Luang Pra-bang Crash Wollop Falang Falang

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
Trip End Dec 24, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Friday, September 30, 2011

Claire's title. Best yet.


We are sad to leave Nong Khiaw, and go to have breakfast at Homm's place and promise to spread the word of his restaurant, that has only been open for 10 days. He needs to make the journey to Luang Prabang too so syas he will see us on the bus.

Following Homm's instruction we walk to the bus staion, that is on the otherside of the bridge and out of town. It is quite a walk and we are glad to get there and put our stupidly huge backpacks down. We arrive at about quarter to twelve, hoping to catch the twelve o'clock bus, only to find that it was full and so has already left. Next one at 1:30pm. Homm shows up on a motorbike and we tell him off for down playing the walk. It was longer than he let on, or maybe we are just lazy falang. We sit and wait for the 1:30 minibus and show Homm pictures and video's of Vietnam. He is especially fascinated with the video of Halong Bay, as he has never left Laos and never seen the sea.
The bus arrives and we are joined by 4 other westerners, (1 American, 1 Brummy, and 2 Nordic) who cram into the back seats and complain the whole way about the bumpy roads, heat, being squashed in the small seats made for small asian people and stops for landslides being cleared by diggers. Welcome to Laos, idiots.

We arrive at Luang Prabang at dusk, and Claire is pleased that Homm's head didn't fall off as he was asleep with his head out of the window for most of the journey. We say our goodbyes and head for a guesthouse. Luang Prabang, on first glimpse, is very beautiful, the penninsula flanked by a different river on each side. It is seemingly much more aimed at tourists, with cafes and shops.


Wandering around day! The streets are very pretty, with very few double story buildings and tiny alleyways off the main drags that harbour small shops, restaurants and guesthouses. There are lots of tourists around, but becuase it is low season, we are just about out numbered by locals. There is more obvious and natural greenery here than we have seen in any city before.

We spend most of the day wondering around, and manage to book ourseleves onto a 3 day 'mahout experience' which includes camping in the jungle with the mahout's (people who look after elephants) and being assigned our own elephant to look after.

We find a bar called 'Utopia' that we have been told about and stop to have a drink. It is really nice with bomb casings as decoration and a platform on stilts over looking the river, but is very traveller orientated and we get the feeling it could get horrid in the evenings.

There is a night market on the main drag that opens at about 5pm. One of the guys on the bus, who had been in Luang Prabang, told us that the "market was fookin shit, unless you like crap hand made bags." Seeing as though he was a prick, we don't take his word and the market is the best we have come across in south east asia. It is layed out on the floor of the road, and is full of hand made beautiful brightly coloured bags, clothes, slippers, baby wear, books and bottles of Lao Lao.  We walk through and decide to give it some proper time and money the following night. Jo buys a little fabric book with sewn on felt animals and their names in Lao for Homm's cousin's baby, leaving it with a little note, at the company office that he works for. We hope it got to him.

After eating dinner we decide to go back to Utopia. Shortly after arriving, two Israeli guys sit down beside us and start talking. The conversation starts by one of them (Moses) asking for a cigarette. Jo hands him one and he inspects it saying, "is this menthol?" Jo says "yes" he says "oh. It'll do" Claire says "you are welcome!" and it goes over his head.
Joseph, the quieter one who supposedly doesn't speak much english, says that Israel is the greatest country on earth and Judaism the only true religion, and declares that Buddhism is a load of shit. They berrate us for not doing much trekking and ask us, exhasperated, "what do you do then?!?" and declare that they have us 'pegged'. Me and Jo silently smile at one another. When it eventually drops in conversation that we are a couple, they double take and Joseph suddenly speaks fluent english. Moses says, "you should have told us when we sat down!" and as the conversation goes on remarks like "but you can't have sex", and "gays guys, no way, but lesbians are great for me," are a bit much for us and we make our exit.


We hire bicycles and enjoy the city. We cycle around the edge of the old town, stop at the UXO centre briefly and cross the Nam Khan on a small bridge for a drink at a nearby hotel. The hotel looks like we could never afford a room. The staff are really sweet and when we say thank you in Laos, one staff member exclaims, "You speak Laos!" and seems very pleased. While we have a drink a small fluffy spider joins our table, and the staff have a good laugh when we squeal like idiots.

We cycle to a place called, 'Big Brother Mouse' that sets up English lessons for the locals and invites westerners to come and help out. They also make books for kids and young teens, (some in Laos and English, but mostly in Laos) for foreigners to buy and distribute to poorer villages who can't afford books. We buy a bundle for younger kids and two copies of Anne Franks Diary translated in Lao.

For dinner we go to a restaurant by the river that does Lao barbecues. The table has a whole in the middle that they transform into a small fire, and you cook your own dinner in a big wok. Claire has Tofu and Jo has buffalo, and you basically chuck the rest in. (Broth, glass noodles, cabbage, tomato, chili, egg etc) Yum. 

The rest of the evening we spend shopping at the night market, the haggling here is even more layed back than in Sappa, and worlds away from the rest of Vietnam and Cambodia, and the start prices are much more reasonable so sometimes there is no need. After some hard-core purchasing, we go back to our guesthouse to prepare for our departure to elephant village in the morning.            

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