Mellow by the Mekong
Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
31Trip End Jun 07, 2012
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Where I stayed
We spent our first day soaking up the sun and enjoying the incredibly cheap coconut juices (from a whole coconut) for about 40p. After 4 weeks of manic travel and bustling cities, we were enjoying the peace and quiet, alongside some glorious weather - clear blue skies and 30+ degrees - let the thaw begin! We also visited a few of the many wats (temples), which boast White washed Walls beautifully embossed with gold/green/blue/red detail. The monk population (600) are taught all the skills to maintain the temples and traditional buildings, all around the town you see them making Buddhist statues and gilding the buildings. Out of all the Asian countries we have visited so far, Laos boasts the most stunning and best maintained architecture, it really is jaw dropping stuff! Even the modern guesthouses and restaurants are made in the colonial wood design, which gives the town a very upmarket, but not overly modern and out of place feel. Everything from the buildings to the flowers here beautiful, you can't escape the vibrancy of colours.
15th feb - another day of wandering the streets, stopping occasionally for fruit shakes and food (you can spend several days doing this without getting bored)! That evening we went to a lovely restaurant which had it's own lake with ab island in the middle in which they put on traditional music and dance performances. The traditional Lao food together with the entertainment made for one of the best evenings so far this trip.
16th feb - after two days of doing very little, we decided it was about time that we did something a bit more active, so we climbed Mount Phousi. I say climb, it was a 100m ascent to the highest point in LP. On the way up we weaved a path amongst rockeries and many Buddha statues. Once at the top you get some spectacular views of LP and the Mekong river. It was also an ego boosting experience as we leaped past the vast number of tourists who struggled with the incline and the heat! That night we made the first of several trips to the night Market, which I have to admit is possibly the best Market I have ever been to. It stretches along the longest street in LP and off several side streets, with stalls selling everything from clothes, jewellery, paintings, antiques, handicrafts to a wide selection of food stalls.
17th feb - im actually not sure what we did, I write the blog with a huge reliance on my camera reminding me of what we did each day, I have no pictures from the 17th so I'm assuming we did little except relax, drink smoothies and play cards by the river!
18th feb - almost certainly the most entertaining day for me so far (not for Ross). We decided to hire bikes and explore the surrounding area. Ross has never learnt to ride a bike (Jeff you have a lot of explaining to do :p). However, the relatively straight, flat and quiet roads make it an ideal place to learn. Predictably Ross got off to a bad start. We had to cycle over the rickety wooden bridge, which meant balancing on a few wooden planks, for an expert cyclist like myself it was not a problem, but after waiting the other side for Ross for what seemed like ages I assumed he had possibly fallen off the bridge, luckily it wasn't that bad, he couldn't stay on the planks so he had to do a sort of walk of shame across the bridge whilst local people shouted 'can't you ride a bike'! After the initial set-back we got on our way. We cycled for about 3 hours and luckily Ross didn't fall off. However, it was very amusing for me cycling behind him as he wobbled his way along the road! I think he sort of enjoyed it, but it was a victory for me - finding something that I'm better than him at! That evening we walked back up Mt Phousi to watch the sunset, with what felt like every single tourist in LP, the sunset itself was stunning, the atmosphere was not so much. For dinner we ate at the night Market for about £4 in total for both of us, it included unlimited noodles and grilled fish, chicken, pork etc , it was delicious, and right up there with one of the best meals of the trip.
19th feb - we moved guesthouses, as the initial place was booked up for the rest of our stay, so we decided to relocate to a more central base. That afternoon we visited some more temples, and continued to soak up the relaxing vibe.
20th feb - we again felt the need to do something a bit more active, so booked on a kayaking trip. We spent the morning relaxing by the river, before getting on the river. We had no idea what to expect, and were completely thrown into it! As it's dry season here the river levels were very low so the rapids were really difficult. Nevertheless it was so much fun and the scenery was spectacular. Luckily we stayed upright unlike one of the other canoes! Even the guide managed to capsize! On the trip we also got the chance to visit a whiskey village, where they bottle whiskey's with all sorts of reptiles inside the bottles as well as Pakou Cave - a big cave full of Buddhist statues beside the river.
21st feb - another day with no pictures, so I think we were recovering from kayaking! As we have a tv in our room (with movie channels), we ordered room service and watched movies all evening. It was lovely after being deprived of tv for over a month!
22nd feb - after a lazy morning we spent the afternoon visiting the royal palace, art galleries and surrounding gardens. Again more stunning Lao architecture.
We plan to pack a lot more in over the next few days including a visit to Kuang Si waterfalls tomorrow, before
leaving for Chiang Mai on Sunday. There I plan to put more pics on, we've been warned off the Internet cafes here as the comps are supposedly full of viruses, don't particularly want all my pics wiped from my camera!