Arrived back in Thailand a couple of days and am in Chiang Mai in the north, but will update about our time here later. Better write about our last destination which was Luang Prabang in Laos. We came from Vang Vieng on yet another "VIP" bus which wasn't VIP at all and was a 6 hour drive through the mountains which felt more like an endurance test most of the time as we swayed from side to side. One woman decided she couldn't hack it anymore and spewed down the aisle of the bus, leaving a pleasant aroma for the rest of the journey! We checked into a guesthouse and wandered the town where I soon discovered this place was my favourite place so far! Everything there is so slow and laid back, even more so than in the rest of Laos and the atmosphere is great. The main road is filled with travellers wandering around the cafes and restaurants and a night it turns into an enormous night market with decent stuff.
We had heard about some great waterfalls outside the town so the following day Kat and I grabbed a tuk tuk out to the national park. We followed the trail in and found some really cool bears but unfortunately the resident tiger wasn't there due to a brain tumour! The path continues and you find lots of amazing lagoons with beautiful water and the waterfalls get better and better each time until suddenly out of no where the mother of all waterfalls appears! I've never seen a waterfall like it, it was massive, you could barely make out the top. We took way to many photos and then leaving Kat behind I climbed to the top which was more effort than it was worth in the end! Once again, Laos' safety regulations were none existent and you could step right off the edge if you wanted! After a long trek we decided it was time for a dip in the fresh lagoon water which was great. We spent the afternoon hopping from cafe to cafe along the river before climbing the 320 steps to the temple on top of the hill. Don't think I've been so hot and sweaty in my life but definately worth it for the views!
Our last day in Luang Prabang was spent doing not a lot really, although we had some problems to sort out. Firstly, we were chucked out of our room as the receptionist didnt have a clue what he was doing and booked our room for other people. We managed to sort it out after a while but he tried to charge us extra for another room which we had none of. We also needed to sort out some onward travel to Chiang Mai and not being able to face another 24 hour bus journey, we opted for the more expensive but quicker Laos airlines flight. We spent our evening wandering the night market and grabbed some fresh food which was great. We also bumped into Alice and Emma who we went tubing with in Vang Vieng and had a drink at a really trendy bar with them. Was a really nice bar but was strange to be sitting in somewhere so sophisticated in Laos!
We arrived at the airport on 10 May for our flight to Thailand and the airport was more like a bus station! The security checks were outside and after passing immigration, all that was left was a room with some seats! We had heard some stories about Laos Airlines and it was quite worrying that all the staff kept on saying "Good Luck to You!" as we were leaving! The plane that turned up was a small 50 seater propeller plane which felt quite executive! It was a bumpy hour ride but ended up being one of the best airlines I've flown with, the food was great and the staff were really nice but was a bit disconcerting that our life jacket was our seat!
Will update about Chiang Mai in a few days, hoping the photos of Luang Prabang will work.