Mi excursión global.
After Thailand we crossed the Mekong (the border) into Laos and got on a slow boat for two days down to Luang Prabang. The scenery was incredible even after 2 days on wooden seats and the alternative was 6 hours on a speedboat which didn't seem that appealing (or safe with all the trees drifting down the river). In Luang Prabang we explored some local villages and waterfalls and as always wandered the local markets before getting a bus over the mountains and down to Vang Vieng (supposedly a road with a bad reputation for violence but we saw no evidence). Vang Vieng was an ugly riverside town that appeared to have been set up purely for the travellers pleasure (or pain). A small town full of bright lights, TV's, drugs, and everything else us 'westerners' seem to need (even in the middle of Laos!). The amount of drugs being handed around Laos certainly makes Thailand look innocent. Opium, gunja, amphetamines etc. are all pushed by every hotel, bar or taxi driver and every restaurant has 'funny' shakes and pizzas etc. While in Vang Vieng we did some caving and kayaking. The caving was over an hour of slidding and swimming through the side of a hill and by the end I was happy to see daylight. Swimming along with a cave roof just above my head was heavy going. After that we headed to the capital, Vientiene. With only 140,000 people it's not a huge city but close to the border with Thailand and sitting on the Mekong. We visited the Buddha park an hour out of town and explored the other temples etc. From here I've decided to head up to Vietnam instead of heading south so I'm on a bus across to Hanoi tonight. Just over one more month to go before I'll be on a plane back home now. I'll definetly manage to stay away long enough to avoid the election and if 'you know who' gets in again I may just get lost in the Thai jungle instead.