Watch out world the Barkers are coming!
From Chan Mai it took the four of us three days to reach Luang Prabang, a small city in the north of Laos. Our trip took us 1 bus ride to the border then an over night stay looking over the river Mekong to Laos. Beautiful sunset over the mountains and expanse of river. A boat ride to the border then on to the big boat we were going to be on for 6 hours. As we walked on the boat we immediately refused, us being the first of a big group of tourists. Tiny up-right wooden benches already filled with people taking up two seats and plastic school chairs in the back! We checked our tickets and realised no, this was the one and only! So we slunk to the back to put our bags away, here the skipper told us we could sit with the bags, loads of room where the four of us and two dutch guys we met, Sander and Edwin, whiled the time away reading and playing Uno, while the engine chugged loudly and the stoned Israli's steeped on us to get out the back. We stayed a night in a tiny village on the river bank to get the same boat for 9hrs this time. Unfortunately some people got to our spot but the journey was so beautilful it was worth it. Stunning mountains and lime stone cliffs towered above the brown fast flowing water and small naked children ran down the slopes to smile and wave. The water was filthy, one of the most polluted in the world, but it didn't smell too bad so didn't matter. We arrived in Luang Prabang, hot and sweaty, and walked for ages to find a decent hostel. We stayed here for a few days, it has a wonderfull night market full of goodies, many Watts and a stunning palace. It is surrounded by the mekong and lime stone cliffs, behind are huge mountains in the mist. The first day we took a tuk tuk to a waterfall like something out of a post card, where we swam and jumped off the big one. One morning we arrosse early to watch the monks come and collect their offerings from the local people, which happens everyday as the monks pray for the town and the rest of the world. Unfortunately Dave was sick so rested a lot but got better and on we went to Vang Vienne, through the mountains and small villages, awe struck by the views and sights. Vang Vienne had great food in the cafe's and buckets of Samsung. Very beautiful place next to a clean river, which the next day Dave and I went down in inner tubes, stopping to drink beer and through ourselves off rope swings whilst starring at the scenery and floating down stream in the rain. (Good reccomendation who'rya boys!) Because of an Arsenal v Villa match we stopped in a town 6 hours south instead of getting the tourist bus straight through to Vietnam. (Good game though, Villa are looking good this season! Better than the poor attempt from Arsenal, come on boys you're better than that! Sorry Dave) Next morning ready to save money and get the local bus we rocked up nice and early to be told by an evil lady that it was a local bus for local people and we weren't allowed on it! But we were allowed on the night bus at 10pm for 4 more dollars, our only hope so we waited all bloody day and arrived to find the bus had no other tourists and was filled with charcoal and hacking, spitting Vietnamese! Oh well it would get us there...the guy drove like a maniac the whole way, terrible films of people cutting each other up with swords and no air con. We stopped three hours later in the middle of no-where where they told us we would sleep until 7am!!!! What! It was crazy...we had to stay on the stinking bus whilst the rest of them got out and had mattresses, or watched something funny by the sounds of the laughs all night. Thank god for sleeping tablets! Eventually we arrived near our destination in Vietnam, after nearly being killed on the road many a time, I think they think the horn substitutes for a break! Then they dropped us miles from town with a pack of moterbike taxis who scarred off every taxi or tuk tuk so we would go with them! We didn't dare so some poor tuk tuk driver had to pay them off to take us to town, we squeezed in, then three market ladies squeezed in too with thier live chickens and smelly herbs, pointing and starring, WELCOME TO VIETNAM!