HWZ Forums

Login Register FAQ Mark Forums Read

Singapore to London Overland in 75 Days!!

Like Tree11Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 03-07-2018, 11:22 PM   #31
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Bangkok D3 - 6/6/18

Today is when I depart the Land of Smiles and head for Laos. But before that, once again, I headed to food street along Yotha road and this time round with abit more adventure, I tried an actual roadside stall, not without scrutinising the food preparation methods. For hygiene sake, I definitely will not be looking forward to an upset stomach on an overnight train. Just soup noodles with various side ingredients, but the clear broth and ingredients made this dish more appetising than most soup noodles I have had in Singapore.



All I have to say is that the local food that common Thai people eat are healthy and that is clear from their slim figures. With some time to spare till our evening departure, we headed to National Museum. Unfortunately, about half of the exhibits are closed for renovation and I felt it was not worth the 200Baht/entry.
I decided to make a trip to nearby Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Unfortunately again, I was wearing slippers and bermudas which meant 1) I needed socks, 2) I needed long pants. Feeling frustrated in the sizzling 34 degrees heat, I backed off among the touts and opportunists and headed to view Loha Prasat, a temple located near Rattanakosin Exhibition. Loha Prasat was a 2km walk away and another grand temple in its own right, with only a 20baht donation fee. This is a view from the top of Loha Prasat temple onto its surrounding structures.


It was about time to head back and due to abit of poor time plans, I had a quick meal at my hostel cafe which was decent.


The past few days were spent trying to find tapioca with coconut but alas, I could not believe such a Thai desert delicacy could not be found along the streets! The hostel keeper was kind enough to get for me for free, but I felt so bad I paid her 40baht for it, only for her to decline and return me back 30baht. The locals really know how to get it cheap!

Thereafter, I headed to Hua Lamphong railway for the 8pm train and was 30mins early.


The train looked like a cargo freight externally but it was decent internally, with reasonably clean beds, chairs and freshly laundered bed linen.


I ended the night watching movies and having tapioca with coconut and desert

__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2018, 11:38 PM   #32
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Laos D1 - 07/06/18

I realised that as I moved further up north, the first rays of lights seemed to shine earlier too. It was 6a.m but it felt like 7a.m in Singapore. I walked around the train and chanced upon an almost empty restuarant car serving breakfast.


Meanwhile, I took some pictures of life outside the train in rural border Thailand, the town of Nong Khai.


I alighted at Nong Khai railway station and had to first purchase tickets at the counter. There were 2 options: 1) Purchase a 20baht ticket for shuttle train or 2) Purchase both shuttle train and minivan ticket for 300 baht.
Knowing how it works from my online research, I chose option 1 for shuttle train from Nong Khai to Thanaleng (Laos border town) and then pay 150baht there for a minivan ticket to Vientiane. Hence, instead of paying 300baht, I only pay 170 Baht resulting in a savings of 130baht!


After ticket purchase, I passed through Thai immigration before entering the shuttle train perfect for its functionality: only to shuttle passengers to and fro and nothing else.


We took the makeshift van thereafter from Thanaleng to Vientiane and got to our accommodation, Mekong Riverside.


By then it was about 9a.m. Interestingly, the owner was still asleep and only woke up at around 9.30a.m.



In fact, the whole of Vientiane seemed like a ghost town as shops only started operating around 10a.m-11a.m. The money changer at Vientiane was surprisingly competitive and offered spreads of less than 1%, usually 0.2-0.3% for common currencies.
Due to abit of difficulty sleeping onboard the train, I was rather tired and I had forgotten to take photos of my breakfast. I had green curry and rice and was rather good but the soup was thin as they did not use thickener. When I checked into hostel at 1pm, I slowly drifted into deep sleep till around 5pm.
It was dinner time and I headed out for dinner. I was staying in a touristic central part of Vientiane, in fact with the Laos night market just 200m from us at the Mekong riverside. Prices of food were therefore naturally jacked up to rake in tourist dollars from Westerners but still considered cheap by developed countries status.
I went to a Lebanese restuarant for dinner and food was mediocre. Sad to say, the rest of the meals in Laos which were not Laos authentic food were average at best. I had beef burger with fries while my partner had beef platter, hummus, etc
__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan

Last edited by coolhead; 03-07-2018 at 11:40 PM..
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-07-2018, 11:44 PM   #33
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Laos D1 - 07/06/18

Frankly, the dinner leaved much to be desired and I felt frustrated spending tourist dollars on a crappy middle eastern food. Neither my mouth nor my brain will give way to sleeping before a satisfied meal today. I walked along the night market which was partially closed as it was drizzling moderately.


Though I knew I was taking a risk, I saw a burger stall selling a giant piece of pork skewered on a rotating grill. The hygiene methods seemed satisfactory and I order the pork kebab burger for S$1.50. This burger made my night, it was more delicious than the middle eastern dinner.
__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2018, 09:16 PM   #34
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Laos D2 - 08/06/18

On my 2nd day in Vientiane, Laos, I went for tried and tested local cuisine, red curry with rice while my partner had fat noodle soup (Yes, that's how it was named).


Just a photo of the typical street along urban Vientiane.


I took a tuk tuk to an ironic attraction called COPE Visitor Centre. It is ironic in the sense that it is an attraction on Google Maps and people were recommending the visit here to understand the attrocities committed by the US during the Vietnam war, which spilled into Laos. But then, it should not be a tourist attraction. The ride of about 5km cost us 40000kip.
It is a centre where war and minefield survivors post-Vietnam war get help and assistance to get prostetic legs and re-integrate back into their lives.



Visit is free but donation is welcomed. On my part after visitng the exhibit, it was a worthy cause and I donated 20000kip (3sgd). Bonus picture of a kitten and its mum I saw at the exhibit.


I made my way gradually back to my hostel visiting temples along the way. These temple visits are free and do not cost money. Among the temples I visited was Wat Si Muang.



The girl in conversation with the monk on the carpet was really demure, pretty and stole my eyes...
__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2018, 09:24 PM   #35
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Laos D2 - 08/06/18

There was an exhibtion I paid 20000kip and it is called Wat Phra Kaew. Howeever, most language were in French and Laos I felt it was not worthy and a waste of time. This is the picture shown here and the building on the left is the museum/temple. I really will not recommend coming here.


Further into city centre, I chanced upon a Swenson's and no way would I pass up a chance to try the ice cream in the local summer heat. The ice cream here cost 40% cheaper in Singapore and even then, it seemed like a luxury as only the well-dressed Laotians with their children were seen enjoying the ice cream.
The price of a sticky chewy chocolate here was 39,000kip (SGD6.50) and could easily have been a one day 3 meals for a Laotian.


I then refreshed myself at our hostel before heading to a Laotian massage parlour to try traditional Laotian massage. It is softer than Thai massage though the techniques seem to be mostly similar. I would have preferred Thai massage though. Nonethless, for 1 hour traditional Laos massage, it cost 60000kip (9.50sgd) and I felt mostly refreshed.
It is evening time now, I wondered along the Mekong river and the daily culture here is interesting. You can see people exercising to blaring Korean pop music.


There was a picturesque scene of a hawker centre beside the Mekong river, well captured in the cool Laotian sunset.


Dinner was at a Laos restaurant with unremarkable food, perhaps what I chose was unauthentic hence... But it does the minimum job of filling my stomach. Sorry, did not take pictures as the food was just unremarkable.
__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2018, 10:24 PM   #36
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Laos D3 - 09/06/18

This is my last day in Laos before departure on the 24 hour hell bus ride to Hanoi. Writing the previous sentence truly sent the shivers up my spine. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the remaining of my time in Laos with more attractions visiting such as the unfinished Victory Monument as well as having breakfast at a local eatery with seemingly authentic noodle dishes.




I had my last meal in Laos at an eatery featuring local and Chinese cuisine with surprisingly good egg fried rice.


Thereafter, I had a 14km tuk tuk ride at 80,000 kip to the Vientiane Southern Bus terminal. This is the fateful bus that took us 24 hours to Hanoi. There was an air of apprehension as I exchanged my printed online form for a bus ticket.
I was led by a reluctant female officer to the crowd of Vietnamese passengers and drivers, which were unseemingly interested in me and had more attention with her Vietnamese comrades (drivers). Soon, the drivers started to swarm us but the female officer led me to this particular driver.
Soon, our worst fears were realised to the truest extent from what we read online. Foreign passengers (Non-Vietnamese) were all squeezed into the back of the bus where the toilet is and it was so damn smelly and warm.
The air was stale and the stench would actually remain on some of my belongings for almost a few weeks. In fact, writing this 8 days after the bus trip, a lil lil bit of stench remained. Thankfully, this is a once in a lifetime trip.
I was right behind on the top bunk and little did I know that below us were Singaporeans as well who are mostly likely in a worst off position than us. Kudos to these Singaporeans which I met briefly and parted thereafter when we reached our Hanoi destination. The duo males were in the midst of their polytechnic years and were intending to purchase bikes, ride to another destination in Vietnam before selling it away. I commented to them, what an interesting expedition at this tender age and I am sure this is something they will remember in their lives. Anyway, back to the horrendous bus trip, there was little I wanted to recount about this trip than try to sleep the night away amidst the stale air and constant banging of the toilet doors, which when left open, I would use my feet and kick the door to submission. I felt too disgusted by the hygiene to take a picture of the bus interior.
__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-07-2018, 11:12 PM   #37
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Vietnam D1 - 10/6/18

I managed to catch some sleep aboard the back of the smelly and stale bus. Nothing in my National Service would have prepared me for this ordeal. The bus stopped for dinner around 10pm but I wasn't interested and I simply snacked on my cereal bars. The bus moved on 30mins later and finally reached the checkpoint around 4a.m.
The bus stopped for about 2 hours and I managed to continue catching sleep. Thankfully, the light rain made the surroundings cooler for a better sleep. However I was brashly awaken at 6a.m to alight the bus for immigration at Laos border.
It was quite a chaos as I juggled between clearing immigration, paying some immigration fee and changing currency. Unfortunately, it was impossible to get a good understanding of the exchange rate as the mobile network was virtually nil and there was no update on the whiteboard on rates, so I was kinda ripped off on exchanging kip to dong.
Thankfully for us ASEAN people, clearing immigration was a relative breeze apart from an incident where a fellow Singaporean did not get his passport stamped accidentally. All the caucausians had to get their VISA and then passport done subsequently. This is a picture of the Laos immigration border exit.


ASEANians got on the bus across the border whereas the slower caucasians (who had to do their Visa on-site) had to make do with walking across the border. It was slightly better at the Vietnam border though common sense is still necessarily to negotiate the immigration process. Shown here in this picture is a seemingly makeshift area whereby our passports are checked for Laos immigration exit stamp before proceeding to the Vietnamese immigration border. Of course, I do not know why so many checks are required.


Only after clearing security check did I realise that I have to backtrack to get my passport stamped. It was cooling after the rain and a much welcome 30mins reprieve before entering the bus again. Here, Vietnamese (I presume) could be seen entering Vietnam after completing the Vietnam immigration process.


It will be another 10 hours before we reach Hanoi Nuoc Ngam bus terminal and forget the nightmarish ride asap. The 4 foreigners on the left who were also placed in the relative rear of the bus, just look at their shag faces, especially the one hugging his bag in front.

I was determined to reach our hostel asap after alighting the bus, but not without bading farewell to our fellow Singaporeans who were on a brave motorcycling trip in Vietnam before finishing final year polytechnic
As soon as I left the bus terminal, droves of Grab drivers/motorcyclists began to flock around us and haggle for the standard tourist rip-off prices. It seemed well acted as among them, only 1-2 negotiated a price. It seems they do not fight amongst themselves. Feeling disgusted by their outrageous pricing of 200,000dong, I went through official Grab app and got a Grabcar for 95,000 dong. The feeling of satisfaction was undeniable as the business model of ripping off tourist with through-the-roof prices simply left me unfazed. I wished I could chuckle in their presence, but a demeanor of nonchalance would be a wiser move.
We arrived at the hostel which was decent, clean but slow and intermittent wifi.

https://i.imgur.com/vSQr9ta.jpg

Nonetheless, I settled down and had chicken pho with pig liver at a nearby food stall. If in doubt, a hot dish with blanching of ingredients should be a safe bet against overseas food poisoning.
__________________
Please stop the brainless brainlessness. Copyright 2007-19.All rights reserved. Pubg IGN: hilterchan
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2018, 01:47 PM   #38
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 72
Sorry but i had to laugh at the bus trip I know it wasn't funny, but ya, congrats on making that! haha i would never ever be able to survive.

Good job!
arfness is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2018, 02:47 PM   #39
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Sorry but i had to laugh at the bus trip I know it wasn't funny, but ya, congrats on making that! haha i would never ever be able to survive.

Good job!
That angmoh male Shag face says it all. Well, to be a backpacker requires an open mind. As an American, I guess he didn't have much say lol.

You never try, you never know.
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2018, 03:29 AM   #40
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
ralliart_ray's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Posts: 21,140
camping for updates
__________________
\_(ツ)_/ Glory! Glory! Manchester United! \_(ツ)_/
ralliart_ray is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2018, 05:12 PM   #41
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
camping for updates
I should be able to update more tonight with good internet connection. I've been on train from Irkutsk to Yekaterinburg for 2straight days and before that, it was nature visiting with not much chance of online updates.


Here's a sneak peek of where I am. The view of Yekaterinburg city at 1a.m local time. The city never really gets dark at all because of the long summer. The lazy bluish-orange hue does give a feel of the city about to get up on its feet and start the day, but still only 1a.m. it's 1.30a.m now and already getting slighter brighter.
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2018, 07:49 PM   #42
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 20,437
so did you like Outer Mongolia? did you go to Olkhon Island?
__________________
Rawr!
dilphinus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2018, 09:14 PM   #43
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
so did you like Outer Mongolia? did you go to Olkhon Island?
I went to central Mongolia which you can consider as outer mongolia, basically outside Ulan Bator where I spent 4d3n.

I also went to listvyanka for 1night and Olkhon island for 3nights.
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2018, 09:22 PM   #44
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 20,437
I went to central Mongolia which you can consider as outer mongolia, basically outside Ulan Bator where I spent 4d3n.

I also went to listvyanka for 1night and Olkhon island for 3nights.
Erm, Inner Mongolia aka Hohhot is in China. Mongolia is also known as Outer Mongolia (outside China).
__________________
Rawr!
dilphinus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-2018, 10:22 PM   #45
Arch-Supremacy Member
 
coolhead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 23,069
Erm, Inner Mongolia aka Hohhot is in China. Mongolia is also known as Outer Mongolia (outside China).
Yup, I went to outer mongolia, visited the terelj national park, erdenezuu monastery, kharkourin museum (ancient city of Mongolia), some mini sand dune area in 300km west of Mongolia. Quite an experience living in the ger among dry grasslands as well.
coolhead is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply
Important Forum Advisory Note
This forum is moderated by volunteer moderators who will react only to members' feedback on posts. Moderators are not employees or representatives of HWZ. Forum members and moderators are responsible for their own posts.

Please refer to our Terms of Service for more information.


Thread Tools

Posting Rules

Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On