My trip in Laos starts in the North, in a town called Luang Nam Tha
. It's known for its trekking, now this was bad planning on my part. It had only been a week since my trek in Chiang Mai and so I wasn't too keen on paying the prices they were asking for another one.I spent my only full day there on a bicycle traveling all over the village and into a few other villages. The children would run after me shouting "sabaidee" which is hello. I love the children in Laos, although I'm fairly sure not one of them owns a pair of pants.... After Luang Nam Tha I headed South to Luang Prabang. Now let me explain something, Laos has one road. Or one road that takes you from city to city. This "road" is not a straight and narrow, it winds non stop down a mountain in the forest. It's terrifying. Not only that but it is so bumpy you can't even read. I have taken I think 4 buses in Laos now and without fail every single one has broken down, or had to have a tire change. The roads are that harsh. You feel as if though you've been at sea for years after you travel on a bus in Laos. Once I'm in Luang Prabang I settle into my hostel meet a few people and join them for a few drinks. However Laos(yes as in the entire country with one exception, vang vieng) closes down at about 11 so its not much of a "party place". The next day I go to Kuang Si Falls with a guy I met in the hostel. Its so beautiful. It's just a massive waterfall but its absouletly breathtaking. My last day in Luang Prabang I rent a bicycle (I'm so green!) and ride around and go from wat to wat. Luang Prabang is quiet which is nice but I need excitement so on to Vang Vieng I went.
Now I know that Vang Vieng means nothing to most of you so let me explain. It's sort of like how Austin is to Texas. You ask people who aren't from Texas about Texas they'll shrug, you mention Austin they get so excited and say "I LOVE AUSTIN" well thats kind of what Vang Vieng is like.
Its a MASSIVE party. Similar to the islands of Thailand. So you go to Vang Vieng to tube down the Mekong bar hopping along the way.I get to Vang Vieng and go to my hostel, Spicy Laos. Its a great backpackers hostel. However its just a hut outside. No electricity, bathrooms outside, rocks everywhere. You go for the atmosphere not the luxurious stay. So once there I immediately meet Smita who I was with in Luang Prabang, a wonderful girl from Manchester. She's been there a day already and can show me around. So the way the city is set up is sort of in a massive circle. The city itself is just restaruants playing nothing but friends or family guy and then of course the bar street. However there is really only one main bar, Qbar. The nexy day is my first day of tubing. I have no idea what to expect! We've befriended a few guys from our hostel and go as a group. Now you can't just go tubing, you have to get ready. So the getting ready process is painting your body using CAR PAINT! Why is that a good idea? not like i objected but still...and also face paints. So painted up and naive to what was about to happen we go! Now since I was raised in Texas tubing is something I have done 100000000 times. I'm thinking "i'm going to be an expert" ha if only i knew! so the first thing you do once getting out of the tuk tuk that takes you to the river is get in a boat that takes you across to the first bar "bar 0", you're greeted by an eager buff young man pouring whiskey down your throat. You stay at the first bar have a few drinks dance, play beer pong, basically have the time of your life
! So the way the whole tubing thing works is your meant to tube from bar to bar (vang vieng isn't really a family spot by the way) the next bar is on the oppisite side of the river and they throw ropes to pull you in once your close enough. So i get in my tube telling myself alright all i have to do is paddle like crazy to the other side, no problem. I forgot to factor in how strong the current is in the Mekong. Its unlike anything I have ever expereicned. I was paddling for my life and when those ropes come swinging down towards you its like seeing an angel decent from heaven, no joke! I was in the water all of 2 minutes before i lost that damn tube, I kicked free to hold on to the rope better while swallowing half of the Mekong. IT was the hardest scarriest thing I have done. I thought i was going to drown! and I happen to be strong swimmer. So once you get out of the water ( it was hard to resist kissing the ground) its the same process of drinking and dancing. Thankfully the next bar is one you walk to, again shots, drinking, dancing (notice a pattern). The scene is unreal, I mean everyone is having the time of their lives! and it is so much fun! So now is a dilema, I have no tube but i have had copius amounts of alcohol and need to get to the other side of the river for the next bar. The boys,bless them, are sticking with Smita and I to make sure we don't die because at this point we all have to SWIM across. Oh boy. So we do and it's basically the hardest, scariest thing ever. I honestly thought "I'm going to die, drunk on a river in a country most of my friends have never heard of." But miraculously I survive thanks to James and those amazing ropes
. And the process begins again, drinking dancing etc etc. Now somwhere, some how this first day of tubing I manage to break my toe. I wish I could say I remember how or where but I don't. So this was my first day of tubing. It was amazing! I proceeded to go 4 days in a row. Same process every day. New friends every day or seeing others I've known for a few weeks. It is so much fun, honestly maybe the most fun on my trip. And its alright if you judge me for being a drunken idiot because it was so much fun I don't care! The funniest thing was the mornings. Since we're sleeping outside everyone gets up early and goes to the big tables and hammocks they have set up. Everyone looks as if though they just came back from Iraq, wounds, infections,paint everywhere, the smell of alcohol and god knows what else is strong. But everyone is in the same state so there's nothing but understanding. After 4 days of mayhem i finally leave vang vieng (although those damn English boys almost convinced me to stay for the rest of my life...so cute) and head to the capital in Laos, Vientiane.
Vientiane is the worlds more boring capital. There I said it. I knocked it all out in a day. Luckily Matty and Marc, two guys I met in Thailand and partied with in Vang Vieng (well more like they just laughed at all the dumb shit i said/did for 4 days) were there. So we stuck together. I mostly went to Vientiane to recover from Vang Vieng. After Vientiane I headed as far South as you can go in Laos before Cambodia, to Don Det or also called the 4000 islands. I took my first sleeper bus (i had taken over night buses but these are different because they have beds) it was wonderful! well not that i noticed 2 sleeping pills and i was out.
The 4000 islands is really peaceful and tranquil you basically lie in a hammock all day. I met 3 girls from liverpool and we signed up for a kayaking trip/dolphin watching. There are these fresh water dolphins there that are almost extinct and I love dolphins and didn't want to miss the chance to see them! It was such a wonderful day! And I actually did see dolphins (thought they may be full of shite to be honest). After a few relaxing days in Don Det I book my ticket to Cambodia where I am now! It's a rainy day so plans have been modified a bit. I'll post again after Cambodia. Oh and good news, I should be home in about 6 weeks! Cheers!
As of Today I have officially been traveling 2 months. In those 2 months I've been to 3 different countries. It's so strange when you think of it in those terms. I just finished a little over 2 weeks in Laos. So before researching South East Asia like crazy my only reference to Laos was from a King Of The Hills episode...not much to go on there. Laos is this quiet country where I'm assuming 90% of the population live in these man made huts that wouldn't last a very strong wind. They literally have nothing, and they are so happy. I have found myself and several other travelers saying " I couldn't live like this", and it's true I couldn't. I was raised in a modern world and now my life pretty much depends on these things, however these people who shower outside, have electricity for a few hours a day and i can guarantee have never even heard of Facebook are so happy and so friendly.