Published: January 4th 2009December 7th 2008
Leaving Vietnam was straight forward with the slightly disrevelled passport but the country which I thought would be straight forward was Laos. This was not the case. All the group passed through the border relatively quickly and I was left in a corridor while detailed conversations were going on between the tour guide and the border staff. The guide later explained to me that they weren't happy and wanted to send me back to Vietnam but after further discussion I would be allowed into the country but had to get a new passport otherwise I wouldn't be able to leave!!
Laos has been described as what Thailand was like 50 years ago and the scenery easily eclipses that of Cambodia and Vietnam.
Laos was also bought into the Vietnam war when the NVA moved into it boarders. It was heavily bombed by the US and apparently more bombs were dropped on Laos than were used in whole of the second world war. You can still see people bathing in the bomb craters and some of the foliage looks relatively new.
Vietianne is the capital of Laos and the first morning was spent looking around
Wat Si Saket and Patuxay (Victory Gate). The city was quite un-appealing so in the afternoon a few of us went for a steam room and massage in what appeared to be someones house in the middle a wood, near the centre of town.
Vang Vieng is one of the most popular destinations in Laos and is very much a party town geared up for adrenaline activities and bars. Although for some reason alot of the bars constantly play reruns of the series 'friends' which can get a little wearing at times.
Luang Prabang is a Unesco World Heritage site but is quickly becoming a popular destination for travellers. Key sites included Wat Xiang Thong and Mount Phu Si which gave a great view across the town and surrounding countryside. There was also an opportunity to go to the Kuang Si waterfalls and then cool off in one of the rock pools. The next day was an early start as each morning hundreds of monks walk through the town to receive Alms from the people. This involved them collecting gifts of rice and food parcels in large dishes which would be their breakfast, lunch and dinner for the
rest of the day. It also meant a great trade for the stalls selling the rice to the tourists. As it was difficult to gauge how many monks would pass, the ones at the front tended to get the most rice and those at the end of the line got little, if anything at all!!!
The town had a market which had rows of stalls right through the centre most of them selling exactly the same items although only one was selling bats from a bucket (some alive some dead) as well as snake wine. The large glass jar was full of snakes but it was murky and had sat around for quite some time, so I decided not to try it this time round!!
The final two days involved a boat ride back towards Thailand which provided a good opportunity to relax although it was precarious as some points when the boat tried to navigate the rocks jutting out of the water.
After all the concerns about the passport there was no problem getting out of Laos and back in to Thailand. I knew that getting in to Australia would prove more difficult and so I
had to get a replacement. It was an expensive way to get an upgrade on my passport photo!
There are more photos below