Living life to the full!

Trip Start Feb 17, 2010
Trip End Feb 23, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, April 25, 2010

With the madness of Vang Vieng still fresh in my mind I got the bus to Luang Prabang to discover more of Laos. Luang Prabrang was a brilliant little town, it was very relaxing compared to Vang Vieng and yet there was still plenty to do here. There was a brilliant night market and a really cool second hand bookshop that sold coffee, food and beer upstairs in a cosy room full of floor-cushions. It was air-conditioned, had free WI-FI and played a film in the evening!

The highlight of Luang Prabang was the waterfalls! I got a 45 min tuk-tuk ride to get out there, and it was definitely worth the wait… I arrived there to find the most amazing clear, refreshing turquoise blue lagoons with water falling over ledge after ledge into idyllic pools of paradise perfect for swimming - These were not just waterfalls, these were M&S waterfalls!

To make things even better some cleaver sod had tied a rope swing to a tree which hung over one of the deeper pools. So much time was spent swing off the tree and attempting back-flips and other such impressive feats.

Yet all too soon it was evening and my brief visit to paradise came to an end as I needed to keep moving and had arranged to go back to Thailand the next day to see the north of the country

I had looked up different options of travel to get to the Thai border… the options were as follows:

Option 1 – Bus journey; 11 hours – Tiresome and uncomfortable

Option 2 – Slow boat; 2 days – Long and boring

Option 3 – Speed boat, 6 hours – Very fast flat bottomed wooden boats, one guidebook said "death is not uncommon" when describing the speed boat trip.

So took the only logical option and went with option 3 – The speed boat! Thus began what was one of the most insane journeys of my life. The boat was very small and thin and sat about 1ft out of the water. There were thin wooden benches for seats and the passenger included myself, 2 English guys, and 3 Laos men one of whom had his young son with him; although these locals only travelled about half way with us.

Now its difficult to describe just how awesome this journey was…. We were shooting along up the Mekong River at the insane speed of about 70mph! It was such an exhilarating experience to watch as the driver steered around the huge rocks in the river and skilfully avoided the countless floating logs and bits of bamboo. The scenery was so incredible it almost made you forget about the crazy speeds and uncomfortable seats, as with each time the river meandered around another mountain side you were greeted by a view more amazing than the last. It was totally worth the sunburn, the risk of death and numb arse to see such a beautiful landscape. However as we got about 15min away from our destination a huge storm broke, with thunder and lightning and rain so heavy it stung your face and you could barely see a thing what with the speed were travelling. The driver eventually stopped at a tiny floating shack and I actually thought that we had stopped because of the weather and were going to have to spend the night here! I soon realised that this was in fact out destination, so I had to walk across a stupidly small and slippery walkway onto the shore with all my luggage on my back and then attempted to climb up the mud steps to the top of the hill… this was almost impossible with the heavily rain making the “steps” a muddy stream and the heavy luggage on my back did not make things any easier…. I came very close to slipping all the way to the bottom on a number of occasions.

At the top we had to rush to get a tuk-tuk to the border crossing as with was almost 6pm when the crossing closed for the night, we got there at 6pm on the dot and the immigration control refused to give us an exit stamp… so we had to spend another night in Laos…. We walked down to the main street to find a hotel at a reasonable price, but due to the storm the town had a power cut and so the hotel we found had no electricity! Therefore my final night in Laos was rather damp, dirty and dark!

So this being the end of my visit to Laos, here is a short summary on my time here:

Laos is defiantly one of the best places I have ever been, it is arguably my favourite country in South East Asia, but its hard to say for sure! The people are so laid back they are horizontal – quite literally! Often you will go into a shop and have to wake the guy up to get him to serve you!

The People

The Mountains

The Tubing

The Rivers!

The outrageous tuk-tuk fares in Vang Vieng
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