We left the beautiful but extreeemly cold Luang Namtha on the same 4 hour death ride back to Huay Xai, 1 hour in and we got a flat tyre! Out of pure luck though we managed to stop right opposite a small garage so within 40 minutes we were back on the road again so not too bad. And your concept of travelling times soon change, so a 4 hour drive here is a quick trip, where as I moan about a 2 hour drive up the motorway back at home!
So whilst in Huay Xai we met a very friendly, loud american couple who told us all about thier trip. They told us about a place known as a thousand islands which is right at the bottom of Laos, its a number of beautiful islands surrounded by the Mekong River which apparently turns from the brown colour it is up here to clear terquiose. We had heard about this place before but had written it off as we wanted to stay in north Laos and enter into north Vietnam and work our way down south into cambodia...however; the plans have now changed! We have now decided to stay in Laos and work our way down south, we will then enter into cambodia next then south Vietnam and work our way back up norh after some much needed sun and heat! the plan then is to catch a flight from north Vietnam to Bangkok and to the beaches. Well thats the plan today, it may be different tomorrow, who knows!
So back to the journey, from Huay Xai we caught the slow boat to Luang Prabang. The trip is over two days down the Mekong river with a one night stop at the half way point in a place called PakBeng. The journey is the most beautiful you could imagine, clear blue skies, rich green mountains covered in thick jungle ,riverside villages and strickingly high cliff edges! I dont know if we have mentioned it yet but its really cold here....haha yeh the boat trip was freeezing, the boat was a wooden long tail boat so had a roof but no sides. The scenary just about made up for the 16 hours of freezing cold wind when you could bear to pull your jumper and scarf away from your wind beaten faces!
They sell you accomodation before you set off on the first day and we have been advised by a couple we met who had just done the trip to just book it as you arrive quite late at the half way point. It was the most expensive and most rotten place we have stayed yet! manky mozzi nets, cold mouldy shower and rotten wooden walls, damo didnt get to sleep until 3 as there was a dog whining all night and then the cockrals are going off at 4 so all in all not a great nights sleep!
Our accomodation in Luang Prabang is a palace compared to where we stayed the night before, its actually really good, TV, wardrobe, bedside lights and a hot shower, practically the Ritz! They have loads of christmas decs up, two trees and tinstle over our door, the staff are even wearing santas hats and there is a christmas CD on repeat so we are starting to feel a teeny bit festive!
We have been wearing the same long sleeved tshirt and fleeces for over a week now so the first thing we had to do this morning is take our clothes to be cleaned which now means we are hiding in our warm room until the sun comes out as we have no jumpers or scraf or anything to keep us warm until we pick up our stuff at 5pm!
First stop tonight is the night market to buy a hoodie!
So thats us for now, we will update soon, oh and Merry Christmas!!!!