Friday 8th April
We are away to Luang Prabang today by mini bus. The journey takes 7 hours in total. The road is very windy and bumpy. Along the way we pass through many villages. We pass Laos people washing in the street, cooking, cleaning and going about their daily business. We see Lao children as young as five carrying heavy loads on their heads and backs from village to village. I saw two small girls on the road walking with their heavy loads and I timed it on my watch how far it was by minibus to the next village. It was 20mins by minibus, that must take those little girls hours. I felt so sad when I saw them. All the drivers in Laos are crazy and overtake at any chance even if there is a large truck coming towards you. I wish I had been sleeping on the journey as it was terrifying. When I looked out the window all I could was a sheer drop down a mountain! Also you would come across cows, buffalows and goats just all standing in the road and not getting out the way. Eventually we arrive in Luang Prabang however we are dropped off at the bus station out of town. It costs us 20,000 kip EACH for a tuk tuk. As we head into the city kids are throwing water at anyone who goes by. This is a Laos tradition to have huge water fights in the street for the whole week of new year. It is Laos New Year from 13-15th April. As we go passed on the tuk tuk we all get soaked! We decide to stay in a small guest house out of the centre. We settle into our room then head out to explore our new city. We come across the day market, it is getting quite late in the day so a lot of stalls are closing and new ones opening for the night markets. We head down to the river to have a drink in one of the restaurants over looking the Mekong. Then we head up to the night markets. There are hundreds and hundreds of stalls. Everything from beautiful pictures to slippers! Down a side street we find the night food markets. Henry is already excited as there's lots to choose from. We stop at a little stall and get some freshly made pork spring rolls with a chilli sauce, so good! Further down there is a stall where you can fill a plate for 10,000 kip (under £1). There are lots of salads, rice and vegetables. They are cooking fish, chicken, pork and other things we are not sure of on the BBQ. It smells delicious.
Saturday 9th April
We had the best sleep ever last night. Our guest house bed is so comfy and the room/bathroom is so clean. We got the room for 65,000 kip and it is a bargain. You get hot water, soap, toilet roll, towels, free wifi and free tea/coffee. It is called 'Inthasack Guest House' on Manomai Road.
We eventually get up and have a walk into town. We book a mini bus to go up to the Kuang Si Waterfall. It costs 20,000 kip to enter the park. When you enter the park there is a bear sanctuary with about 6 or 7 bears. They are all asleep of course! There are 3 swimming areas within the park. We reach the first one and the water is so blue. We go onto the waterfall, it is gorgeous and very peaceful with the sound of the water, for a second you forget the many tourists chatting and taking photos in front of it. Henry of course wants to trek to the top. The trail is very steep and so long up a cliff. We reach the top. The path ends so we have to cross the top of the waterfall (in knee deep water to get to the other side to get down on another path. The view from the top is spectacular. We admire the view for a while and then head down the hill. We are knackered so looking forward to a well earned swim in the beautiful lagoons. The water is freezing but refreshing. There are fish swimming around us and they are nibbling at Henry lol. There is a loud thrashing of thunder and the rain comes pouring down. Back to the minibus I think. On the way back we stop at this community village. As soon as we get out of the minibus hundreds of children surround us and all they can say, over and over again is 'one bracelet 5,000, you buy from me'. It is so sad. I buy one as I feel so bad. As we get paraded around this poor village every step we are greeted by more children chanting the same thing 'one bracelet 5,000, you buy from me'. The mothers of these children even charge you if you want to take any photos of the children. I feel sick as it's so sad and you just want to leave as quickly as possible. The other people with us on the minibus feel the same. It's such a shame. The rain is back on so we all get in back in the minibus.
When get back to the guest house is it still raining so we decide to go to our nearest restaurant for food. It just happens to be an Indian lol. It is called Fathima Restaurant and serves Malaysian and Indian food. There is a table of local men across from us all playing guitars and singing. It is nice. One of the men comes over with the guitar and starts to serenade us lol. It is so funny.
Sunday 10th April
Today we are going to have a walk around town and go up the Sacred Hill (Phou Si). The view from the top of the hill is fantastic. Off to Nong Khiaw tomorrow on slow boat.