The Plain of... whatever! We rode a motorbike!
Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
85Trip End Dec 24, 2011
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At 9am our minivan starts out from Luang Prabang and is 7 hours of non-stop nearly-falling-off-side-of-mountain fun. We see the change of scenery on the way, from tropical jungle to lower lying pine forests and cleared land. The temperature also drops to that of an English summer. (cold.)
When the minivan pulls into the station at Phonsavan, we brace ourselves to be harassed by the entourage of guest house and tour scouts waiting outside. But then, we forgot that we were in Laos. The group smiled politely and patiently, holding up their signs, as we got our bags, then were simply helpful when we asked where the main street was. Bravo!
We decided on our way there that we would stay at the 'KongKeo' guesthouse, because it said in the guide book that there is a bar there
We arrive and check into a little bungalow. The owner, 'Crazy Mr Kong' speaks amazing English (we will later learn that his father is half Swiss) and is the only local so far that we have heard to use the word 'fucking'. And he uses it quite a lot. Brilliant. "You want to watch the football?" He asks when we check in, "we came to SE Asia to get away from football." says Claire. "Usually all English come here and say, we want to watch de fucking football!!" Says Mr Kong. He also says that he doesn't like being in the lonely planet guide book, that he prefers word of mouth marketing as he likes travelers and not tourists because tourists complain more. We like him.
First on the agenda in Phonsavan is to visit 'MAG' (Mines Advisery Group) which is an organisation set up by a British guy, that raises money and trains locals to clear areas in the country of unexploded bombs. We donate $40 and read the information around the shop, then leave for dinner.
After a dinner of Indian food (?!?) we make our way back to the guesthouse. The bar out front is tiny but sweet and a bonfire is burning inside an old US bomb casing. There is an honesty policy fridge, which basically means you help yourself and they trust you to be honest and pay for what you had at the end of your stay
Instantly we prefer Phonsavan to Luang Prabang. Although it is no way near as pretty (it actually doesn't look too dissimilar to Diem Ben Phu), we fell it has more character already.
A slow start while Claire's womb suffers another bout of monthly pain. But after lunch we make our way to 'happy motorcycle' to see if we have the balls to rent. We try a bike out in the yard next door, Jo looks serious and concentrated and feels fine
The site is very beautiful and the mystery of the jars and why they were there was interesting. (Claire had previously thought that they would resemble jam jars. She was surprised.) But we had a m o t o r b i k e. So it wasn't long before we were back on it.
We drive another 25KM down the road, through villages and rice fields. The only obstacle for Jo are cows, chickens (why DID that chicken cross the road?) and Claire's renditions of 'cool rider' from grease two, in her ear. (In honour of Becky Bollock.)
We return to the guest house in one piece and with the knowledge that motorbike is the best way to travel here.
We drink beer Lao and are serenaded by Crazy Mr Kong on guitar. The highlight is his rendition of 'Hotel California'
We go to bed packing for our trip to Vang Vieng in the morning, and before we go to sleep we find a little frog in the bathroom.