It was very tempting for Kate to stop and buy things but she was being pushed from behind by Shane and his big backpack, shopping would have to wait. At the end of the night market, a teenager tout took us on another ten minute walk to his guesthouse but it turned out that he didn't actually have a room. By now we had realised that Shane did not choose the best accommodation, so leaving him with bags, Kate went in search of a decent room. Eventually we had found a really nice guesthouse run by a elderly couple, it was an old house and everything from floor to ceiling was dark varnished wood, we compared it to a log cabin or ships cabin.
The first day we had breakfast by the Mekong river and ended up going to Kuang Si waterfall and bear sanctuary. When we got there the driver told us that we had three hours before we had to meet back in the car park. We headed straight to the bear sanctuary and managed to find ourselves on the "staff only" path without realising, we found some bananas and Shane thought it would be a good idea to find them!
Reading the information signs later, we saw that the keepers hide food around the enclosure, so perhaps feeding them a banana was not we should've done - oops! We walked further into the jungle towards the waterfall and passed some scenic, shorter falls and pools along the way.
We found the big waterfall and it was very impressive.
We saw the path continue and thought we'd follow it to the top of the fall. Considering there were a lot of people walking up to the waterfall, we wondered why no one else was on this path. We soon realised why when the path became a muddy, slippery and steep cliff like climb (the pictures do not show how steep it really was)! We reached the top after forty minutes climbing and had to cross the fast flowing river, luckily Kate's camera survived a quick dip when Shane slipped!
We heard the route down on the other side was not a great deal better but there were some steps and it was more of a trodden path.
We made it back down the other side to realise that we had spent all our time ascending and descending the waterfall, and we were left with no time to swim in the fresh water pools. On the way back our driver stopped at a village involved in an eco-tourism project, where the locals and their children make hand crafted gifts to sell to tourists.
That evening we headed towards the street buffet that we had heard about from other travellers. For less than a pound, you could fill your plate up from ten different dishes, good times! After dinner we found a stall in the market selling Big Brother Mouse books. This is an organisation setup to provide children in villages with fun books, to promote the enjoyment of reading. Kate bought three books to hand out to children in the next couple of villages that we were visiting.
The highlight of the next day was climbing up to Phu Si temple for sunset with amazing views over the city and river.
Once again for dinner, we went for the buffet!
Rather than take a twenty four hour bus to Hanoi, Vietnam, we headed to Nong Khiaw, Laos, for the slower but more scenic route into Vietnam.
Luang Prabang is a world heritage city and it is beautiful. We arrived after a seven hour, hairpin turn bus journey through Lao mountains. The scenery was stunning but the journey was long. We were dropped in the city in the evening and were pointed in the direction of the guesthouses. Getting there involved a trek through the never ending stalls of the night market.