Livin´ La Vida Lao Lao

Trip Start Sep 22, 2010
Trip End May 17, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, December 12, 2010

When we crossed the Mekong River into Laos, it felt like crossing into Thailand from 40 years ago.  It was very rural compared to much of Thailand, with stilt-house, thatched-roof villages and no electricity.  We rode on old buses, pick up truck taxis, and of course, motorbikes.  The Lao people met us with huge smiles and warm sabaidees (hellos), and the kids were the cutest in the world. 

A fourteen-hour night bus took us from the border to our first stop, Luang Prabang.  Lao-French fusion at its best, the peninsular town was filled with cobblestone streets, imperial-styled architecture, and baguettes.  The town hosted a nightly market, where we discovered the $1 buffet!  One of the most stunning sights we visited were the aquamarine waterfalls, which were only a short motorbike ride from the town.  

From LP we headed to Vang Vieng, a party town surrounded by lush, jagged mountains.  The main attraction in town is tubing the river, which is sporadically lined with bars that offer the usual as well as rope swings and diving platforms.  Although not the most authentic Lao experience, e.g., the restaurants looped Friends and Family Guy, we left feeling happy that we visited.

After a nondescript stop in Vientiane, we ventured south to Tha Khaek, where our best Lao adventure began.  Tha Khaek is the starting point for the off-the-beaten-path 440 kilometer motorbike route, known as ¨the loop.¨  It took us through unbelievable karst country, tiny villages, and to Kong Lo Cave, the highlight.  We traveled through the cave, which was only recently explored, on its 7.5 kilometer river, taking us from one side of a mountain to a tiny village on the other side.  We finished the loop on Christmas Eve, tired and dirty, but singing Christmas carols the whole way back (ashamed to have forgotten the lyrics to the 12 days of Christmas).
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