Dates: 13-21 November 2013
DAYS 10-14: “Lovely Laos” (13-17th Nov)
With Caro (our Belgium friend, remember) in tow, we left Pai and made our way to Laos, which was a bit of a hop, skip and a jump. We took a night ‘sleeper’ bus from Pai to Chiang Kong…however any attempt to sleep on this journey was thwarted due to the thousands of hairpin bends! Nevermind, we had accommodation booked at “Boomhouse” through our tour package and were hopeful for a few hours kip before crossing the border the next day. Hmmm…this unfortunately did not happen as our accommodation was quite horrific. Upon arrival at 2am we were shown to our 3 bed room only to be greeted by what must have been a kimono dragon. I mean, we’re not sissies, we come from KZN, we’ve seen geckos and lizards etc but this “thing” was the king of all of them. Little did we know that this was the least of our worries as the bathrooms, if you can call them that, were something straight out of a horror movie…flooded with what we hoped was water, the basin wasn’t connected to the drainpipe and when Sarah brushed her teeth she spat the watery toothpaste down the drain straight onto her foot…lekker! Oh well, one must deal so it was off to bed. How grateful we were for our silk liners so we didn’t have to touch any of the linen kindly provided by Boomhouse. One can only imagine what treats were waiting for us under those covers…Boomhouse is rated 1 star on TripAdvisor which, in our opinion, is probably a little too generous.
With all that terror behind us, we got the water taxi the next day from Chiang Kong over to Huey Xai (the Laos border) and crossed the border seamlessly. Much thought went into what would be the best mode of transport with which to get to Luang Prabang on…bus, speed boat or slow boat…in the end we chose life and opted for the safer, albeit much slower, option of the slow boat. We spent 2 days admiring the beautiful scenery, reading, sleeping, wondering up and down the boat, admiring the views….which suited us just fine although Caro was like a chained animal – she’s a bit more of an action lady than us. We arrived in Luang Prabang at 5pm (on time…who’d have thought?!) and headed to our hostel, Khammany Inn Guesthouse. It was a bonus to find out on arrival that we got a free breakfast (we’re trying hard to stick to our budget so anything free is a win) – added bonus that they served the best 3 egg omelettes we’ve had thus far on our travels.
Luang Prabang is a stunning little town with a strong French influence. It took much willpower to avoid the freshly baked pastries which seemed to be available everywhere (a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips and all that). It also boasted some really cool restaurants and bars, namely, Laos Laos Garden and Utopia, which we didn’t manage to resist :) Caro sadly left us on the Friday but never fear, us popular gals made a new friend…a Scottish girl named Brogan. The 3 of us spent the next 2 days taking advantage of all that Luang Prabang had to offer… a waterfall, watching the monks (‘morning alms giving’ or Tak Bat in Laos) at dawn and of course, the late night bowling. Maybe we should elaborate on this…all the bars close at 23h30, so where do the thrill-seekers go after this? You guessed it…late night bowling, random but true – and pretty fun upon experiencing it although after a few BeerLao’s there were more gutter balls than strikes.
DAYS 15-18: “Vang Vieng – Home of the Tubing” (18th-21st Nov)
From here we made our way down to the infamous Vang Vieng…home of the tubing! We stayed 4 nights at Pan’s Place which was run by a Kiwi guy called Chris, obviously?! A highly recommended place to stay, although the water was less than luke warm and the beds pretty darn hard which resulted in us having to have another massage ;) So what did we do in Vang Vieng? We obviously went tubing, which was not as life threatening as it used to be, but that suited us just fine (as you know, we always choose life). Floating down the river, stopping off at the 3 bars en route and enjoying the craziness that is tubing in Vang Vieng. A pictures worth a thousand words, so see below.
Besides tubing, VV also offers a quality nightlife including an Irish Bar and an Aussie Bar so there was no shortage of people to party with. We did however, manage to chill a bit and even made our way to the Blue Lagoon and climbed up to Pou Kham Caves – real life Lara Crofts we are. Being the Barbie backpackers that we seem to have become…we opted out of the 30 hour bus ride to Vietnam and booked ourselves a flight from Vientiane to Hanoi on Thursday evening.