Flowers in Laos

3 Feb

We got another bus, this time to Vang Vieng. The accommodation etc is more reasonable there so we caught the express bus to VV…being completely spoilt by comfortable seats, free water, snack and lunch included and best of all, a toilet on the bus! No alfresco weeing for us! And all for 105,000 kip.

We were going to try and get a boat down the river so Craig got up at 5.30 this morning to see whether we could get tickets for today as everything leaves early but it turns out there wasn’t a boat so he bought some rice and fruit for the monks who live in Luang prebang (there are hundreds of them and they rely on the kindness of strangers to eat). They leave in a procession from their temples in their long orange robes at around 6 am and people hand them little parcels of food to put in their bowls. Craig said that he watched them go down a side street and they all took a small amount out of their bowls to in turn give this to street children and the homeless.

On our last trip we played a mature and grown up game of “punch monkey” with the rest of our group which is where if you see a monk, you have to punch another player on the arm before they do but we decided not to play it here as we decided we couldn’t carry backpacks without having any arms left. Instead, we have been amusing ourselves on long bus journeys with an adapted game of Horse – see previous posts – using buffalos. If every bus had a toilet this would be a great drinking game but probably not a good idea on an 8 to 12 hour trip. Particularly if Craig has to change the wheel again!

The journey was as usual, through gorgeous mountain scenery and a conservation forest of 5 million hectares. It was 20 degrees already at 8 am when we left our guesthouse so it was lovely and sunny and the bus had aircon so we had the best of both worlds :) There are lots of flowers around here; blue flowers on the mountains, tangles of purple wild clematis dripping from the trees in the forest and a range of more exotic flowers in pots or by the side of the river in Luang prabang

We also passed lots of little villlages – 80% of Lao live in villages – the smaller ones don’t have running water in their homes so they have a communal tap with big buckets for people to wash themselves in. The taps I saw have been put in by various foreign charities or government organisations, along with some new schools, libraries and toilets. The houses in the smallest villages are usually one-roomed and wooden with thatched or corrugated iron roofed. Fifty percent of Lao people are on or below the poverty line…bit of  a contrast to Luang prebang where there were old French villas and smart coffee houses.

The pace of life here is much slower compared to Vietnam where everything moves at a frenetic speed. However, more people live in Hanoi than the whole of Laos! Not much opens early here and everything tends to shut quite early too…although VV is meant to be a bit hedonistic so our experience might soon change. According to the guide book we picked up, you can get happy shakes with different drugs in them…and then get in a massive rubber ring and go tubing in the river. No wonder at least one tourist downs there every year! Fortunately I got my drug-taking-whilst-swimming proficiency badge in the Brownies so I’ll be alright. [Mum, this is a joke. Of course I won’t mix the two…I’ll just do drugs. Lots of drugs. So don’t worry :) ]

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4 Responses to “Flowers in Laos”

  1. Hannah 3 February 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    ha ha ha mum will start hyperventilating lol. Granny and Grandpa have also asked for your blog address :)

  2. Hilary Hall 4 February 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    All sounds wonderful – apart from the swimming and drugs bit. Will worry now until your next post. Did Craig catch anything from fishing? Love Mum x

    • toaustraliathelongway 5 February 2012 at 1:24 am #

      Haha don’t worry, we spent yesterday at the guesthouse because it was Craig’s turn for food poisoning. The guesthouse owner said that 3 people have died this year from tubing so might give all that a miss and go kayaking when we’ve recovered!

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