Writing from Laos, Vang Vieng! Have had a brilliant week and a half in Laos so far - gorgeous country! The people are so much friendlier than in Thailand and the pace of life is so much more relaxed.
Took the slowboat along the mekong river from the thai border for 2 days - stunning scenery, bit of a sore bum by the end of it but met a great german girl who i have spent up until now with.
Got off the boat in luang prabang, which is by far my favourite city so far - it is a world heritage site and you can see why. Stunning temples everywhere, where you can watch the monks line up for the alms-giving ceremony every morning. There was the annual full moon festival whilst we were there, which is celebrated by boat races along the mekong and the monks made paper lanterns and sculptures to hang everywhere, which was magical when lit by candlelight. Lots of french influence in the architecture and they have baguettes and red wine everywhere! Oh joy!!
Headed up north to louang namtha to do a few days trekking in the leech infested jungle! Got used to pulling leeches of my boots and washing blood drenched socks after a while...Brilliant visiting some of the local villages and consuming some beerlao whilst eating lots of sticky rice and chilli with chopsticks made out of bamboo!
Trekked through primary and secondary jungle along the edge of the ridge line in the nam ha valley. Realised how unfit i was after 7 months of sitting on my butt on the accelerated LPC!
Laos transport is an adventure in itself - crazy times have been had! Break downs happen all the time and for some reason the roads are being constantly resurfaced and never finished, so naturally we wait for the roadworks to stop before being let through! Feels like im having a seizure whilst being crammed next to bags of rice, chickens and about 50 laos people whenever i get on a local bus!
Headed from louang namtha to oudomxai and then chartered a private minivan to nong khiaw in what was a marathon session of travel! Nong Khiaw in the north east is gorgeous, very off the backpackers trail & surrounded by limestone crags bordering the nam ha river. Got the boat in the morning back to luang prabang after a sleepless night listening to about 25 roosters crow for about 5 hours at random times!
Bit of an incident on the river - the boatmen egged on by this idiotic backpacker refused to take us to luang prabang until we coughed up some more money, which was seriously underhand...it all got a bit nasty with them demanding we get out, us refusing and it delaying our journey by about an 1 1/2!
Out unscathed however, and now am in vang viang where i will be tubing tomorrow - i just hope i dont get any war wounds!
Ciao for now, Iona xx