Waterfalls in Laos and Flying to Vietnam

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bags packed and checked out. Tampon, as an illegal taxi tout, wouldn't meet us at our accommodation, so we lugged our backsides fifteen minutes walk down the road to meet him. He almost looked surprised to see us but alas we were there. We threw our rucksacks into the comfy back with its blankets and cushions, then Vikki went to get in herself, however Tampon told us we had to sit up front. He didn't want us looking like customers in the back, gutted, we all squashed in up at the front.

Driving off we hoped that Kuang Si waterfalls would be worth the effort since we were shoe-horning the visit in on a flying day.

Having been told that the waterfalls didn't cost anything to get in, when we arrived it was going to cost 20,000 kip each to get in, but by the time we saw the fee paying sign we had already walked through unnoticed and with funds being critical we didn't choose the high road that day..

Taking a woodland path to the right we came across a bear 'sanctuary' with a very small enclosure soon after, here we stopped only long enough to take pictures of ourselves with some plastic replica bear species in a 'Usual Suspects' style line up (with a touch of gay paw YMCA thrown in). Moving swiftly on we came across the first aqua pool, furthest away from the falls, and Paula went for a dip, allowing Vikki to capture a variety of blackmail photo's of bellies, chins and tangerine dreams. Every pool of water we came across beyond that point moved us closer to the main falls, and each pool, or group of pools, got more beautiful as we hiked our way closer.

Arriving at the main falls we saw the reason for its recommendation to us; we had reached the pinnacle of the cascading water and marvelled at the height and power of the waterfall and the torrent as it hit the upper pool. Without hesitation we climbed the rocks, stripped our kit off, and plunged into the dark, bubbling, FFRRREEEEEEZING pool, feeling all of our extremeties instantly go into shock. We paddled around for a bit trying to be brave but very shortly, after a must have photo opportunity we clambered out, red of skin and goosebumps everywhere to dry off and get our clothes back on so that other peoples photos weren't ruined!

When we got back to exit of the park we popped into a nearby restaurant for BBQ fish and papaya salad before making our way to see Tampon and his minivan that subsequenty escorted us to Luang Prabang airport. Not knowing what to expect of the airport we were greeted with a small construction site with an airport building and outdoor airport 'lounge'. With 10,000 kip to our name ($2) Paula had resigned herself to another sober flight, and we'd clocked on to the twin propella aeroplane over the other side of some barb wire. We limbo'd under some construction tape to the shop across the way and questioned the cashier about how much varioous items cost, finally we bought a small bottle of cold water and twenty really cheap cigarettes, appropriately named '999'.

Boarded to our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam which given its one hour duration was preferable to a 24-36 hour bus ride across the most difficult land border crossing we wouled if we'd have encountered if we had not flown. It also allowed us to obtain a fast track e-Visa online just days before - job done! Plane meals came around and Paula found a small spider in her tuna sandwich packaging, other than that we landed in a safe and controlled manner.

At Hanoi airport we were accosted by an airport taxi tout who acted like he was high on something, he had an inability to concentrate or hold our eye contact, and with the revelation from a German man in our hotel the night before saying that about 80% of Hanoi men being heroin addicts, we were feeling a little tense about the city. Sometimes in life we know that the alam bells are sounding but through convenience or necessity we ignore them. With the equivalent of $800 in our purse, witnessed by the tout, we agreed to give him our business and take us to Hanoi main station for our overnight sleeper train to Sapa. Despite all of the odds and a sudden terror attack from Vikki's imagination we arrived safe and sound at Hanoi station with only a minor dispute over the agreed fare.

Tickets bought, beers drank under the observation of what felt like a million pairs of eyes, we headed across the tracks to our platform and boarding the local sleeper carriage and were pleasantly surprised at the adequacy of the facilities. Two top bunks for us and two Asians below it wasn't the party carriage we'd dreamed of but we watched a movie, drank our beers, listened to the lady snoring and the man on his phone and eventually fell asleep until we were rudely awoken by the Vietnamese version of chinese water torture....
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annewardell on

Taxi driver in Hanoi sounded VERY dodgy....please take care xxxxx PS: not many mentions of breakfast or cute & cuddly animals, do buck up girls xxxx

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