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Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng April 27th 2020

Laotian food is really something special, sure in most countries you could go out for dinner and a show. However, when you step into Laos, the Dinner is the show. Performance plays a big role in Laotian cuisine. You’ll likely find a spectacle in every Laotian market, from reckless rolled icecreams to expertly carved fruit, But there’s one show you simply can’t miss, and its performed by the Superheroes of Vangieng, The Sandwich Ladies. It really doesn’t take long to spot the Sandwhich ladies, Their stalls are everywhere around Vang Vieng. All with the same menu and prices, they stand ready from dusk to dawn behind a giant hotplate, the main stage for their creations. It’s a sandwich fairly similar to their own Laotian Bahn Mi called Khao Jee Pate, but customized to fit a pallet ... read more
A sandwich costs roughly 5 NZD
This wasn't my first burger of the night

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang January 21st 2020

At high tide the fish eat ants; at low tide the ants eat fish… ~ Lao Proverb HE SAID... Today we were travelling northeast, then east, then south from Pak Beng to Luang Prabang. After a restless night (thanks to the Happy Smoking and Happy Balloons on offer at a nearby bar that lured every young backpacker in the village), we woke early in preparation for our second day on the Mekong. It was 5:30am and still dark outside. We organised our packs and then headed down to BKC Villa’s dining area for breakfast. We enjoyed a selection of fresh fruit (mango, pineapple and dragon fruit), empanadas, omelettes, bread, pancakes, tea and orange cordial. It was a basic breakfast, but perfect for our long day ahead on the Mekong. Feeling suitably refreshed, we handed our packs ... read more
leaving pak beng
misty mekong morning
mekong river

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang January 21st 2020

A person’s stripes are inside; those of a tiger are outside… ~ Lao Proverb HE SAID... Today we were arriving in the calm and alluring township of Luang Prabang. After another full day on the Mekong in a long wooden slow boat (we’d pushed off the riverbank at Pak Beng about eight hours earlier), we arrived at a berthing area for slow boats just outside Luang Prabang in the early evening. We clambered onto the riverbank, struggled up a particularly steep set of stairs to the roadside and jumped into a waiting minibus – we were heading to Legend Hotel, our comfortable accommodation in Luang Prabang for the next three nights. In the lead up to this trip, I found time to read A Dragon Apparent – Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam by Norman Lewis. ... read more
wat ho pha bang
streets of luang prabang
morning market

Asia » Laos » West » Pakbeng January 20th 2020

One has to cross upstream, higher up, to come downstream properly… ~ Lao Proverb HE SAID... Today we were travelling southeast from Chiang Khong (Thailand) to Pak Beng(Laos). We woke early (5:30am) to catch the sunrise and prepare for an early morning border crossing into Laos. We headed down to the breakfast area of our guesthouse (which was located on the river bank) and settled at a long thin bar table overlooking the Mekong. We helped ourselves from the Bain Marie, piling our plates with stir-fried chicken, stir-fried pork, fried rice and fried eggs. I also enjoyed a small bowl of banana and yoghurt, which was very welcome – it was the first yoghurt I’d tried since arriving in Thailand. Unfortunately, the weak tea and orange cordial weren’t terribly appetising at 7am, and nor was the ... read more
breakfast with view of laos
mekong river (thailand)
our slow boat

Asia » Laos » West » Vientiane October 12th 2019

October 12 – I slept a little better last night with earplugs. Our guy on the megaphone or microphone was out again this morning until almost 7am, and construction (more demolition) was happening on the building next door well before 7am, but I didn’t notice most of it. Becky and I headed down for fried noodles and fried rice for breakfast, respectively, at 7:30 and back up at 8am to finish packing. I paid the hotel bill and we were down just before 9am to wait for the minivan to pick us up. When it didn’t show by 9:10, we asked at the desk. He asked if I bought the ticket at the hotel, I said yes, and he phoned them for me. At least he tried – his phone did not seem to be connected ... read more
View from hotel room in Vang Vieng
View from hotel room in Vang Vieng
Vientiane hotel

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng October 11th 2019

October 11 – Not such a great night of sleep last night. Becky and I both heard the dull thud of a slamming door several times last night, and Becky also had the pleasure of hearing someone throwing up at the same time. Somehow I missed that. Then at around 5:30 someone outside was on a megaphone talking, no idea what about, until 6:50am. Damn, that was annoying. We got up well before it ended, because what else could you do? Before breakfast, we had a problem with the safe and couldn’t get it open. I think it just wasn’t working for Becky. I went downstairs, told the front desk girl, she woke up the guy who woke better English, and he came up with me to see. It opened when I tried, but since he ... read more
Heading towards the caves
Nam Song River
Reclining Buddha in Elephant Cave

Asia » Laos » West » Vang Vieng October 9th 2019

October 9 – Our alarms were set for 5am today so we could get to the giving of alms for the monks that takes place between 5:30-6:00am every day. The monks leave the monastery and collect rice from people on the streets that have come to donate, which is traditional in Buddhist culture. We did not participate but watched from the other side of the road to be respectful, unlike some tourists who were right up in their faces taking pictures in shorts and tank tops. We met a med student from a nearby village called Villi who wanted to practice his English with us. He was very nice and showed us a video with a light festival and boat race that is happening next week. It looks very cool but we won’t be able to ... read more
Giving of alms
Giving of alms
Giving of alms

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang October 8th 2019

October 8 – Sleeping pretty well, if not early enough. I had fried eggs for breakfast today with banana juice. The minibus for our day tour picked us up at 8:30, along with a retired Irish teaching couple from Cork and their daughter who also teaches in Hanoi. We were randomly switched to a different bus and given our official ticket, hand-written on what seemed to be a scrap of paper. Our tour guide was called Thin, and our first stop was Whisky Village, unofficially (I think) named due to the 50 proof rice whisky they produce. We had a small demonstration of the process and they had whiskey on sale, including some stuff “just for men” that had dead snakes and scorpions in it. We had some time to walk around the village before getting ... read more
Breakfast
Breakfast with Becky
Whisky making demo

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang October 6th 2019

Saturday October 5 – I had a leisurely morning with Jeroen as my clothes were already packed. I did make a few changes, but overall it was fine. The biggest problem I had was not being able to find my residence permit for Switzerland, which I would need to get back home again. I know I had it in August, but I quickly realized the one I’d been carrying in my wallet was the one that had expired in August. I looked EVERYWHERE last night and was about to start again in the morning, when Jeroen said to give him my wallets to have a look. Of course, he found it in my travel wallet where I had already looked several times. After that, stress levels decreased. I didn’t have to leave until about 11:30am, so ... read more
Bangkok airport
Becky and me in the airport - let the adventure begin
Bangkok airport

Asia » Laos » West » Luang Prabang September 28th 2019

Na een paar uur vliegen landde ik in Vientiane. Ik moest ter plekke voor mijn visum betalen, alleen 1 probleempje: de geldautomaat voor de douane accepteerde mijn creditcard niet. Gelukkig hielp een hele vriendelijke medewerkster mij naar een geldautomaat vóór de douane die het wel deed en leidde mij daarna door een kleine security weer terug om het visum af te handelen. Met een goedkope bus kwam ik snel aan bij het hostel. Ik was nog te vroeg om in te checken, dus gooide ik mijn spullen neer en ging gelijk op verkenningstocht. Vientiane is om héél eerlijk te zijn niet een hele boeiende stad. Het heeft een aantal gebouwen die duidelijk Franse invloeden hebben (inclusief een boeddhistische variant op de Arc de Triomph), maar verder had ik de stad na 2 uur rondlopen wel gezien. ... read more
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