Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Jul 23, 2013

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, Louangphabang,
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Terry woke just before 09:00 and called the travel agent to find out if there were any cancelled seats on today's flight to Luang Prabang. We were in luck, several seats were available but we could only change our tickets at the Laos Air office at the airport, which did not open until 11:30.

We packed in a leisurely fashion and made our way to the airport by way of a beaten up old Sorngtaaou (this seems to be spelt different according to what country you are in) for 100B (£2) at around 11:00, it was about a 30 minute drive from My Mum Home so we feel it was value for money

After being dropped at the airport, we eventually found the Laos Air office, who confirmed that seats were available on today's flight but we would have to change the dates of our tickets at the check-in desk, which opened at 13:00 The attendants seemed to be having some sort of private joke between themselves, and I was a little worried, but Terry felt confident all would go to plan. He did ask whether we could reserve the seats, but it seemed they would be filled on a 'first come, first served' basis, so it was in our best interest to make sure we got to the front of the queue.

As we had one and a half hours to wait before we could check in, and we needed to take our anti malaria tablets, we needed to find somewhere to eat. The only half decent cafeteria we could find had a very limited menu and I ended up with a very thick slice of bread seeped in maple syrup and served with cream and ice cream ( nice breakfast) and Terry had a waffle served with a knob of butter. Mine was by far superior.

After we had had breakfast, we scanned the area to determine the best vantage point to sit so as to be the first to 'check in'. Terry had previously asked which 'check in ' desk Lao Airlines usually used, so we were already 'heads up' on anybody else wishing to take advantage of the spare tickets. We took a chance and sat down in a row of seats that slightly obscured our vision of the probable 'check in' desks. Coupled with this, we were distracted by entering into a conversation with two young Dutch travellers, who were going to be on the same flight.

Suddenly, I looked around to see that Terry had gone. He was waving frantically whilst stealthily moving toward a 'check in' desk, which he had spotted an attendant in Lao Airline uniform walking toward. This turned out to be an exceptionally positive manoeuvre as it was, in fact, the Lao Airline 'check in' desk preparing to open. We were at the front of the queue!

We handed our etickets over to the attendant who looked at them a bit oddly and pointed out the date on them saying 'tomorrow'. Terry explained the story; that we had been told we could change the flights to today as we had been told there were spare seats. The attendant asked us for our booking reference number; we said that the A4 piece of paper she was holding, was all that we had. The attendant then turned to her colleague, who was sitting on the next 'check in' desk, to ask for help. By this time, lengthy queues had formed at both, and we were dominating the attention of both attendants at both 'check in' desks. After about 5 minutes of debating between the two, the frustration and anger of other passengers became evident, and I could only look at the floor while Terry continued to reiterate the information we had been given by both the Travel Agent and the staff in the Lao Airline office upstairs. I felt confident
at this time that we were not going to get on this flight, but all of a sudden, the attendant asked us if we had any luggage to check in - we were on!

We still had an hour and a half to kill so thought we would have a look around the Duty Free shops. Most of the goods were overpriced and rubbish but just as I was about to leave, I thought I spotted Gary Glitter looking at handbags. Feeling a sudden urge of repulsion, I ordered Terry to record me as I intended to give him a piece of my mind. It wasn't him which, for his sake, was a good thing.

The flight to Luang Prabang only lasted an hour and as we flew at 17000 feet, we were able to see great views out of the window. We were also surprised to also be served a free non alcoholic drink; a cold Quorn Burger and a piece of green sponge cake.

Upon landing at Luang Prabang we walked off of the runway toward the terminal building to join the 'visa on arrival' queue. There seemed to be a few chinese whispers working there way down the queue that we would have to pay to 'get in'. We thought we would be OK as Terry had exchanged 400B at Chiang Mai Airport so we had 106,000 Lao Kip ; we were loaded. Unfortunately, when we got to the desk; the official wanted 145,000 Lao Kip each - we were screwed. The officials looked on with some amusement/fear/ confusion as Terry emptied his pockets and I tipped out the contents of my purse on to the desk. We managed to scramble enough Baht and Kip together to get me through, but Terry was stuck. He had about £20 in UK sterling but they would not accept it. We're still not sure what happened; once again we were holding up the queue; but somehow Terry got through.

We were grateful to see an ATM machine near the exit, as we had no money left at all. Terry was able to withdraw 700.000 Kip, the largest amount displayed on the screen. Once again, we felt loaded, that was, until we got to the Taxi rank who told us we would have to pay 50.000 Kip for a lift to the Hotel. Screwed again.

We got to the Inthasuk Hotel, which we had booked from Chiang Mai. The owner was a friendly and helpful chap and we immediately felt at ease with him. We had room 6 at the end of a corridor. The room was basic but clean and quiet.

We now had time to work out what the hell this money was all about. We worked out that 700.000 Lao Kip amounts to .......£55.

All of a sudden we didn't feel screwed.

After freshening up we walked into old town (15 mins) and found another walking street market. Once again, the locals had turned out to sell their wonderful handicrafts and foods.

We walked down to the riverfront to find The Riverloft restaurant which had good reviews in Trip Advisor. Unfortunately it was closed so we tried another, which I also remembered had good ratings; The Tamarind. Unfortunately that was full, but we were able to book for the next evening. We ended up going into a rather posh looking Hotel called Apsara where we enjoyed a large Beer and two delighful light meals.

We took a steady walk back to our Hotel, back through the market, me laughing hysterically about our eventful day. I think I may have been drunk.
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Mum on

Glad you managed a laugh after all that, I read it all with some misgivings, thinking that any minute you would lose it, top marks for staying cool. xxx

Chev on

Ahhhh im sooooo jelous you both look like your having an amazing time. Stay

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