Laos - a short summary:
Everybody we know loves Laos (pronounced without the s). So we went. Everybody we know loves Laos because they love Luang Prabang sooo much. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore stunning, beautiful, extraordinary and well worth a trip there.
So we went, stayed, walkeda lot in search of a guesthouse (walked through Luang Prabang twice) and then decided to leave after two nights and one day there. The first time we dared tell anyone we didn't like Luang Prabang was on our way out of Laos (don't say the s, even when you're reading!). Their reaction? "What?!? YOU (their emphasis) didn't like LUANG PRABANG (again their emphasis probably thinking we weren't talking about the same place).
But we were ready with our answer after four days of soul searching: It's not Luang Prabang, it's us.
It's really difficult to admit that you don't like a place when everyone else raves about it. Yes, there was a massive build up and the expectations that go with it, but we've had that with Lijiang and other places as well. This was different, actually we were indifferent not really disliking it, but not really caring enough to stay and search for a reason to like it.
So on we went to Vang Vien - and as our Irish friend on the bus from Kunming said about the tubing:"It's perfect because it's drinking AND an activity at the same time!" Vang Vien was gorgeous in it's natural setting and weird in it's Friends Bars (literally bars where foreigners lie down and watch Friends, although Simpsons and The Family Guy bars are giving them a run for their money by getting in the more discerning punters…). All in all a truly unique place. The choice is yours to escape from it all or go back to it all- "all" in this case being watching TV shows while having a drink with other travelers.
After Vang Vien we went to the capital - Vientiane. So far this has been the most overpriced and undervalue added place on our trip. We walked through Vientiane and decided to leave the next day. Now if you said to someone: "We didn't like Vientiane" they would not look at you in disgust, so we openly shared our opinion when asked for it, and even when we weren't.
Summary: Laos (don't you dare say that s) is an expensive (relative to other places of the same caliber in South East Asia) place that we hoped would live up to the hype. Just goes to show that a "sure thing" is sometimes not the same "thing" for everyone.