After returning from the Gibbon Experience in Huay Xai we took a nightbus from there to Luang Prabang. We got there early morning after an okayish journey and found a nice guesthouse. Our room was big and we had a lovely balcony.
Luang Prabang is a really pretty town with loads of nice restaurants and cafes. It's on the Mekong and you can walk down to the shore (no sunbathing!).
We wondered around town, got splashed with water (run up to the New Year's celebrations) and found a lovely little cafe which does home made ice cream. They also have nice wine and delicious looking salads. We decided to go there for dinner, as especially I have been craving salads after 3.5 months in Asia.
This little cafe was quite a walk away from our guesthouse. By the time we arrived there in the evening, we were starving and it was closed. We decided to go to the nice looking Italian place next door and have a salad there. We had to jugs of wine and after ordering our salads we were told (about 20 mins later) that they only have 2 salads. We had two salads and
two jugs of wine between the 3 of us which wasn't the best idea. After dinner we had a look around the nightmarket and due to the lack of food but plenty of wine, my friend's haggling skills went out of the window. Instead of haggling for less money she offered to pay more to the confusion of the shop keeper.
As we were still starving we had some food from the food market there which was nice.
We left the next day to travel to Vang Vieng for tubing. I don't think I need to explain what tubing in Vang Vieng is.... We arrived in Vang Vieng early afternoon and checked into a lovely bungalow resort at the edge of town and sorted out our tubing outfits.
The next day we went tubing. It wasn't as busy as I expected it to be and the river was a muddy colour rather than the green colour it usually is but we still had fun. We started quite early and as soon as we arrived in a bar other people joined us. The river was quite low and therefore most of the slides, all of the jumps and
swings were either closed or removed. This is a good thing as you always get drunk people jumping into the river ignoring the various warning signs that it is dangerous because of the lack of water. We quite often got stuck on rocks with our tubes.
At one of the bars I must have forgotten to close my waterproof pouch and this resulted in my camera being drowned. My friend told me to put it into rice to dry it out. This would have been a good idea in principal but I zoomed my lense out to the max and put it in the rice like that. My camera shuts down automatically after 2 mins and in the morning I had rice corns stuck in my lense. The camera has since recovered but the flash is gone.
We intially said we were going to do a second day of tubing but it rained the next day and so we decided to continue to Vientiene. We arrived there late at night and only had time to find a guesthouse (in the pouring rain) and dinner. Once we got back to the guesthouse we found our room half flooded. The
room was more like a prison cell and the name of the guesthouse 'Relax and Dream Away' was a bit misleading.
Our main reason for stopping in Vientiene was to arrange onward travel to the Kong Lo Cave.
I can't remember if the bus we took to the Kong Lo cave was a local or a VIP bus in any event we got picked up far too early from our guesthouse and had to hang around the hot bus station for almost 2 hours. Laos people started to travel home to their families for the New Year celebrations and it was super busy. Our bus was full to the rim with the dreaded plastic chiars in the aisle and motorbikes etc on the roof. The toilet was used as a storage room for all sorts of fruits and vegetables (yum) and people carried everything from fans, over laminating machines to barbed wire fences.
After a lot of stopping to drop people off and pick people up we arrived at Kong Lo Village and checked into the Eco Lodge which is run by a very friendly family. The rooms are spotless, cheap and the food is good. The
village is small and very quiet and there isn't much going on but they had a local fun fair for the New Year's celebrations. We went there after dinner. There was a lot of gambeling going on and we were taught how to dance to local pop in Laos style (loads of funny hand movements).
We visited the Kong Lo cave early the next morning. The Kong Lo cave is stunning and a must see!!!! You drive into the cave on a boat and it's really dark in there. The boat drivers have a torch but it's a good idea to take one anyway. The cave is about 7km long and the round trip takes about 2.5 hours. Quite often we had to get out of the boat as we got stuck on rocks. It was an amazing experience and the scenery there is very beautiful.
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