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Published: June 13th 2006
Taking the bus from Vang Vieng was another slow haul through the mountains but the views from the cliff top roads were second to none. Clouds hung low in the tree-lined hills as we wound our way up and over the peaks. It was possible to see for miles around, and this twinned with a dose of the Beatles made for a relatively pleasant journey. Lucy on the other hand was not enjoying the trip as the musical entertainment from the bus' stereo was limited to playing heavy metal through crackling speakers, and the fact that the journey was making her stomach do somersaults. Although Laung Prabang is the former royal capital of Laos the place is tiny and easily navigated on foot. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the locality of the bus station as is the norm with towns in Asia, and we had to put on our best 'please don't rip the arse out of me' face when bartering for a lift. As there were lots of 'Falang' about paying tree times the price for a ride it took a while but we eventually jumped in the back of a truck with some Israeli lads and found
ourselves a ridiculously cheap, clean and friendly guest house. Every night there is a huge handycraft market on the main street selling everything from silk (ish) scarves to paper umbrellas. It provided Lucy with the perfect opportunity to indulge in her favorite pastime and afforded Dave the opportunity to winge like a child. Unfortunately there are no adult crech selling lager, which is definitely a gap in the market over here, as there seemed to be plenty of blokes locked in the same kind of endless boredom only possible when window shopping. Although pacing through David Dickinson's heaven is great for some, we did stumbled across a small cinema that for a couple of dollars lets you watch a DVD. The temptation to end the relentless bargain hunting was overwhelming and the 'cheap as chips' cinema and beer option was looking promising.
We booked ourselves on a mini bus for a day at the local waterfalls situated 30km out of town. We had been told to make the trip by several people and were not disappointed, as there are loads of small pools and lagoons to swim in, and the water providing a well needed cooling off from the
scorching temperatures. We first went for a hike to the top and after a lengthy climb and many comments that 'this had better be worth it' we reached the summit to find there was ankle deep water and the place we were trying to find was an agonising 50 feet below us. Hot and bothered we began the decent with determination to find the plunge pool beneath but failed miserably and so decided to cut our losses and head for the lagoons at the bottom for a swim. The colour of the water was a bright aqua blue and the rocks and trees looked almost fake as the surroundings were straight out of a movie. One of the pools gave the opportunity to jump off a small waterfall and off a rope-swing that Peter (a lad we met on the bus) managed to snap. The falls were an excellent day out, so much so that we went back again a couple of days later when the power and water supply were switched off due to maintenance. The lack of power was causing Dave some stress and worry as England were due to play their opening world cup match against Paraguay
that evening, but by the time we returned to the town the T.Vs were blearing and the fridges were again chilling Beer Laos. Sporting a dodgy fake England shirt bought from the local market for 3 dollars Dave was ready for the start of the campaign, but 20 minutes after kick off there was still no football to be seen, and after looking up and down the street for a venue to watch the match, we ran back to our guest house to try and watch it there. Upon arrival the owners were watching Nickelodeon with their son, and when we asked why the football was not on we were told that the King of Thailand was making a speech during his jubilee celebrations. The worlds longest reining Monarch was ensuring that there would be plenty of angry England fans but after his speech was finished normal service resumed and we got to see most of the game.
Our intended route was to get from Laung Prabang to Northern Thailand, and as there are no viable road links between these two places there were three options. 1. Take the two day slow boat and sit on a plank of
wood the whole time whilst being board out of our minds. 2. Get the fast boat and not be board through sheer terror. 3. The clear winner, to say b#$%cks to our budget and fly to Chaing Mai.
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