Luang Prabang


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October 19th 2010
Published: August 1st 2012
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Bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
19th Oct: Got up at nine and had a shower, while Lobke went to sort out some bus tickets for us to get to Luang Prabang. She got back and told us we were getting picked up in 10 minutes from the guesthouse office. So we quickly shoved our stuff in our backpacks. We got taken to the bus station, where our bus was meant to leave at 10, but we didn't leave until after 11 as we had to wait for another bus to arrive so the passengers could get on our bus.

The bus journey itself was a nightmare and we didn't get into Luang Prabang until after seven that evening. Our bus broke down at one point, but luckily the driver and some people in the town were able to get us going again (thank goodness we had broken down in civilisation). Then later on we got stuck for an hour and a half as two cars had crashed into each other and were blocking the road. One car was a Chinese rally car and they were driving through China and Laos. Luckily no one was injured, but one or both of the cars could have went
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Bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
over the edge and they would of been goners. The drive was very windy, up and down mountains, but the scenery was stunning.

Arrived at the bus station in Luang Prabang and got a shared tuk-tuk into the centre. We were dropped off by the market and we went on a trek to find some accommodation. Accommodation in Luang Prabang is quite expensive, and it didn't help that we chose to stay in the Lonely Planet's top pick, therefore they had inflated their prices. But the room was nice and it was in a good spot near the river, plus today had been a nightmare, so we just wanted to get something sorted. We headed out for dinner, had chicken laap, yummy. Then we found this gorgeous little bar, and sat outside drinking a few beers. Expensive but worth it.

20th Oct: Had a bit of a lie-in and then went to Joma bakery for breakfast. It was lovely to sit outside in the sun, eating delicious food, despite the expense. They had western prices. We went for a wander along by the river and then we decided we would go and see the waterfalls by boat as
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Bus Ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
opposed to tuk-tuk.

We went down to the riverside and hired a boat. Our first stop was the floating petrol station to fill up. It was surreal! It was a normal boat with two petrol pumps on it, like you would find at the garage. The boat ride was really nice. It was pretty peaceful on the river and the scenery was gorgeous. We then got dropped in the middle of nowhere and had to take a tuk-tuk to the waterfalls. There was a bit of an incident as we thought a price had been agreed on, and the bloke thought a different had been settled. We weren't backing down so just left the guy with the amount we thought to be correct and left. It would be a nice change for us to rip someone off, rather than the other way round.

It was a short walk from the car park to Kuang Si waterfalls. The park area that the waterfalls are in is really pretty. The waterfalls were really nice, a heck of a lot better than the ones I had seen in Laos so far. There was the main waterfall, which was pretty big, and
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Bus ride form Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
we got some good photos around there. We went on a little hike up the hill to the top, too. There were also lots of smaller waterfalls, with big pools. The water was a beautiful blue colour. The water was quite cool, so I didn't go for a swim, only dipped my feet in, but Bas did. There was also a centre for rescued bears there so we saw some bears. Went back to the parking lot and shared a tuk-tuk back with Germans. We stopped at a traditional Hmong village on the way back. Me and Lobke bought some bracelets from the kids, and I gave one my bottle of water. Bas played football with the lads from the village.

We came back to town and got changed before heading out for dinner. We went to one of the oldest restaurants in Luang Prabang. It was really nice. After dinner we headed down to the river to have a few drinks.

21st Oct: Another lazy morning, well not quite. We were up at 5 am and out by 5:30 to watch the monks receive alms from the people in town. It was quite nice to see, although
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Bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
not as good as I expected. There was a lovely early morning market on though, as we were walking back to the guesthouse. It was really interesting to see all the people with all their wares laid out on the ground.

Went back to bed at seven and slept until almost 11. We went back to Joma bakery for breakfast and planned our route for the day. We decided to hire a tuk-tuk to take us to Pau Ou caves. We waited at the tuk-tuk stop on the corner and tried to find some other people who wanted to go to the caves so we could split the tuk-tuk cost. However the caves aren't as the waterfalls and we couldn't find anyone else to share with. The drive to the caves took about an hour in the tuk-tuk, a lot further than I had imagined. Then we walked through the little village, which was cute, to the water and hired a boat to take us across the river. The boat ride was really short, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Pau Ou caves, well the first one is filled with images and statues of Buddha. It was a really
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This added at least an hour on to our journey.
nice place. Apparently the locals come over once a year and clean it and mend any broken statues. The second cave was higher up and the walk was a bit tough in the heat. The second cave was really dark and you couldn't really see that much. On the walk back down we saw a huge centipede and a tour guide killed it, as they are poisonous.

Took the boat back over and then took the tuk-tuk back to town, picking up a couple of locals on the way. Bas and Lobke went off to do their cookery course that they had signed up for and I went for pizza for dinner as I was really craving one. Then went for a beer down by the river on me bill.

22nd Oct: Moved guesthouses this morning as the one I'm staying in is too expensive really. So I moved a couple of streets over into a hostel and got a dorm bed for about quarter of the price. After changing hostels I went and filled out my Vietnam visa form at a travel agency and handed over my passport. Decided to go for the long processing time as it was the cheapest, and I can mooch about Luang Prabang for a few days to save some money. I bumped into Bas and Lobke at the travel agents as they were booking their flight down to Pakse. Lobke was pretty nervous about it, and I don't blame her as they have to fly Lao Airlines and they have a pretty dubious safety record.

We went to the Scandinavian bakery for breakfast and ended up with far too much food. I've got a bit of a dodgy belly. The boat race festival was happening on the other side of the river so we decided to go over and have a look about. So we got a boat to take us over to the other side. It was heaving! We watched the boat races for a bit, but it was too hot standing around in the sun, so we went in search of some liquid refreshment. We ended up in a big beer garden. I was sticking to pepsi at first, due to my dicky belly.

Some guy came over to chat to us, but I couldn't really be arsed. Anyway Bas went over to them to ask what they were eating (buffalo and chicken's feet) and we ended up joining them. They were really nice and friendly, but couldn't speak much English. September (that was the English translation of his name) had taken a bit of a shine to me and kept asking me to dance, which I kept declining. I don't do dancing unless I'm very drunk. I ended up drinking though. It was weird because they toast each time you take a sip and then your cup gets refilled with more beer and ice. Plus you have to buy bags of ice, bit of a con.

We left the island at around 6:30 and went in search of some food. We ended up in a place called Coconut Garden, because they made me pick. It was quite posh and a bit on the expensive side, but it was our last night together and we wanted somewhere nice. The food was gorgeous, I had steamed fish that was stuffed with pork and we all managed a dessert, too. We went down to the river for a final beer and to say our goodbyes.

23rd Oct: Lazy day today. Went back to the Scandinavian bakery for breakfast. Hopefully my stomach is back to normal now, as it's been a bit dodgy. Went for a wander up the big hill in the middle of town. It was quite a hike up the hill and I had to sto pa few times as I was knackered. Phou Si, as the hill is called had a monastery at the top and there was loads of young monks. Some of them looked about 10 or 12. The views of the side of town where I am staying weren't very good as there were loads of trees in the way. However the views on the other side were really nice and you could see the whole town. I watched a plane, Lao airlines, coming in to land at the airport.

I headed back to the hostel and snoozed the afternoon away. I woke up around 5 and went for an ice coffee to help wake me up. I was sitting outside the hostel, chatting to a couple of girls I'm sharing with, when who should appear but Ian! His mate Josh, was staying at my hostel. So Ian and I had a good catch-up on what we had been doing since parting company in Pakse. Then Ian, Josh, and I went for a wander around town, followed by dinner by the river. Ian was pretty hungover, so he left soon after dinner and Josh and I went for a drink at a bar in town before curfew.

24th Oct: Woke up early as two of the lasses were leaving. Got up around half nine and went for a fruit shake and a wander before stopping for some breakfast at a baguette stall. I still felt really sleepy so I went back to the hostel for a snooze and read up a bit on Vietnam.

Around 2 o'clock I headed out to the Royal Palace. The palace was built during the French colonial period, in 1904, for King Sisaveng Vong and his family. The site was chosen as people could arrive by river, directly in below the palace. When the commies overthrew the monarchy and sent the royals off to re-education camps in 1975, they turned the palace into the national museum. The palace was pretty and the museum was okay, but not really worth the entrance fee. After that I did some more wandering around and decided to have a massage. I went to a place down by the river and opted for the head and shoulders massage. I wish I hadn't bothered. The guy was pretty brutal, pummelling and beating my head, and yanking on my hair. Not the relaxing time I had imagined, also he barely spent any time massaging my shoulders, but c'est la vie.

I went and got some cake and a coffee shake from one of the stalls and took them back to the hostel to eat. I sat outside in the sun, for a while, catching up on my diary as I was very far behind. I could hear loads of noise and commotion going on, so when I went for dinner I investigated. I walked to the top of the street and there was a huge procession going on. It was a loads of boats being carted through the streets and people young and old accompanying them. There was even one guy breathing fire. It was a cool sight to see, so I followed the procession through the streets until it ended at a monastery. Then it was off for dinner and I had an alcohol free night, something that hasn't happened very often in this trip.

25th Oct: I met up with Ian around 9, and we went for some breakfast. We had a wander around the day market, as Ian wanted something for his camera and he was trying to improvise with sunglasses lenses. The market was mostly filled with crap. Nevermind. Then it was off to a nice cafe, to have a coffee and escape the heat.

We parted company and I went home for a snooze, I love napping, while Ian visited the waterfalls that I had already been to. We met up in the evening and went for dinner and some Beer Laos of course. We went to a nice place along the river. I was gutted because Ian had lost the pack of cards that we had used on Don Det. But he went and bought some dominoes, so we played them instead. Proper rock n roll!

26th Oct: A total lazy day doing absolutely nothing. Had a stroll around town and a snooze, the usual. I was meant to meet up with Ian that night for dinner and drinks, as he was heading back to Thailand the following day. But alas there was a mix up and it didn't happen. I went to our usual bar, but didn't see him there either. It would of been nice to say bye, but it was not meant to be. Back to the lonely dorm room.

27th Oct: Up pretty early. Went along to the Swedish Bakery for breakfast. Had an incident with their toilet. Sorry! Had another lazy day, wandering around town and reading my book. Decided to go to the herbal sauna around 4. It was hot! I could only last for about 5 minutes at a time in there before having to come out for a breather and a drink of tea. After the sauna I had a Lao style massage. The massage was really good. Went and got my passport back and I was right it was ready yesterday, so I could of left today. I knew the bloke had told me the wrong date. Ended up going for dinner with a Korean bloke I met at the hostel, then I went to do some last minute souvenir shopping. Back at the hostel, I packed up my stuff, still had the dorm to myself. Saw the biggest cockroach of my life and trying to soo to out of the door resulted in it going under one of the bunkbeds. Thank God I'm leaving!


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