km)
DAY 10 Surin - Bangkok, Thailand (457km >>> 4525km)
We went around Pakse town and did some last minute shopping at the market before crossing to the Thailand border. We crossed Laos through the Japanese Bridge and enter Thailand through Chong Mek. We stayed overnight at Surin and in the morning continued our journey to Bangkok. We checked into our hotel at Bangkok around 5.00pm.
DAY 11 Bangkok, Thailand (0km >>> 4525km)
We split into 2 groups, Ghazi brought 1 group to the floating market and I brought my group to the 4x4 shop for some accessories. We regroup at the hotel in the afternoon to visit the Bangkok Safari. For dinner we had seafood followed by a certificate presentation and my daughter was applauded as she was the only female driver and had driven about 6500km despite an earlier sprained ankle. Later after dinner we went to Suanlum night market which houses 3000 units of shops and it was good exercise walking the streets of shops.
DAY 12 Bangkok - Chumphon, Thailand (465km >>> 4990km)
DAY 13 Chumphon - Hadyai, Thailand (485km >>> 5475km)
DAY 12 Hadyai, Thailand - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia(505km >>> 5980km)
We continued our journey to the south staying overnight at Chumphon and Hadyai before continuing our journey back to Kuala Lumpur. We were grateful that the expedition was smooth and as arranged and everyone was safe and sound. The journey back was long and tiring but the memories and mesmerizing moments kept our spirits high and looking forward for the next overland