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Asia » Laos
August 19th 2008
Published: April 13th 2010
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The longboat tripThe longboat tripThe longboat trip

2 days enjoying this scenery

Laos - 17 days





I crossed the border into Laos from the Northern Thai town of Chiang Khong and took the slow boat down the Mekong River to the impressive Luang Prabang. The boat ride was quite cramped, they got a good price from us tourist folk and they knew how to take advantage of that, there were many complaints from the elderly passengers. The scenery however was fantastic, especially the second day, I felt happy as a pig in shite as I smoked a few at the less cramped back of the boat.


Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang has both historic and natural places of interest. The town is full of temples, from different periods of its long history and is today a very important spiritual place; I awoke at 5am to watch the locals’ line the streets to give food to the monks which parade the town.

Me and a German lad, I was travelling with, hired a motorbike and travelled around the area, visiting the buddha-filled Pak Ou caves and then on the way to visit some waterfalls the bike we hired broke down. As we drove up a hill to get
The longboat tripThe longboat tripThe longboat trip

2 days enjoying this scenery
a view of the Mekong the throttle became stuck on maximum, it was quite an experience trying to fix it, but the locals were extremely nice and helpful, and many of them tried to fix it themselves until we were given instructions to push the bike to a mechanic, luckily it was at the bottom of the hill. We gave up on the bike and the day after visited the Tad Sae waterfalls as part of a cheap tour.


Phonsavan

After Luang Prabang the next place of interest was Phonsavan, an area bombarded by the Americans or their allies during the vietnam war.
Today there are many unexploded bombs and the locals are sometimes wounded or killed and some even collect the bombs, many of the buildings had shells as decoration and left over tanks are used as tourist attractions. In fact there are so many unexploded explosives that they estimate that they will not be cleared until 2050. The town also has many orphaned children; I couldn’t resist and gave two of them some of my food. Near the town was the fascinating plain of Jars, three areas with some huge rocks that have been carved
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Me buying a football for some kids in one village on the river we stayed in
into jar shapes, they are thought to be used in some form of burial ritual.


Vang Vieng

Next was Vang Vieng, a town high up on the list of things for tourists to do, offering rock climbing, mushroom shakes and pancakes etc and most famously (as said all the T-shirts) the tubing down the river.
Well it was raining too much when I was there so I couldn’t try the rock climbing but I did float down the river and try a shake while in a hammock, in a bar, sat next to the river, over-looking the beautiful limestone mountains.


Vientiane

Then on to Vientiane, the capital and this was a quick stop to see the usual collection of buildings, old temples, government buildings etc. The Patuxai monument is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France resembling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The very gold Lao National Monument was something nice to look at.
The Mekong was on the verge of breaking its banks and there were loads of people trying to prevent it by lining the banks with sand bags. When I left Vientiane it had already
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The view from my room in the village we stayed in
began to flood the area and a tractor came to pull the bus, I was on, through some of the deep parts. The day after the roads between southern Laos and the capital were closed, I met many tourists on a tight schedule that had to fly over the flooded area.


Tha Bak Area

Once passed the flooded area I visited the 7km Kong LO Cave by following the river which has eroded its way through a big limestone mountain. The scenery in the area was amazing, I hired a motorbike and drove around the Tha Bak area which was lodged between the Nam Kading National Bio-diversity Conservation Area and the Nakia-NamTheun National Bio-diversity Conservation Area.


Continuing further south I visited The Champasak cultural landscape and the Vat Phou Temple complex, an interesting Unesco heritage site with strange carvings and the usual pile of bricks set in a beautiful landscape.

My last stop in Laos was the area known as Si Phan Don "Four Thousand Islands", where the Mekong is at its widest and is decorated with many islands of different sizes, The number of islands varies with the height of the river but
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Another village
I stayed a couple of nights on one of the permanent islands Don Det, and cycled through rice fields and looked at a massive waterfall.



Additional photos below
Photos: 54, Displayed: 25


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The longboat tripThe longboat trip
The longboat trip

More great scenery
The longboat tripThe longboat trip
The longboat trip

My place at the back of the boat with some new friends
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Luang Prabang

An ancient wat
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Luang Prabang

The main street
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Luang Prabang

The locals feeding the monks
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Luang Prabang

They give them biscuits and rice
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Luang Prabang Area

We hired a motorbike fore the day to visit the caves and a waterfall
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Luang Prabang Area

The drive to the Pak Ou Caves
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Pak Ou Cave

The cave entrance
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Pak Ou Caves

Thousands of Buddhas
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Luang Prabang Area

We didnt make it to the waterfall as the bike broke down
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Luang Prabang Area

The Tad Sae Waterfall
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Luang Prabang Area

Bathing in the falls
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Phonsavan

A really poor area
The plain of JarsThe plain of Jars
The plain of Jars

Some of them were huge
The plain of JarsThe plain of Jars
The plain of Jars

We saw 3 areas full of jars


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