Luang Prabang.

Trip Start Apr 26, 2013
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Trip End Feb 26, 2014


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, Louangphabang,
Sunday, May 19, 2013

So after our 8/9ish hour boat trip which mainly consisted of monopoly to fill those hours when we got hungry and needed to not eat all the food at once! We finally arrive, grab the bags get off and literally no idea where we are going, also with being told that they have changed the port to further Down the river so the tuk tuk drivers could make some money, basically arrive and no clue of where we are so have to get one. Saw a couple that are near enough doing the same trip so went up and asked if they had anywhere booked, they stayed at the same place in pak beng after looking on tripadvisor so seemed to have an idea of good places, so got our tuk tuk tickets.

It starts, the prices were paying to go short journey are near enough if not more then twice the price of Thailand public services! Anyway get at this hotel they had in mind, as well as the price and finally convinced the guy to put the price down otherwise we were just going to book it online, get to the room and fantastic! Was clean and comfortable, and nicely decorated and maybe a bit more then we thought we would pay but worked out pretty good in the end.

Bags down, showered and a knock on the door asking if we wanted to go out for food with them. Walked down the night market, which surprisingly had a few different things... Not a great deal but seems good, trying to find food when you first arrive is always a pain. Never knowing the cost or where's good so eventually found somewhere on the river. After half hour of chatting we ordered some food, so nice to be able to talk to some other people ha and heard lots of stories from their previous travels and year in Aus. We got our food and was gone in no time, was pretty good at a reasonable price, then the rain came! We fled to underneath the gazebo, then After maybe an hour the rain had stopped and he came over with our bill... We got the hint, him and his family wanted to go home, the street power was going off and it was lightly raining still.

Headed back to the night market but seems to be early closing here, being around half 9 and majority of the stalls had gone, however we grabbed a smoothie. Not again though, it wasn't bad but had nothing on the smoothies in Chiang Mai and twice the price, half the size :( off to bed, early night and much needed sleep!

Friday:
So after a pretty good sleep we're up at a reasonable time with a lie in, and down for breakfast, which wasn't too bad however I had musli and yogurt... With about 5 packets if sugar for the yogurt, very bitter. Yuk! But tasted ok in the end and Ed had a massive baguette and cheese! Get up and out and do our usual thing of just start walking and see where we end up, pretty much no where, just walked up and down random streets and done half the town in a couple of hours in a very hot heat, tissues needed!

We start to head back to the area we were staying as decided on getting a bite to eat, which ended up being a bunch of bananas (not 40p this time) search around for bike hire as decided to cycle to some waterfalls near by. As we head back to sort our stuff out and have a break from the heat the cloud start forming and the storm starts after a while of manic winds! We make great use of this horrible weather and finally make a plan of where we are going to go whilst in Laos (which soon changes, you will find out later in the story). It eventually cleared up a bit so go off for a walk, and up 350 steps to some tower in the middle of the town to watch the sunset. It gives amazing views of the city and hills, even after a few hours of rain, and there we bump into Ian and Kirsten (the couple we shared a tuk tuk with after the boat) after a bit of a wait the sun goes down, we carry on chatting on some pretty cool colours form, it gets darker and darker and decide to walk down before we can't see anything.

We go our separate ways for the evening as have plans together for the following day. Ed and I go out for some dinner after finding some cheap street food, a buffet of veggie options for around 80p. As we do, fill our plates with various noodle and rice options and a fried banana, which I tried to bite into and decided against it!

Saturday:
We decided the on having an early start and making the most of our plans for that day, which was to meet Kirsten and Ian for breakfast and make our way to the waterfalls for the day. So after a long drive we finally got there, we knew that in the entrance they had a bear sanctuary and this was the main attraction for this trip. We sorted our lunch and headed towards the bears. As it goes for large fluffy animals they were pretty cool, 2 of them were just playing fighting for ages which we stood and watched for a long time.

A short walk and we found the start of the waterfall... After not being near water (other then a shower) for a few weeks in this heat, it was like heaven when we had seen the swimming pools! The colour was a light turquoise blue, just stunning with small falls either side of this bottom pool we had decided to stop and have a swim in. Who knew that for a natural pool it could become that colour, and this was all the way up to the fall itself. So after some swimming, which also came with a monk and a family who decided on here for a day out too, came to join us in the pool. Rare sight to see a monk doing backflips into this pool, great fun!

We headed up further and found a spot for lunch, then went for a small walk after. The small walk is a joke, it was a trek up through the wooded rainforest to the very top of the waterfall. We decided to take the right hand route and not the left, which had steps, we found this out after. No real path, just a cleared area which formed into a path to the top. Not an easy walk, at times nearly pulling ourselves up to get to an easy path. After a while we found the top, which was small pools of not so clear blue waters. Sticks and rocks, water, mud and a small bamboo railing being the safety net from the top of this 60 metre fall.

We scramble around to get over to the other side to find an easy way back down, all morning the thunder had been going, but it had stayed very nice and sunny. Only till we had go to the top, it got louder and louder, eventually we started to make a way down when the rain started. It was light at this point and we tried to get nearer to the bottom, we had spotted the steps but for the meantime that was it for us. Within minutes we were soaked, thunder, lighting and torrential rain and we were stuck in a rainforest with no true shelter. The other two found a hideout in a small cave which they sat in for some shelter, I decided against this due to my liking for spiders, so as you do you make the most of natural resources and broke off two very large leaves which we stood under to shelter us as much as possible. Unfortunately for Ed who had gone to get these leaves, had stood in very wet soil to grab them and came back with a small friend of his foot.... A leech!

After a small fight he managed to get him off and away from us, but left us looking at our feet for the rest of our time there. Yuk! We made is back, stopped for a coffee and a pancake to dry off and headed back to the town to sort all the other fun things like bus tickets and accommodation, then later headed out for some food and grab our snacks for the following day.

Sunday:
So today (Sunday 19th may) we have a 10hour bus journey from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. Last night we went to the bus station, then to a travel agents and then back to the bus station to sort out the best way to travel this route, as we did have a think about getting a minivan, but that would only get us half way and god knows how much by the time we actually get to out destination. So for about £10 we got the VIP bus, as we had done before and it was great... Bit more expensive than Thailand, but everything has been so far.

So back to this morning, our bus was planned to leave for 8am and had been told to be at the bus station around half 7 to "check in" so got our tuk tuk after breakfast and got to the bus station with plenty of time. I think we left on time, didnt really keep check of it. So pulled out of the station, and then pulled over to the left thinking they're topping up with water. 10-15-20minutes later and still there, so we actually start looking out of windows to find we're tipped to one side whilst they change the wheel, on both sides we think! After about half hour we finally set off.

We've heard the stories about the boat trips, and the border crossing, the Laos roads and buses, but after the crossing and how easy it was after all the fuss that has been made we tend to ignore a lot more stuff now. This time its true!! So on these roads that are up hills around bends, back down, back around on yourself up down and after about an hour travel sickness starts to kick in! I rarely feel sick but this time I came close to being sick. Luckily I didn't know about the guy in the stair well by me being sick otherwise I might of had to share his bag! We take a quick toilet stop, thankfully as the bus loo is a desperate measure and at this point I was feeling horrendous!

Back on the road and it starts again, after around maybe an hour or so the bus starts struggling, can't quite find its gears and after a fight we came to a stop, yes I can get off! As soon as this air con goes off with the engine it becomes a sweat box, and a lot cooler outside for once. All sorted and back on, for about 40/50 mins then we stop again making a fight for the door. 10minutes later it happens again. Then we finally around 2ish make our lunch stop, this is where we hand over a slip from our bus ticket and we get free lunch, well just about. It seemed first come, first serve. Others had good size portions of rice and plenty of veg, we get there and seems to be the last of it, plenty of rice but not a lot to go with it... With about 20 people stood behind us!

Break is done and the driver is beeping for us to get back on. Didn't have a great deal of sleep last night so made the most of the relatively flat roads and got some shut eye for a couple of hours. 5pm comes around and we have to stop, which is fine as we got very warm whilst having a nap so some fresh air and a stretch was bliss. 5:18pm it happens again, this time we didn't get off, hoping they would sort the problem quickly and we did get going soon after that. It's now 5:27pm as I'm writing this and we are meant to be in Vientiane at about 6pm, we know that isn't going to happen from the further delays but at least we know we aren't too far.

Ha and as I say this at 5:30 we are now rolling down the road with no engine on just to get us that bit further, honestly I joked about us pushing it! We didn't even need to stop then he let it roll and just started up again! After all that we finally didn't break down again and had eventually made it to Vientiane! We got to our place, sorted ourselves out and headed off to find somewhere to eat. Thankfully the road in front of us is full of small restaurants, hostels and cafes, but being in Asia we headed for some street food, took a risk at one as no one else was really there and ordered some cheap food. So far so good, and touch wood we don't eat anything dodgy, but as far as street food goes it is honest, mostly older woman cooking up local dishes, obviously instead of doing it in the kitchen at home they do it on the street making some money! Win win as it was great. :)
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