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Published: November 11th 2005
Pictures never do it justice
Another bus trip awaits us. We have caught more buses on this holiday than I care to count. A foggy morning provides a beautiful sight as it crawls gently over the tips of the Vang Vieng mountains. It becomes obvious very quickly that the following 7 hours on the bus may well be very enjoyable. The mist engulfs the tall, staggering mountains. The sight off the long fall cliff is formidable. The constant slowing down to carefully plot a course over the fallen rock and debris is a reminder how dangerous driving on these wet mountains can be. We stop at a small restaurant for "lunch" (at 10:30am??? go figure) As I sit there trying to eat while ignoring the chickens and the cow, I think to myself "this is definatley the most bucolic restaurant I have eaten at" It is somewhat off-putting trying to eat while there are chickens roaming the floor and a cow staring at you. It was a bit of a shame when I tried to order the fried sewer but they didn't have any. Mike (yes our old Canadian friend just happened to be catching that same bus as us) was conferring to me how he
Hmmm... Fried Sewer!
Just so you don't think I'm lying
dreaded the use of the squat toilets (I just had the experience for real myself) and I concurred. One thing, if the only thing, I missed from home was westerner toilets. As I claimed before, Laos is a genuine country and they don't cater much for westerners in that respect.
We wound our way through the mountains and villages on our way to Luang Prabang. We met a couple of girls from Israel, Camit and Moran. Israelis are surprisingly not a rare sight around here. They have been travelling around and we thought it sad that there are so many countries that they can't visit due to thier nationality. It's hard for us to understand when Australians can go pretty much anywhere. It's a shame when they, like a lot of young people, have a desire to travel and live a normal life but politics gets in the way.
We finally arrive at Luang Prabang in the mid afternoon and bargain for a ride into town. After we find a suitable guesthouse, we hit the main street and get some dinner. We were walking past an Indian Restaurant when we bumped into Mike... again! We had dinner with
The streets of Luang Prabang
Note the monk: There so many monks walking around, you can't go 1 minute without seeing one.
him and then decided to sample the towns nightlife. All 3 bars of it. The first place we went was the slightly famous Hive Bar. Pretty good but just like a club back home. The second we went to was one just across from the Hive. It was pretty interesting. The staff were exceptionally friendly and the drinks were a little more ornate than we were used to. We put away a few very quaffable Beerlao's and a round or two of strange cocktails when Rohan came to a startling conclusion. This was a gay bar! No women, too many men cuddling and the staff way too friendly, even for the Lao people. We decided to finnish up and move on.
The next morning we thought we would check out one of the highlights of Luang Prabang, That Chomsi. We hiked up an abundance of stairs, we make the top and have a great view of the whole town and right down to the Mekong River. The temple itself was ok... as we always say, "It's just not Angkor"
The next day, we get up early to go on our arranged trip, kayaing down the Nam Khan River.
Rohan and Mike
I don't think I have ever run into one person more times than this guy... lucky he is cool
After some beautiful scenery, 1 1/2 hours of paddling and a spontanious race with some local kids on a wooden long boat, we reach the Tad Sae Waterfalls. The beauty of these falls is not for its height but for its unusual path through a myriad of trees. It was probably the nicest area I have been on this trip. There were a few areas to swim but the water was freezing so it required a bit of "jump straight in" We had a couple of hours there and I wish we had more. We began the 3 hour paddle to our destination. We eventually got to the rapids I was looking foreward to. Helmets and Life vests securely fastened, we plot our course throught the raging waters. Or not! These were pretty dissapointing rapids.
We were advised against it, but we did it anyway. We took a boat to the Pak Ou Caves. After a somewhat hazardous journey up the Mekong River, we arrive. 10000 kip changes hands and we ascend the stairs. A tiny little cave and hundereds of little buddas greet us. This was far from trancsendent. Maybe we have seen so much great stuff on
A temple in Laos, never would've thought...
this trip that anything not as grand as Angkor Wat seems insipid. Either way, we left rather soon and headed back for Luang Prabang.
3 main sights I wanted to see on this trip were The Temples of Angkor, Halong Bay and Luang Prabang. The first impressed, the second was great but Luang Prabang wasn't quite what I had hoped for. Granted, the french colonial architecture and the laid back atmosphere is great but I guess I was after soemthing different. That will teach me for having pre-conceptions. We are flying to Phuket tommorrow and I am somewhat sad to be leaving. Laos has been such a wonderful country and I would love to come back. I am also excited about going to Phuket. 5 days of doing very little should be a nice little rest before heading back home to the rat-race of work and the city.
Thanks to those who have sent comments, I love reading them, keep 'em coming. Next blog should be from Thailand.
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