Published: February 18th 2008February 13th 2008
When we walked across the runway from the plane Ellies first comment was "It's just like New Zealand but warmer"
The flight from Vientiane was short and sweet in another turbo prop. The views of the little mountain villages were fantastic.
We had bought some warm coats in Vientiane, due to the cold weather there and expecting it to be a bit cooler in the evening in the mountains. Shame really cos it was shorts and t-shirts all bar our last da there.
We got to the hotel and then went for a walk. Getting lost was all part of the plan, so was walking the kids till there legs nearly fell off!!
We eventually stopped at Wat Ho Xieng and watched the monks drumming, which was great. They were all taking it in turns to hit the drum with quite some force and creating quite a funky beat.
We then walked over the road to a tour operators and organised to go on a day on the elephants and kyaking. This was organised
We then spent the next day chilling and doing not a lot. We went for a walk to find the Tom Tom Cheng restaurant. Chloe found it
in the guide book and wanted to do their cooking course. On the way back from there we walked along the Nam Khan river and came across a bamboo bridge over to a small beach. Ellie and I decided to go and investigate. As the bridge was built by the locals it cost us 4000 kip each to get across and back. The following couple of hours watching will stay in my memory for the rest of my life. It was heart warming to watch kids from the ages of 2 or 3 up to teenagers playing together. Jumping off of the bridge and swimming in the fast flowing river. Chloe was sat with Aisha at the top of the stairs down to the bridge. They were acosted by a girl of 11 called Noi trying to sell little dolls and nik naks. They gave her Aisha's colouring book and some pens. She had a whale of a time, Aisha wanted to give her one of the pages out of the book that she had coloured but she wouldn't take it, after being offered it twice she took it with a smile. When we left she was trying to get
us to buy a doll each for the girls, being the miserable old git that I am I said no. Unbeknow to us an American has sat and watched the whole thing going on and stopped us and Noi then bought the girls a little china doll each.
The following morning we were up and out for 8 to go to the elephant camp. We got a tuk tuk with 6 others and drove to the camp. The last 6km's was on unmade road which made it, erm, quite a bit slower. We spoke to one of the guys who had been to Laos 8 years earlier and he couldn't belive how much things had changed since he was last there. Tarmac being the biggest change. He said that his strongest memories of Laos was constantly feeling car sick in the back of a van because it was going all over the place to avoid the bigger pot holes.
The elephant ride was largely uneventful except for when it stopped to go to the toilet. Aisha thought it was hysterical that so much came out and because the noise it made when it hit the floor!!!!!!!!!
We were fed and
Nam Khan river
Boy jumping in the river
then taken down to the river to learn how to use a kyak. We decided that it would be best if Ellie went with Chloe and Aisha with me. Aisha thought it would be fun to try and row but I didn't have the heart to tell her that she was just making it harder for me as she was mostly rowing a lot slower then I was. We had to go over a few very minor rapids and was told by the guide that we should follow his path to avoid the possibility of grounding out. What he didn't mention was the possibility of hitting a blatently obvious rock and then capsizing. Oh yeah and then getting the kyak caught between two rocks directly in the current and not being able to move it!!!! Yep Chloe and Ellie managed to do just that. They are still not quite sure how they managed it. At least they didn't panic and the water was shallow enough to stand up in. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time, due to leaving late, to get back to Luang Prabang. We then had to stop at a small village on the way. I was told
the name but it completely escapes me now. We were accosted by a little old lady who wanted some money for some eye medicine. Our guide couldn't really understand what she was saying due to her being a hmong. We did manage to row approx. 7km and get sunburnt! But a very good time was had by all.
The girls had to go to the Buddha caves without me as I had spent the night hanging on to the toilet!!!! I spent the day in bed sleeping mostly. I get Chloe to write something about that, I promise, honest.
The following day we went up to That Chomsi. It is a large gold stupa on top of the mountain. There are very nice signs telling you how many steps you have come up when you have to stop and buy a ticket, 20000 kip, and that there are another 190 till you get to the top. I had to promise to buy Ellie an ice cream to get her to continue to the top. When we got there the view on both sides is fantastic. On one side you can see the mekong river and the other all of Luang
Prabang and the Airport. I took a couple of snaps of some fantastic moths, not sure what they are though. Ellie and I went in to the temple and got a fortune. You shake some large sticks in a pot and then tip them out and the first one to hit the ground you get a number off of and the pick up the corresponing piece of paper with the fortune on. When we came out Chloe and Aisha had disappeared, we assumed that they had gone down the otherside to see the buddha's foot. Part of the way down We asked a man if he could translate the fortune for us as it was written in Laos. He was very friendly and said that he would as long as we let him try out his English on us. We were in confusion until we realised that he had quite a bit of trouble with r's. He was trying to describe his college building and kept saying that it had a led loof. It took a few seconds before the penny dropped and he meant red roof. Other than that his English was quite good, well its considerably better than
my grasp of the Laos language. This consists of exactly four words. Due to spending 20 minutes with this very friendly man we lost Chloe and Aisha. We continued on our way and went into the cave and was briefly confused by a statue of a man in the cave. From 25 feet away in the semi darkness it looked like a guy meditating. We eventually caught up with the other two about an hour and a half later. We eventually found a cafe that had ice cream. The only other place that we could find that had some was shut.
The following day Chloe and Ellie went on their cooking course. Whislt they were doing that Aisha and I found another one that was cheaper and all day not just till 14.00. Oh well not too worry as they both had a great time and made a few different dishes. All of the people on the course thought that Ellie was brilliant. She now has an addiction to sticky rice.
Our last day there was spent just bimbling and playing with small and cute dogs and cats, they are everywhere and are surprisingly well looked after.
When we got
back to the hotel I left Ellie in the lobby whilst I went and got the computer so she could check her emails. When I came back down she had the three guys on duty playing pontoon. They then in turn taught her a similar game that they play.
We left at 6.10 the following morning and drove, in the cold and dark, past the monks recieving their alms from the locals who were sat at the side of the road wanting to be blessed. I was in a warm fleece and long trousers and still a little chilly and these guys are barefoot in not a lot.
The people are very welcoming, incredibly happy and friendly. The town is beautiful. So why haven't you been yet?
There are more photos below