Waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos

IMG_20151011_154129 IMG_20151011_152802As it was still the middle of the afternoon, I decided to go to Tad Sae waterfall (15,000 kip). To get here I had to take a tiny long boat (10,000 kip) across the river, which I thought would tip in. It was dodgy. While walking to the waterfall, some elephant marched passed. The waterfall was incredible with layers of rocks and water gushing over it.IMG_20151011_160217

In the evening, I just ate at the 10,000 kip buffet place and chilled.

On my last half a day in Laos, I rode 30km to the Krung Si waterfall (20,000 kip), IMG_20151012_093106which was absolutely incredible. It is probably the best waterfall I’ve ever been to and that’s saying a lot as I have been to a huge amount. There were little mounts everywhere and at the top was a huge drop with water pouring down. As I walked to the waterfall, there was a moon bear sanctuary, where there were cute bears climbing around and fighting each other. I hiked up the side of the waterfall through steep, slippery rocks, where I ended going barefoot. At the top were IMG_20151012_111146pools of water and trails around. Walking down wasn’t as steep as there were wooden steps at the side of the waterfall.

IMG_20151012_095138Once I had returned my bike, I rested for a bit at my hostel before travelling by tuk tuk to the airport. My flight to Hanoi ended up getting cancelled so I was put on the later flight but mai pen ri.

Vang Vieng: motorbiking, tubing and the Blue Lagoon

IMG_20151010_122636

One thing I love doing is hiring a motorbike and driving on the less travelled road. IMG_20151010_103509

I drove 190km from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, taking in the breath-taking scenery. The journey was pretty uneventful except taking a lot longer than expected meaning that I was driving in the dark for an hour. The drive was through windy, hilly roads with wind, rain and fog being thrown at me from all angles. Children in the villages were greeting me, walking with bags hanging from their head, playing on the street and walking mindlessly. There were cows roaming the roads and people in the rice fields with baskets on their backs.IMG_20151010_124542

By the time I arrived at the hotel, I was exhausted wanting food and sleep. In my room was an older guy from America, who could chat for England. I grabbed tofu fried rice at a restaurant before retiring to my bed.IMG_20151010_120400

My full day in Vang Vieng, I decided to drive through windy, pot-holed road and over the Friendship Bridge (10,000kip) to the Than Plu Kam(10,000kip), also known as Blue Lagoon. I was slightly disappointed as the pictures looked incredible but I think because of the season the water was a murky green. Visitors were swimming, jumping, sliding and climbing by the pool of water. It probably would have been better if I was with a group of people to enjoy the Blue Lagoon. However, the climbing up steep rocks to the cave was worth paying. There was a sign at the beginning of the trek to warn people that a rented head torch needs to be used in the cave as it’s too dark and dangerous. I ignore the sign and I managed to navigate my way around in flip flop. It was slightly dark in places and slippery in other parts but I coped. Inside the cave is a golden temple and amazing rock walls.IMG_20151010_111816

During the afternoon, I went tubing (55,000kip) down the Mekong River, where you sit in a large rubber ring and float down. I arrived at 1pm, which was the recommended time as this is when people generally start congregating. Once a group was piled into a tuk tuk, we took the 10 minute drive to the first bar, where we received a couple of free shot. I met loads of people from all over the world.IMG_20151010_150954

Before going tubing, I got warned that many travellers lose their deposit due to being too drunk and not returning the tube by 6pm. I didn’t want to fall into this trap. The bar people were trying to keep you at each bar to buy drinks and play games. I ended up hanging with two girls from San Francisco and a girl from Australia.

We tubed to the next bar, where we danced to some pumping tunes and received more shots. After a short float down the river, we got to the third bar, where we shoot some hoops. Also, I fought this Slovakian girl at boxing, where we sat on a pole over a pool. I managed to hit and balance well causing me to win the two games we played. The last bar was not much further down where a group of us played volleyball in a mud bath. It was so slippery, which just made it more amusing. Some of the guys started throwing mud so in the end we were coated. IMG_20151010_135939

I had been told by others that the rest of the tubing was about 3km meaning we would have to leave the bar before 5pm, which a group of us did.

As we were leaving, tubers were just arriving and the people throwing the bottle so us we would have enough time and that it would be too dark. This was untrue. We returned our tubes on time.

IMG_20151011_133856The tubing was incredible with a group of us linking, while floating and admiring the beautiful scenery. The sky, however, opened wide, causing us to get soaked but this just made it more of an adventure.

Once I had showered to warm up and eaten dinner of fried noodles at a restaurant showing Friends, I headed to meet some of the girls from earlier at a bar called Sakura. It’s a cool place that offers free drinks from 8-9pm and clearly are the same bartenders as the tubing places. The girls weren’t there but ended up chatting to other travellers, where we went to a different bar with a pool table, also giving free shots. I had one called the fire cracker, where they set it a light. A group of us, including to two San Fran girls and some German guys, decided to walk in the pouring rain back to the other bar, which was packed full of people. When it had closed, we went to a club, which was open till late so we danced the night away.

From meeting some Laos guys the night before, they told that it’s not worth seeing other caves if I had seen one so I decided to drive straight back to Luang Prabang after having breakfast.IMG_20151011_120804

On the way back, I fell into a problem… Mud: thick, deep, rocky mud. I somehow carried on into the mud thinking there was no other way. I missed the turning up a steep hill. So I kind of got stuck twice , the first time it was that bad. When I backtracked I saw no other way and thought the only way was through the mud. The second time, my bike got stuck vertically, my flip flops were sinking so I went barefoot. After about 10 minutes of pushing and pulling and twisting, my motorbikes was free. I started to panic thinking I would never get out. Both myself and the bike was covered in mud.

Luang Prabang, Laos: Phusi Mountain, Alms giving, Yoga and the night market

IMG_20151008_124834In the evening, we wandered around the night market and grabbed some street food. It was a place where you got a plate and could fill it as high as you wanted then the guy cooked it. It was all vegetarian (noodles, rice, vegetable,  tofu, battered pumpkin, potato) and only cost 10,000 kip (50 baht / £1).

IMG_20151008_095518After, we went to a chilled bar called Utopia, where there are mats and cushions on the floor, dim lighting and a volleyball court. It was full with backpackers.

When we got kicked out at 11pm as it was closing, a load of tuk tuk drivers kept saying ‘bowling, bowling’ so we followed the crowd to this place. I felt like a teenager at a disco. It was literally a bowling alley with the lights turned fully on. IMG_20151008_123055As I was with a good group of girls from England, I had such a laugh. There was a drunk Australian guy, who ended up giving us all massages and we convinced him to bowl in his underwear, which was hilarious. The workers were not amused though.

My first full day in Luang Prabang, I went to the morning market. It was full of food like a whole dead fish, pigs head, chickens feet, live toads and array of colourful vegetables. IMG_20151008_134842

After, one of the girls who live near me and I had a mango and passion fruit shake. For the rest of the day time, I wandered around town: climbing Phusi Mountain (20,000 Kip/ £2) to see the incredible view of Luang Prabang, Vat Xieng Thong Temple (20,000 kip/ £2) and the National Museum (30,000 kip/ £3). I personally feel that it was not worth see the temple as I’ve seen much better one and I was disapointed in the National Museum as there wasn’t much about Laos history, just rooms of the royal family and gifts from other countries.  IMG_20151008_143137

I had planned to do yoga but unfortunately we got the wrong time so I had dinner at the market, where I met an Irish and German guys, who joined us for the rest of the evening.IMG_20151008_194742

We went to hive bar, where they put on a fashion show of traditional Laos clothes, which was awesome to observe. I had a couple of Lao Lao cocktails (rice whiskey with orange and cranberry juice). The place had a nice atmosphere, however there were not many people here so we ended up going to Utopia for the rest of the night.IMG_20151009_062153

In the morning, I departed my bed early to observe the sunrise Alms giving ceremony, where the monks walk around the streets to collect food from the local. It was interesting to see but there were a lot more tourists up than expected. I found that certain travellers were not respectful and shoved cameras in the faces of the monks. After, I went to a 7.30am yoga session at Utopia (40,000 kip), which overlooked the Mekong River. I had never done yoga before so was a great place to start. I absolutely loved it, stretching and clearing the mind. The rest of the morning was pretty chilled with packing and having a fruit shake with one of the girls I met before driving to Vang Vieng.IMG_20151009_072630

Journey from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang: two day slow boat

IMG_20151007_154453  With my phone buzzing at 4.45am to get up, I showered and ate some toast before walking to the bus terminal to catch the 6am old-looking, simple bus to Chiang klong (65 baht). On the bus, we were the only westerners but managed to communicate with a mum and daughter from Lao. They were so adorable. With their little English and our little Thai, we found out about them.FB_IMG_1444267005487

From here, we jumped into a tuk tuk (50 baht each) to the Thai immigration. Once we changed our money, we simply walked through the border without any complications, where we needed to get a coach (25baht) to the Lao immigration. The border was fully with people with no clear signs on how to purchase a visa on arrival. After talking to some people, we queued in the right line first to give our passports and applications the joined the left queue. There were a bunch of Chinese, who were trying to skip the line. However, this failed for them as they showed each passport in order, where there was a $35 fee.FB_IMG_1444267035986

We walked through passport control, where a man offered us a songtaow to the slow boat. It was 10.30am and we knew the boat was due to leave at 11. After a distant drive, we purchases our tickets to Pakbang (110,000 kip)then dropped our bags off on the boat. We were told that they would not be selling anything on the boat so we got a baguette made for our lunch, which we later found was not true ad you could purchase drinks and snacks onboard.FB_IMG_1444267029720

After an amusing complication of being stuck against some other boats so the locals had to strip down to their underwear and jump in the water and leaving just before 1, we headed to Pakbang. The journey was pretty uneventful, with regular stops to let off some Laos people, and beautiful scenery, floating down the Mekong River.IMG_20151007_135301

By the time we reached Pakbang, the sun had disappeared with darkness filling the air. There were many local hotels advertising rooms, where we stayed in a three bed room. It was pretty basic but had a hot shower and WiFi so for 25,000 kip, it was really cheap.

Once we settled in our room, we went down for dinner, where I had a delicious pineapple fried rice. We walked around to see what this place had to offer, which wasn’t much so we rested for the night.FB_IMG_1444267038702

The hotel owners worked like a military operation, where they banged on our doors at 7.30am to wake up as they wanted us to buy breakfast. We wanted to save some seats on the boat so we weren’t at the back as it was an extremely noisy ride the day before, so we carried our backpacks around 8.30am to the slow boat. Once we got some food for the journey, we waited for the boat to leave.

Again the journey was uneventful. It was amazing to see the scenery as well as people working on the fields and children playing football and swimming.FB_IMG_1444293477547

Once we arrived at the port, a group of us girls got a songtaow to our hostel (50,000 kip each).

Unexpected trip to Vientiane, Lao

IMG_20150618_141041Lao was a place I had wanted to visit but didn’t expect to go the weekend I went. Due to unexpected visa reasons, I had to get out of Thailand before my visa ran out. I could have just done an overnight trip but I decided I would make a long weekend of it.IMG_20150618_131938

After leaving school, I headed to On Nut BTS to catch a mini van with a company that sorts out visa trips, hassle-free. They literally take your passport and you fill in some paperwork and away you go. The journey was pretty standard except on the way, the van got hit by some rubble that had flown off a lorry. The noise made everyone wake up and we had to hang out on the side of the road. The van just a long gauge but there wasn’t much anyone could do about it. The people in the van IMG_20150619_171048were all doing the same thing but most of them weren’t very chatty. We arrived on the Thai border at 5 in the morning, where we had to wait until it opened. It was crowded with foreigner all wanting to sort out their visa. Here, I happened to bump into one of the guys from Xplore Asia doing the same trip, then later finding out he was staying at the same hotel.

Once we had gone through the Thai and Lao border, queuing for passport, stamps and hopping onto a old bus to transfer us from one to the other, the mini bus carried on to the hotel, where I checked in and IMG_20150618_122425delved into the complimentary breakfast. After sorting out my visa at the Thai embassy, I had the rest of the day to wander and explore the outskirts of the centre of Vientiane, where I visited Pha That Luang, Patuxai, Talat Sao shopping mall, That Dum Stupa, Vat Sisaket and Presidential Palace.

From all the walking and lack of sleep on the mini van, I literally conked out for a nap as soon IMG_20150618_131730as I was vertically on the bed. Waking up in a daze, I took advantage of the dinner provided by the hotel then with some of the others went into the centre to look around the night market. It was a standard sort of clothes markets and I didn’t particularly want to buy anything.

Opposite from the market, IMG_20150619_165528we sat in a bar looking over the Mekong river, enjoying a cool beer and playing pool. It was kind of a weird atmosphere in here, with young looking girls with not much on trying to chat up some of the guys and just a complete mixture of people (mostly Laos) eating and drinking. It’s strange in Vientiane because most places accept both the Thai Baht and the Lao Kip so trying to sort out paying for drinks and the pool table was confusing. The pool game system was fair, with people wanting to play putting their names on a board then the loser of the game had to pay for the games and let the next person on.IMG_20150619_165746

When the bar was starting to closed, we jumped in a TukTuk to go to a club called ‘@home’ that some of the people we met were going to. I felt that all the drivers were out to get as much of the foreigners money as possible, charging ridiculous prices to go no distance. The club was a dark, dingy place playing pumping Asian music, with most Laos there, but it wasn’t packed at all. Clubbers just stood there with not much dancing. Apparently from speaking to others, most of the clubs in Vientiane are like this. There was one larger Lao tomboy with a motorbike there, who was a peculiar character, kept taking one of the guys money to buy them a drink but then would give him back the change. She got funny about him talking to other. It was just one weird night and hearing some of the stories from others, I was sure not to go out to a club here again.IMG_20150619_160730

The next day, I had a relaxing morning, where I had some breakfast and relaxed by the hostel pool, before jumping in the van to collect our visas. I thought that we were going back to the Thai Embassy but this wan’t clear because I ended up back at the Lao border, which was slightly annoying as I was staying a few more days. Luckily the boarder isn’t too far from the centre so after receiving my passport and visa, I found a bus taking me back.IMG_20150619_173312

For the rest of the afternoon, I checked into my hostel, ate a delicious lunch of Humus, bread and salad, which I haven’t had in months then walked along the Mekong River admiring the views, seeing the sand sculptures and Chao Anouvong statue before walking the park and through the market.IMG_20150619_173724

In the evening, I started chatting to some guys from the hostel, where we drank some Lao Lao (rice wine), then went to a bar with live music. It was their last gig so the people were dancing and pumping. The guys from the hostel, knew one of the bartender, Peter, who had interesting beliefs and morals but he gave us free beers and a ride home.IMG_20150621_103704

Once I had breakfast at the hostel, I sorted out my bus journey back to Bangkok and then rented out a cute, pink motorbike. During the day, I drove along the Mekong River to Buddha park, which is an area with loads of statues. They were extremely close together but it was interesting to see. There was a huge reclining Buddha. There was a strange guy with a pipe instrument, saying ‘I love you to the moon’. I found out he was a Buddha from India. After, I drove back to have lunch at a small baguette place recommended by a friend. As Lao was own by the french, there was a lot of cheap, french food so I ate a cheese, omelette and salad baguette. It was delicious.IMG_20150620_115157

The evening was very relaxing, consisting of lying in a park, driving to a small, Lao fun fair (which I thought was going to be a market), dinner (red curry) and chilling in the hostel.IMG_20150620_120835

On my last day in Lao, I returned the bike, walked to the huge fountain, morning market and to the COPE centre, which was a museum that exhibits a graphic display of the horrors that the Laos people endured because of the bombs USA dropped during the Vietnam War. It was informative and definitely worth seeing. Once I had another baguette and wandered around the Mekong River area, I got picked up from my hostel to start my long journey back to Bangkok: Vientiane main bus station through the boarder to Nong Khai, then a bus to Bangkok, where we stopped for food. I was unfortunately sitting next to a guy from Vietnam who didn’t understand personal space. I also panicked slightly in Nong Khai bus terminal as many people didn’t know which bus I needed to take with my ticket.IMG_20150621_122122

After an exhausting journey, I arrived back in Bangkok in time to go to school.

Even though this trip wasn’t planned, I’m glad I got to see Vientiane. For anyone thinking about travelling Lao, you don’t need to stay here anymore than 2 days as there isn’t that much to do and see.

Previous Older Entries

Archives

Follow ___ Life as a travelling teacher on WordPress.com

Instagram

There was an error retrieving images from Instagram. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes.