Lovin it, Lovin it, Lovin it Laos!


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Asia » Laos
March 30th 2009
Published: March 31st 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Overlooking the Mekong RiverOverlooking the Mekong RiverOverlooking the Mekong River

with Thailand's lights on the other side!
We're ready for our chilled out 4weeks in Laos and hoping there's enough to do there. All we have heard is positive things so we're a little excited to say the least. Starting off with the lovely 24hr journey from Hanoi (Vietnam) to our first stop Vientiane.....

Sunday 1st March
Pinch and a punch first of the month! Not looking forward to the long overnight journey to Vientiane but really excited about Laos. So we had to kill time today so we packed checked out and headed to the long dreamed about pasta buffet which we had seen on our arrival day and thought we would save it for today and SUPPRISE! Closed sunday bummer really needed to stuff my self silly after lack of food these past few days. So sulking we grabbed something from a resturant then went for a walk. The day passed slowly, and also, suprisingly FREEZING (as in gloves, scalves and every item of clothing weather) but we only had our travel stuff so we were cold to the bone. By 5:30 the bus arrived and they were trying there hardest to get us on a motor taxi (motor bike) and we refused with our bags (and my trauma after Ko Samui) especially when we kind of got the idea from them they wanted to take us both at the same time ha ha ha haaaaa! After tham babbling and me shaking my head refusing point blank and Steve demanding a taxi we got one whoop whoop we won na na na na naaaaa! (I know it's childish but they usually always get away with it and it's good to get one up now and then no matter how big or small) So it's now nearly 6pm and we got dropped off at the Laos Embassy with 2 Argentinian guys we picked up on the way(were they also going to get on the bike?) It's raining cold and whilst we're talking we notice our guide (who followed us on the bike) has disapeared on us but finally our bus turns up at 7pm actually trying to rush us like they had been waiting for us, oh they do make you chuckle. The bus had a lot of locals on board so that filled us with a little confidence that we wouldn't be dumped at the border so fingers crossed x Sleep came rather shortly after
Patuxai/AnusawaliPatuxai/AnusawaliPatuxai/Anusawali

The Vertical runway
we left.

Monday 2nd March
4am arrive at the border so the bus has to pull in and wait for it to open at 7am which worked out great as we could get a nice 3hrs sleep. The border opened on time and we went through with no problems except for the cheeky monkeys wanting $1 to stamp you out of Vietnam then $1 to stamp you into Laos. We knew about the stamp $1 for Laos and obviously the Vietnamese have caught on to this to we didn't have enough but after persisting the guy reluctantly stamped. We got back to our bus no problem and waited for the driver to eat his brekkie and set off again at 8:30 the journey overall was fine and we both sleep pretty much the rest of the way. Arrived at the bus station at 3pm 4hrs earlier than expected bonus! Didn't have a clue which bus station we were at so we jumped on a waiting "Sawngthaew"(a converted pick up truck with 2 benches either side hum comfy) and headed to hostel hunt this was not overly succesful they were either expensive or full so we ended up back at the first one we tried for $9 and it was also being refurbished as we checked in! The room would be ready at 5pm as there isn't even a bed in there so we went for a walk around town. Got back at 5pm and they had given our room to someone else and she was just paying at reception and the boyfriend was in bed. Anyway after a further 30min it was sorted they moved this couple to another room (more expensive) and we got our room, very basic just a fan 2 single beds and a set of drawers but so new looking. We finally got a shower after the backlog of everyone else (I made sure I wore my flipflops) then headed out to grab a quick dinner then an early night.

Tuesday 3rd March
Suprise we get brekkie included just toast and jam but hey better than a kick in the teeth. So no suprising Steve managed to eat enough to keep him going for the week I think. The excitement didn't stop there we also get free coffee and cake from 11am until 4pm so that will do for lunch methinks. So we decided
Steak NightSteak NightSteak Night

Mmm Mmmm Mmmmm
to not bother trying to find cheaper as this has our food covered to for the price so we cant go wrong. At brekkie we chatted to an older American guy David travelling alone and arranged to meet for dinner. We then spent the day seeing what there is to do in Vientiane so we can decide how long to stay. We checked out a lonely planet recommended hotel that allows you to use their pool for $2 but they had got lonely planetitus and are now charging $6 so thats a shame. We realized that there is only one real day of sight seeing and then only 2 days for Thai visas so we may head off in 3 days but we aren't in any hurry. Headed out for dinner with David to the river side vendors it was nice as they have sit crossed leg seating with cushions and fairy lights added bonus its cheap then we went for a stroll and saw some lady boys who scared me a little but they smelled really nice. Again book and bed.

Wednesday 4th March
10am Up for brekkie Of course! But none left supposed to go on untill
Broken down busBroken down busBroken down bus

Put some water on it!!
11am but we got some cake instead but I could smell toast it wasn't a good start to the day. Until got chatting to some others and they told us about a public pool for 10000kip (83p) so we were all ready to go sight seeing untill this new info and it being so hot it took one look at each other before we were in our swimmies and ready to lounge by the pool for the day (or 2 te he) after 15min of pure bliss in true Aimee tradition a crying child or 2 or 3,4,5 a school load why? They where actually really cute and loved to stare at us I really wish I could talk back to them but you can't learn every language I suppose because I've said it everwhere we go but they are cute. They left around 1pm to be replaced by older more boisterous school kids and I wished I could speak Lao again for a whole different reason. We left at 3pm as it was so hot and got back in time for coffee and cake but again no cake left i'll be having words if this carries on my man
The Bucket Bar.The Bucket Bar.The Bucket Bar.

A bucket full of liquid FUN!
neads feeding! Good old dinner by the river at the usual x

Thursday 5th March
Up early and a yummy smell of toast it's like being at home the little things we miss!We are off to the Thai embassy and some sights along the way. We changed some travellers cheques because we got them when 1 pound was 0.52$ now it's as bad as 1 pound to $1 not good getting money out as it's only half it's old value and the worse part is is that everything in south east asia has also nearly trippled in price. So basically its expensive. So back to travellers cheques we were getting from the bank 12,100 kip to 1 pound and the travellers cheques came back as 16,274 kip to 1 pound so we made quite a bit because we changed 6 of our cheques. I think, well I know Steve has already worked out how much extra beer that is, not how much I can have on clothes in Bangkok which is clearly where it's going tee hee! So we carried on to the embassy and got very lost more than once eventually came to the correct place on the
Day 1 TubingDay 1 TubingDay 1 Tubing

Vang Vieng
map to be greeted by a guard with a map and saying "Visa department moved there" and then walked away. So im thinking this has to be a record as every visa we have to get the embassy have "just" moved but at least these guys don't just wave their arms saying something like "moved over there" and you're left clueless. So off we went in the direction of the map Steve struggling to understand the way they had positioned the streets whilst im just hoping he dosen't ask what I think because I dont even understand where we are on the map let alone where we need to go. Finally as usual we get there after another 20min walk. We entered at 10:30 and where given a number 356/357 so as you can imagine there were a lot of people waiting. We grabbed our forms as they called out number 225 so are we in for a long wait? I assume we are as I take a look around and notice a few sleeping and some look like they have given up the will to live. So we expected the worse and then you can't be disappointed. We also
Me and Him whilst tubingMe and Him whilst tubingMe and Him whilst tubing

at on of the riverside bars
had some excellent news our visas would be "FREE" and luck would have it this free visa began today and finishes in june so we and a lot of others were stoked after all the messing around we did there last time Ha Ha Ha Thailand can't do without "Us backpackers" after all. Told Steve he could have the money for his beer fund and that stopped him cursing Thailands goverment about trying to get rid of backpackers and he said they would be wanting us back bless him. We later discovered it wasn't that bad as our number was called out at 11:30 so 1hr hey easy peasy see you later but we were told to head over to the building opposite and were greeted by some familiar bored faces apparantly we had to wait for a recipt at least we have air-con. Only had to wait 1 hour and we have to collect tomorrow between 1-3pm.
The rest of the day we did a few sights started with Patuxa Vientianes haughty Arc De Triomphe replica the locals refer to it as "anusawali" and it's also known as the vertical runway because it was built in 1969 with cement donated by the USA for the construction of a new runway but clearly the Laos had other ideas. It commemorates the Laos who died in pre-revolutionary wars so it dose have a purpose. We then decided to get some "bling candy" at the Golden Pha That Luang the most important monument in Laos. Some info we got for free which i'll kindly share with you. Legend has it Askhokon Misssionaries from India created a thaat (buddist stupa) here to enclose a piece of Buddas breast bone as early as the 3rd century and then it went on but I couldn't say most of the words let alone spell them so there's my history lesson over with. By this point it was so hot we were finding it difficult to stay out in the sun so we headed back to our cool fan room oh bliss! Later decided to have a drink because I haven't had one for a while and Steve was having his beers so we headed out about 7pm had a few at a riverside bar everywhere was quiet because the locals dont come out to eat until around 8pm. We decided to try a new place for
Steve and PeteSteve and PeteSteve and Pete

and the small swing behind
our drinks and dinner so we sat there waiting for our resturant to fill up because Lonely planet states "Resturant worth eating in will be full of locals" by 8pm the resturants on either side were full and ours was empty hum what do you think Steve??? Funnily enougth we decided to give it a try anyway and it was fine nice even and we're not dead yet so it's all looking good. Be back tomorrow if we survive the night!

Friday 6th March
Oh dear Steve was up all night really poorly but we actually don't think it was the food it was more like the bug I had in Hanoi and lets face it I would have been ill too because we ate the same. He managed toast though not his usual amount but not a bad job. We picked our visas up took 45min then we checked the bus for Vang Vieng 30.000 for 3hrs not bad. Had an easy afternoon and Steve felt starving later so we had a treat we went to a slightly expensive (on our budget anyway) resturant on the square and had their special Steak menu for 2 at 135.000 (11.15
Mud Fight!Mud Fight!Mud Fight!

I'm never gonna get this muck out of my bikini!
pound) and it was amazing so yummy and not to big or small we especially enjoyed the warm bread with garlic butter they keep refilling as you ate. We ate our bread and saved our starter salad to accompany our main whilst we watched the chef cooked the Steak on a BBQ right next to us and the smell was mouth watering and it arrived cooked perfectly accompanied by 3 mini spuds and 4 sauces one being my favourite roquefort sauce. If we stay a while we may go back as it was so nice and a very welcome change to the usual noodle and rice dishes. A nice night because it reminded me of our pre-travel meals out as a couple on holiday at a fancy resturant not the usual budget dives we have become accustomed to. We carried our full bellies back to the hostel to plan our next steak night.

Saturday 7th March
DO YOU HEAR DRILLING ARRRRH!Oh yes woken by the builders before 8am on a saturday for christ sake even on week days they don't begin untill after 9am. Finally dragged "mr sleep through anything" up at 10am because I was ready to hit
Luang PrabangLuang PrabangLuang Prabang

Night Market
the pool. Forgot it was a saturday and the pool would be swarmed with kids but no adults. They really wouldn't leave us alone and kind of just hung around you staring and when you went in the pool the spot right next to you was the perfect place for them to "bomb dive" it didn't bother me but you cant communicate obviously due to the language barrier and the fact that some of them just wanted to annoy you and I must say they did! We had to stop going in the pool as it got so busy and the kids where hanging round our stuff when we did so we decided to call it a day headed back for some cake (hopefully) Went to another resturant and had a red/green curry with rice they where cheap at 12.00kip plus 5000 kip rice (just over 1pound on our new rate) and yummy. Later had a few drinks in the room and Steve beat me about 20 times! Oh at cards that is lol!

Sunday 8th March
Day away from the sun. We did our vietnam blogs (which im sure you have all read) im just so slow its
Nong KhiawNong KhiawNong Khiaw

is just a dusty little village!
painfull this kid about 8yrs old with hair over his eyes typed faster than I do and he can't even bloomin see! Anyway starved ourselfs all day so we could have enough money and room in our bellies for our yummy steak resturant and it didn't disappoint.

Monday 9th March
Should have been the last day here but we decided to stay due to it being "womans day" and for some reason that meant the kids were off again and we really wanted to do the pool without being swarmed by unsupervised kids which happened again today. We had a good morning though we got love heart fried eggs with our toast for brekkie so that set us up for the day.

Tuesday 10th March
Chill day we even decided to stay another day as well because we feel so settled here and secretly we can't be bothered to pack it's becoming a chore now! We spent a while on the internet because it's cheap and one of the only places here with air-con bliss! Steve stayed up for football 5am I think it finished must be mad!

Wednesday 11th March
Again not a lot to say,
Kids in Nong KhiawKids in Nong KhiawKids in Nong Khiaw

Watch your wallets!!
Pool, dinner than we chilled out ready to move on now been nice but to much of a good thing as they say. Im actualy looking forward to having a reason to get up early weird I know.

Thursday 12th March
Finaly got off our lazy bottoms and headed for the bus to Vang Vieng. Bus station was a little crazy and we struggled to locate our bus. Finaly we came across it and we should have been looking for the oldest looking one there clearly. It was rather full just 2 seats left together but they were the ones on the wheel again which means ill be head butting my knees the whole way not looking forward to 4hrs of this. The bus left on time 9:30 and already im sliding off the well thought out leather seats and my position on the wheel is proving difficult. We decided to blow our head cusions up on sit on them to avoid the leather and to lift me a little higher. Perfect! Well when were not in motion as soon as the bus turns a corner it becomes a challenge to maintain my balance but like most things it
Tham Pha Tok CavesTham Pha Tok CavesTham Pha Tok Caves

and paddy's in the background
got easier. It's such a hot day and im actually missing the over the top air-con buses we had in Vietnam. We are half way through the journey when the engine cuts out. So we pull in and the driver and his local pals start pooring water into the engine so there's steam pumping out and boiling water bubbling over the top it reminds us of South America. We asked a local if we could use her toilet you have to take your shoes of but there is no chance im walking on the toilet floor with my bare tootsies let alone use a squat toilet because even I know aiming takes some doing. so I snuck my shoes in and noticed a big bag of something on the floor next to the toilet I looked closer and it's a bag of internal organs which im hoping belong to animals but I get out of there pronto just in case. So we're on the road again and arrive at 2pm grab a Tuk Tuk and head hostel hunting. Some expensive but we settled for one at 60.oookip (approx 5 pounds) and it's overlooking the river and mountains pretty cool actually.
Me being a poorly lady.Me being a poorly lady.Me being a poorly lady.

Have you seen that toilet?
We headed straight out to investigate and to find out about "Tubing" we got chatting to a few people along the way and most told us not to bother with tubes because the water levels are low so you can swim and save a lot of money and we checked out the price it was 55.000kip each then 60.000 deposit which you get back if you take your tube back before 6pm. People also said you never get back before 6pm so you dont get it back and people steal the tubes so we have decided its not worth the hastle. I should prob explain tubing well it's basically what it appears to be you get a rubber ring to float down the Nam Song river and there's lot's of makeshift bars to stop at along the way. The river levels are low so it take's 2hrs and you have been drinking all day so im thinking it may not be the best idea but we will see after tomorrow. Headed out to "Bucket bar" for a night of entertainment and it was nothing I've ever seen before. Everyone was just mortal drunk just completely off their faces it was
Nong Khiaw BridgeNong Khiaw BridgeNong Khiaw Bridge

Slash and Burn behind
hard to know where to look without bursting out laughing. There were people dancing around in their underwear and still half there clothes hanging off them "attractive" not! There were 2 guys who supplied us with our main entertainment for the evening No.1 The dancer who had a shirt and boxers on never opened his eyes as he boogied on the dance floor clearly the guy in the family who would carry the title "uncle knob head" No.2 the player. This guy was trying to get it on with about 4 girls who were equaly as drunk. He was leaning in giving her the slurred chat up lines only another drunken person could translate then he stumbled and she wondered over for a drink he stables himself and grabs the nearest girl to him and slurred in her ear. This carried on for a while but I think he thought he was grabbing the same girl each time. The next thing he did was go to the toilet with the closest pair of shoes he could find which happened to be "gold pointed ballet shoes" Lets just say one of them came back a shade darker. Steve got some funny beer pics but dropped his bottle FULL gutted I actually thought he was going to cry. We couldn't bare the pain from all the laughing any longer so we called it a night and headed back to pick up a yummy sandwhich supper on the way.

Friday 13th March
Due to our entertaining evening we didn't surface in time for tubing today lucky because Steve had a bad bellie again. We had a wander into town and bumped into a couple we met breifly in Vientiane Howard and Nicky. They had bumped into a friend from home his name was Pete. We ended up chatting for most of the afternoon before arranging to meet up tomorrow at mid-day for a day of tubing Im excited! Headed out for food and the portions here are huge even steve Struggled but managed of course.

Saturday 14th March
Up and go to shower but there's no electric the whole village is out and won't be back on until 4pm-so they say. Met everyone at 12 and grabbed a tuk tuk to the first bar NO music we hadn't thought of that bummer! We got drinks and the bar began to fill
Time for a dip atTime for a dip atTime for a dip at

Kuang Si Falls
up so the atmosthere was cool and the bonus was we could hear each other so got to know each other without the usual shouting. There was zip swing and it was all decked areas to lounge on. The drinks were a little more expensive than we had expected so I drank beer most of the day. We moved as the bars got busier so the boys could jump off the swings at each bar without queing for ages. I didn't have a go on a swing basically because im to young to die but you look around and people are limping or bruised because if you fall wrong or hit the rocks well thats obvious what will happen and ther's been a few bad accidents but the air ambulance won't come get you from Vang Vieng due to there being too many accidents whilst tubing (as you have to go to Bangkok for anything serious) Luckily a few of us weren't doing the swings so I didn't feel like a boring loser. By this point a guy called Terry had come over and started chatting to Pete and he was a bit crazy then he told Pete this which
Natural JacuzziNatural JacuzziNatural Jacuzzi

Kuang Si Falls
we all found rather amusing "Im going to swing from my feet so people will watch then come talk to me because they will think I'v got interesting storys to tell" then off he went and did it he was amusing and it worked people came over and talked to him. You get some crazy people that's for sure. By the end of the day the temperature had dropped and the last bar was welcoming with it's huge fire. After a shower we later met up with everyone for food not drinks as we had all gone past it and were headed back tomorrow when there will hopefully be music and fingers crossed sunshine!

Sunday 15th March
Met everyone at mid-day and headed to the river. I had my bottle of vodka hidden in my water bottle as yesterday the drinks were expensive and weak! We were earlier today so it took a while longer to busy up but it sure did in the end. It was a good day and I got tipsy on my vodka shakes as they where only 5000 kip (41p) there was no way I was going to drink the bottle to myself (because I'd prob die) so some of the girls joined me but by the 4th bar we had lost it. It actualy seemed colder today which was a shame but we dived in the mud bath thing anyway and I got completely attacked so I retaliated with force and nearly blinded Howard but luckily he was ok. Nearly turned into an Ice cube whilst washing it off in the river so the fire was sooooo welcome. Met up again for dinner as Nicky and Howard leave tomorrow just glad we met some really cool people to tube with as it makes all the difference.

Monday 16th March
Got push bikes today after all that drinking excercise is needed. We went to the cave's and it was a 6km ride over a dirt track covered in large rock's I nearly went over the handle bars a few times. We were charged to cross the bridge than they charged to get into the cave's then extras for lights and guides so we didn't pay it so the ride was pointless but luckily the scenery was good so we weren't too disappointed. We happened to bump into Pete later and he mentioned that it was St Patrick's day tomorrow so we have arranged to stay another day and go tubing but we have to recruit people all day but Danni and Mike are still here so I imagine they will be recruited by Pete at some point. We may or may not escape this place there are people with writing on their backs saying "106 days tubing" That will be us if we're not careful (luckily we're not that sad) Had an amazing meal of steamed veg and boiled rice just the change I needed from fried!

Tuesday 17th March
Good day tubing again and got very drunk. Day started of nearly fatal as we left the first bar the whole decking dropped beneath our feet so we all moved pretty sharpish onto the secure area. The bar man was then sent over to test see if it was ok. He did this by jumping up and down on it before declairing it "safe" Im not sure if that was the best part or the fact that everyone piled back onto it as if nothing had happened one lucky escape and they're gagging for disaster. Later I lost my beautiful ring in the struggle to get to the other side where our next bar was so that was a little gutting it took Steve 30min to get me out of the water as I just sat on a rock crying im not even a drunk cryer I was just really upset but the drinking prob helped. We also had our water proof camera stolen off the bag which was annoying but I did get my priorities straight and held onto my vodka all day but it must have been leaking as I was the only one drinking it and it was nearly all gone hum curious! Decided to stay again tomorrow but NOT tubing just to chill and recover before moving on.

Wednesday 18th March
Complete chillout x

Thursday 19th March
Headed to Luang Prubang and the journey was so windy im glad I wasn't hung over. We arrived at the bus station 9am and where told the bus was "full" but we could pay more and get the mini bus which we ended up doing and to be honest im glad because it wasn't pleasant journey and would have taken longer on a local bus. Arrived 6hrs later 3:30 and found the hostels to be expensive so settled for one at 70.000kip (approx 6 pound) but the shower was broken so we moved to a shared bathroom at 60.000 (approx 5 pounds) Later we headed out to the market where the road is closed and stalls line the street's. Mainly all the same stuff and the place is full of "package tourists" which makes us look tight because we barter and kind of know what things are worth from travelling around the tourists pay over the odds for things so we didn't bother looking too much. We headed to the food stalls and settled on a veggie buffet for 5000 ( approx 40p) It was ok cold but I didn't eat much anyway. Early night.

Friday 20th March
Oh an eventful morning. Rudely awaken before 7am by cheerful builders singing, drilling and hammering so by 8am Steve was out hunting for new accommodation. We packed in a rush and made the decision that we weren't going to pay due to us asking for a quiet room which clearly wasn't the case. We were then chased up the street by an angry hostel owner which caused a little bit of a scene. A few locals came over and travellers as Steve argued but we're not paying as we hadn't been told the truth. You just get sick of being taken for a ride. He threatened the Police which we told him to go ahead as we knew his hostel wasn't legit due to him not taking any information ie. passport number from us. I was very scared as we darted down back streets. We were like fugitives on the run. I was expecting some young locals to come after us on their bikes and we couldn't really hide very welll with our bright yellow and orange covered bags. After walking around the whole block we came to a hostel owned by a really nice couple and reasonable at 80,000kip (6.60 pound) with shared bathroom and toilet but the ropom seems really nice and clean. Before heading back out we disguised ourselves with new clothes, hats and sunglasses so we could check out prices for trips and buses. Tourist Information board was helpful unlike the clueless girl behind the counter. She may as well have been a mannequin. We decided to leave tomorrow due to it being too touristy here. We may as well be in Blackpool. We tried to do the sights shich consisted of a few temples. First one was Phu Si the temple on the slopes but after climbing part way up the 360 steps to the top there was a pay booth which annoyed us as we assumed it was free. So we decided out of principle we weren't going to pay due to us wanting to do a few and it would get expensive. So we decided to take a nice walk up the banks of the Mekong River where we saw a few monks bathing and doing their laundry. Later we skyped before heading out to our usual veggie buffet.

Saturday 21st March
Up early after a not so good sleep yet again due to our chatty neighbours and thin walls. Luckily, Mo, the owner of the hostel knocked and told them to keep it down as they're quite strict if curfews from midnight. So this morning we made sure we talked a lot. I used my hairdryer and we dropped a few things at the wall. We then headed to grab a sandwich and tuk tuk. We reminded the driver it was the North station and not the usual tourist South station that we wanted as that could have been a little bit expensive not to mention time consuming. He tried to charge us more but he knew he was on to a no win and settled for the previously agreed price. The bus was in the station, old school style. 35,000kip (2.90 pounds) and takes four hours. The journey went OK, bumpy as hell but we actually managed to sleep as we had the whole back row to ourselves. We pulled into a dusty town around 1230 so I jumped off to use the toilet. Next minute though they're unloading our bags and are telling Steve we're here. Here being Nong Khiaw. So as the bus drives off I go over and check he got all the things off the bus and his reply was no. So there goes my favourite black cardigan and a bag full of food. So as you can imagine I was a little bit annoyed especially later when I remembered the guy who worked for the bus company saw me leave my stuff on the seat so he intentionally let the driver leave with it. I must admit later when we were walking around there were little shops full of second-hand clothes so I'm sure that's where my cardigan will end up in a few days. To find the hostels we were told to head over the bridge past the big sign saying, "Welcome to Muang Ngoi" At this point we're really not sure where the hell we are but as we find the hostels recommended by Lonely Planet we realise we are in Nong Khiaw and they must have bought the welcome signs at a discount price. Hey, we're in Laos. Anything can happen. We settled on a hostel overlooking the Nam Ou river with our own little squatter toilet They have no real toilets here - or sinks for that matter. there was hot water though - wel, a dribble as I later discovered. Chilled out on our little terrace watching the boats go by, taking in the amazing backdrop of limestone karsts. Later we ate at a yummy vegetable curry restaurant and listened to the cicadas and other unusual noises in our forest setting hut. Oh bliss.

Sunday 22nd March
OK there's no place to get money or change Travellers Cheques so we're on a tight budget of 150,000kip (12.40 pounds) a day. We later discovered this budget fits pretty well here if you don't drink alcohol or eat in our guesthouse restaurant. So today we checked out the boats for our next destination Muang Ngoi Neua as it's not accessible by road. It all seemed straightforward so we leave on the 11 o' clock tomorrow. Looking forward to it as there's no electricity except for from 6 till 10 there. We headed off for our walk to the caves Tham Pa Tok. The caves are where the villagers hid during heavy shelling during the 2nd Indochina War (that's the Vietnam War to you and me). It was a nice stroll past locals houses, children playing and adults cooking in pots over mini fires at the side of the road. You just got the real feel of traditional Laos and not touristville. We reached the caves only 5000kip (41p) each. This even included your guide. We got some local kids who didn't speak a word of English except for, "No. Is danger," which basically meant we had to walk where they took us. The caves overall are pretty cool except for the bamboo ladder where I climbed down and pulled the muscle in my leg due to the steps being really far apart so I struggled to get back up the ladder. I think Steve was getting excited about the fact that I might get stuck down there so he could spend my half od the budget on beer. Oh, I saw his brain ticking!!! We then walked through rice paddy fields backdropped by the limestone rocks to the next cave which was if you believe the tourist signs, a bank. It was just a hole, nothing else but the walk was worth it. We headed back into town. Along the way I began to feel a little bit ill. I thought it might be dehydration so got drinking some water. We walked past the locals at bathtime which was them stood at the side of the road using the clean water flowing down from the pipes and doing their daily clothes washing. It was as if it was a village occassion and the atmosphere was pretty bubbly. We took a closer look off the main road at the back of the houses where we saw penned pigs, chickens etc. and the good old satellite dish that they all seem to have. When we got back to our hut I was feeling so bad I had to lie down and things went from bad to worse. Lets put it this way - it's not a good time to have a squatter! Steve was up with me most of the night and I'm trying to break a record clearly as he was keeping count and got up to 60 in less than 15 hours. Trust me, I'll have legs like Arnold Schwarzenegger if this carries on. Damn you squatters!!!

Monday 23rd March
Poorly all day. Not sure if I feel like I'm going to die, or if I actually want to. By early afternoon I was still thrashing those records and was way over 100. We just lost count. My legs are killing me and that pulled muscle doesn't help. I'm just really miserable. Not feeling Amazing but Steve's looking after me and due to me not using any budget he got his beer. I'm beginning to think he may have planned this.

Tuesday 24th March
No improvement whatsoever. Even started having crazy dreams and woke up this morning wet through - attractive, I think not! I actually smelled worse than Steve and you could fry eggs on my head. So a shower may make me feel better but who am I kidding. It didn't. So hungry we decided to grab a simple sandwich but I may as well have missed out the middleman, but hey, at least I enjoyed eating it. And just think o all those calories saved. I can't imagine what I look like hovering around with my muscle strained leg adding to my squatting strained legs. I can hardly climb a flight of stairs. I'm not feeling quite as sick as I did so hopefully I'm on the mend. Gutted we didn't make it to Muang Ngoi Neua so we're hoping to brave the three hour bus ride back to Luang Prabang and real toilets so fingers crossed or it could get messy!

Wednesday 25th March
Travelled to Luang Prabang and it wasn't enjoyable. Arrived at the bus station at 10am to buy tickets. Bus leaves at 11. By 1130 still no bus so Steve sees what's going on and they tell us this sawngthaew is for us. Ha ha haaaaaa. Not only is it not the bus they told us it would be but it's the most uncomfortable mode of transport ever and bursting with locals. They turf off two locals so we could sit down and practice with my elbows came in a little handy as I cleared my space whilst Steve and two others were given plastic chairs in the aisle. So basically this 14 seater was now occupying 24 of us. It was a little snug to say the least. Finally at 12 we set off and if I didn't think it was a bad idea already my belly was telling me I'd made a mistake. We made no toilet stops and then we got lumbered with "Little Miss Freak" from Oxford whose mummy and daddy were clearly paying for the trip (I hate spoilt brats) and when asked where are you from, she replied, Laos. After spending a week and a half she has decided she wants to marry a local and settle in Laos. Honestly, some people. We arrived and ran straight to our guesthouse in the nick of time. It goes on the list of one of the worst journeys. Attempted to venture out to the internet cafe but I didn't last long so we went back to the hostel where my belly kept me captive for the rest of the evening.

Thursday 26th March
Hoping to leave tomorrow but I'm still trying to negotiate with the other end and so far it's winning! Haven't eaten anything to be safe as we're off to the waterfalls. A half day trip leaving at 1130, back at four. It was 50,000kip (4.15 pounds) each and more than worth it. We got two and a half hours at the falls. At first we watched the bears as they were let out for feeding time before carrying on and being greeted by turquoise waters and the sounds of flowing water. There were lots of swimming holes for you to spend your time but we decided to do a one billion stepped walk where I nearly died as I kept going dizzy and feeling sick. Basically because I have nothing inside of me left. Walk was supposed to lead to a cave of butterflies but we reached the top and a sign read 3km from this point. We wouldn't have time so we came back down. Steve had a go on the rope swings and I had a cool off in the waterfall. It was bliss after our climb. Would be nice to have had longer there but I'm really glad we didi it. Decided to stay tomorrow as Steve belly is also playing silly. The latest we can leave for Thailand is Sunday so we should be fine.

Friday 27th March
Up late after a bad night. Not looking forward to travelling tomorrow but there's no sign of me getting better any time soon.

Saturday 28th March
Someone clearly doesn't want us to leave Laos but I will leave you hanging in suspense and tell you about that in our next blog.

Hope you enjoyed the blog. Sorry if some people thought it was a little bit personal with regard the squatters but it's the kind of thing that really happens. That's travelling!!! It's actually March 31st today and I'm feeling a little bit better but it's still going strong so hopefully I'll still be alive to do my Thailand blogs. Take care and we'll be back with more exciting adventures later.

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