So the start of out trip into Laos was extremely eventful!! We had to cross the boarder at Huouy Xai. We stayed one night here before we could catch the slow boat down to Luang Prabang. Now the slow boat was very interesting! We got on a big long boat and waited until 11am when it was set to set sail! Now this was an education in its self. How many people can you cram on a boat made for 70 people? The answer is about 100! We were amazed at the ingenious ways in which they make more room for people. More wooden seats brought on, people sat on the floor of the boat, luggage being put on the roof, people sitting on the luggage!! The list went on! It wasn't until 40 more people started walking towards our boat we started protesting! They were telling us to sit 3 people to a 2 person seat and that was when we said "NO WAY!!". They did listen to us and finally put in another boat! It was crazy!! We were learning that Health and Safety does not exist inn Laos by any means! Anyway we got on our way down the Mekong on our slow boat. By this time we had acquired 4 more people in our group and the Icelandic had popped up again with an additional 2 extra Icelandics! We are now traveling with 2 Dutch, 3 English, 1 Welsh, 4 Icelandics, 2 Americans and us!! Quite a big group you may say!! So we set off on our first day on the slow boat, we fancied ourselves as pirates and so brought some rum along to ease the journey. It did just that!! We had lots of fun and arrived safely at our stop over in Pak Beng. The nastiest little place ever. We went for the cheapest room there and soon withed we hadn't. The toilet/bathroom was like a scene from Trainspotting. We even had a little friend waiting for us in the toilet! Oh it was nice especially because the toilet did not have a flush, just a scoop which filled up the toilet, NICE! We also got woken up by rats scurrying around the room. You can imagine we were VERY, VERY glad to get out of there! The next day we got onto a slightly larger boat early to ensure getting a seat, we had also been told 3 different times that the boat was leaving so got there at 8am just in case; it turned out the leaving time was 9am so glad we didn't turn up at 11am (the other time we were told!)! Now this boat journey was a little more eventful. It turned out that 3 boats had come in the day before but only one was going out. Now even my maths can work out that , that didn't work! Apparently they only had one captain. About 30 people said they weren't getting on until they put on another boat. This ended up being a waste of time as Laos people can be VERY stubborn. So we set sail with about 200+ people on board. This time it was ridiculous. The boat almost tipped 3 times, and I mean I could touch the water it tipped that much. People were becoming hysterical. We even put our USB and camera in a plastic bag 'just in case'. The thing was that they stopped along the way to pick up people in villages. Not just people either HUGE amounts of luggage, rice, chickens, food, clothes etc. It caused the boat to tip even more. Even the Monk was scared! Anyway it soon calmed down as people got off and we ended up trying to take our minds of off the potential dying situation by playing TV trivia (God bless the Americans for this ingenious packing!) and drinking a little of the left over rum! We were all very pleased when we eventually reached Luang Prabang!!
When we got to Luang Prabang we had a few problems finding accommodation it was getting to look like we would not find a room!! Bit panicky! We all split up and we managed to find a nice little place with a little common room which was handy for card playing and Beer Laos drinking! Luang Prabang was nice and felt very looked after! We visited the Palace, which was beautiful, went up Phi Si (said p**** !!!) Mountain to see the sunset and found THE best food market! Cheap and the chicken on a stick was ace!! We also went to Kuang Si Waterfall and jumped off the waterfall, Dan was the first to set precedence and then everyone followed! I even did it and someone had seen a snake in the water!! Be impressed. This was very cool and nice to have a swim! We then booked our onward trip to Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng was very weternised as it is the place to do TUBING! Now tubing for all those of you who do not know is when you sit on a rubber ring and float down the Nam Song River. Very relaxing I hear you say...well, I may have forgotten to add in the fact that there are bars every 10metres that pull you in and have massive swings, zip wires and slides that you can go on!!!! Very fun, but a little dangerous! They have even had to build a hospital there because stupid westerners take it too far on the buckets and Beer Laos! Silly people! It was so much fun though especially because we had a big group of people with us. Vang Vieng was very fun and we had a really good time riding bikes around the town too. Lots of little children calling and chasing after us shouting "Sebadee" = "Hello"! It was great, but soon the endless bars showing endless repeats of Friends told us that it was time to leave to the next place on our journey!
Vientiene is the capital of Laos. We got there in time for another festival, this time it involved Monks! It was for the Full Moon and the Monks from all over Laos came to the Pha That Luang (a beautiful golden Buddhist temple where the breast bone of Buddha is supposed to be buried) to celebrate. We went in the evening and expected Monk giving thanks (alms) but it was like a full on festival. I mean move over Glastonbury! There were fireworks (most that ended in the crowd - Health and Safety again not high on the list!), singers, break dancers, stalls by big firms like NIVA (giving out whitening cream of course!), Pepsi etc. It was crazy! We left 'MONK FEST' feeling quite perplexed! We spent the rest of our short time in Vientiene uploading photos, e-mailing and for poor Danny getting over a Spring Roll Tummy. It sounds good but I can assure you, it was not good at all!! Poor thing! Anyway here we had to depart from our gang we have been traveling with. The 2 Dutch, 1 Canadian, 1 English and 1 Welsh departed for Bangkok. Mark and Donna who we have been traveling with for 2 months left for another part of Laos a day earlier and we left 2 other Dutch behind. It was a very sad time and now it was an even scarier time as Dan and I were alone for the first time since we left Britain!! AAAHHH!! We then left for 4000 Islands in the very south of Laos.
Our trip to 4000 Islands started extremely well. We thought that we would get a crappy bus and have no sleep as usual on this 15hour journey BUT we were greeted by a bus with flashing lights and ACTUAL BEDS on it! Not just reclining seats but ACTUAL BEDS! We were so, so excited and happy it was crazy! I mean we even got given food, water and sweets! It was called 'KING OF BUS' and that is what it was! It was here that we met 2 equally excited Brits from Stroud, Paul and Donna. It was very hard to sleep on this journey as we were so excited! We then got to Pakse and we were told to get off of the KING OF BUS and get on another bus. It claimed it was a KING OF BUS but it was no where near! Anyway we got to the ferry port got a long boat to Don Det (one of the Islands) and found lovely little bungalows on the Sunset side of the island. It was great! We had two hammocks too which we spent a lot of time in! We managed to catch another festival on these islands too. It was a boat festival where all of the big islands come together and race in long boats, paddling their hardest! Don Det were pretty rubbish but it was good fun anyway! It seemed the whole two Islands were out! (Don Det and Don Khon are joined by a bridge) We also rode around the two islands, we tried to find the Irrawaddy Dolphins, we saw the largest waterfall in South East Asia (by volume) and got shook to death! We also had to face both our fears. Dan had to cross a high, broken bridge and I saw 3 snakes on the island. We both did well I think!! Well done us!! The rest of the time we spent relaxing in our hammocks and laughing with Paul and Donna! our stomach muscles were very toned at the end of the 5 days here. A very beautiful place of the world and the people are fantastic too! We are big fans of Laos.
Then it was a 17hr journey back to Bangkok.