Tag Archives: sunset

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 :) ]


Sunset on the Mekong

3 Feb

We ended up meeting two Aussies who joined us for drinks. Everything shuts pretty early here so we went off to find a little bar or a shop open and go and sit by the river, but on our way we found an American guy who was drinking with some of his guesthouse’s staff.

What they were drinking was laolao…with a dead lizard in it.

Perhaps it was the Beerlao we had been drinking, but this seemed an excellent idea so we all had some. It didn’t taste too bad (laolao tastes really strong anyway) but the thought of it is still making me feel a bit ill. It also gave me a very bad head the next day!

This was unfortunate as the power went off at 8.30…so had a freezing cold shower with a crashing hangover. I was not in a good mood :) It also dawned on us (when the power had been off for a couple of hours) that if there was no electricity none of the ATMs would be working and we didn’t have much cash left. Luckily we had some dong on us still so we got that changed to kip and eventually found an ATM that was working. The electricity didn’t come back on until after 5 pm but everyone just got on with it and cooked on gas or fires and dug out birthday candles so we could still use the loo.

Whilst I slept in, Craig went fishing in the Mekong river which is a five minute walk from our guesthouse. Some local guys who lived by the side of the river

(this is him showing a picture of dogs with human teeth. He has no teeth himself)

and got talking to him – well, chatting away in their own language and pointing etc – and looked at all his kit. They hadn’t seen wire tracers before so he gave them a couple and they invited him to eat some breakfast with him. This included eel’s head so I’m quite glad in a way I wasn’t there! But he said the food was very nice and had all been caught by the locals.

We met up with Trille and Bror today, and a couple of Germans who we saw on our bus from Phonsavan. Trille and Bror are getting a seven-hour slow boat north which sounds amazing so we might do that next as although it is absolutely gorgeous here, it is very expensive compared to the rest of Laos.

After lunch, we both went back to go fishing with the same Lao guy earlier. He was busy catching shrimps with an ingenious invention made from old water bottles cut in half. The top half was put upside down into the bottom half, the bottom half had little holes in to drain the water out and then he put worms in through the hole where the lid would have gone. So the shrimps go in to eat the worm and then can’t get back out, and as he lifts it out of the river, the water drains away. Simples. Craig helped him find worms

and then went to help another man cut a huge log in half. He had had some help from another tourist but he got tired so walked away, so Craig decided to help him finish. He was sweating buckets and after about 15 minutes let someone else takeover…who sawed three times and then the log split in half, completely stealing Craig’s glory. He was gutted :)

As it was really nice weather all day, we decided to take a sunset cruise across the river

and ended up crossing a little bamboo bridge to a pretty restaurant with little huts with cushions and tables in them with lanterns. If I was a millionaire I’d definitely stay in Luang prabang longer!