So after 4 days drinking and zipping into the river and enjoying ourselves way too much the next port of call was the lovely picture perfect town of Luang Prabang and the prefect place to relax and take life that little bit slower.
We set off from Vang Vieng late afternoon for yet another coach journey, this one was only about 5 hours and in a minibus which was a bit of a tight squeeze to all get on board. We set off and the drive was through the mountains so the scenery was pretty spectacular. However our mini bus driver was a little crazy taking bends at speed we were once again getting flung about! Not the most comfortable journey however we got there in one piece. We stopped off halfway for a toilet break and stopped at the top of the mountain range and the views were lovely, you could see for miles, take a look at some of the pictures we have added and you will be able to see what I mean, although photos do not always do it justice.
We arrived in Luang Prabang at about 8ish and off the coach we had to negotiate a tuk tuk to take us from the bus station we were at to the centre of town. My haggling skills need to be worked on as the drivers would not budge an inch on their price. Seeing as the bus station was located about 3 km out of town and there was no other real way of getting there they kind of held all the chips, and could basically charge what they liked. We got dropped off near the nightmarket and then had to find somewhere to stay as we had not pre booked any accommodation.
We set off down the road in search of somewhere to stay along with an American couple who shared the coach journey from Vang Vieng. We found a little side street with loads of little guesthouses down, ranging in prices from £2 a room per night to about £10 per room per night. We ending up settling for one for about £6.50 which had air con and tv. Laura not knowing this but I knew West Ham were playing and thought it might be on tele later, which it was. So while Laura got her beauty sleep (not that she needs it) I stayed up to watch firstly Liverpool v Man Utd and then West Ham v Arsenal, which was kind of hard as West Ham were losing 2-0 and came back to draw 2-2 so I was celebrating silently in bed trying not to wake Laura, as should I have woken her up I would of been in trouble! Also I should mention our little bathroom in our guesthouse, had everything we needed toilet, basin, shower it was all there and just to finish it off they had decided to have a tile on the wall of a naked oriental women, very strange and not something you would perhaps find in a travel lodge back in blighty.
After throwing our stuff in the room and coming to terms with the naked lady in our bathroom we headed out to get some dinner. We found a little thriving night food kitchen which was doing vegetarian buffet plates for 5,000 kip about 40p per plate. Food was really nice and so cheap I went up for seconds. We then spent the evening wondering around the night market, which actually was not too bad the stalls were all set out on the pavements in a really relaxed manner much different to previous markets we had been to, the people didn't seem to hassle you as much. Laura was in her element here wanting to buy or at least look at every single dress that was available for purchase. Laura finished up with 2 skirts in total I think? although she could of bought lots more.
The night market finished about 10pm so we headed back to the guesthouse for an early night, well for Laura any way as I stayed up to watch the football. The town of Luang Prabang is very much early to bed early to rise kind of a place.
The next day we got up faily early and decided that we would head to the waterfalls (Kuang Si Falls) for a half day trip. So with this in mind headed to where the night market was the night before as this is where you would be able to get a tuk tuk there. We asked a tuk tuk driver how much for a trip to the waterfalls and he said his price and we walked away and said we would think about it. At the same place where all the tuk tuks line up is all these breakfast stalls selling baguettes with your choice of Nutella (Yum), Jam, Peanut butter you name it pretty much and you could have it, there was also stalls selling iced coffees and milkshakes! There was about 20 stalls in all, all selling the same things more or less. So we each got a baguette I had Nutella and Laura had jam, not that you really need to know that, but hey! We waited around for about an hour or so watching the world go by and all the monks walking up and down the street, and hoping the tuk tuk drivers would offer us a better deal than they had previously, they eventually did and by us not acting to keen we managed to get a better price for our trip to the waterfalls.
Once we arrived at the waterfalls we bumped into the American couples which we had met on the long coach trip from Hanoi (Vietnam) to Vang Vien (Laos). We set off for the walk around the park (Jungle) where the waterfalls were and wasn't long before we stumbled across the first lot of waterfalls, we thought there was going to be just the one waterfall but there were loads and all were really amazing! We trekked right up to the top (in flip flops) which was a good 20 minute climb up quite steep terrain. Once we finally got to the top, it was a bit of an anti climax as you couldn't really get much of a view or any kind of perspective of the waterfall, it was better at the bottom. Never mind still it was a good bit of exercise.
Once we got down we were boiling hot and what better way to cool off than jumping into a turquoise blue waterfall pool. There was a rope swing off a tree that overhangs the pool and I had a little go, and it really was quite cool. The water was however freezing cold but really refreshing!
After drying off we headed back to the bottom of the park where they had a little bear sanctuary where they keep bears that they have been saved from being hunted by humans, they were in a large enclosure and all looked happy enough on there own tyre swings and climbing frames. Laura and I also had some banana fritters from some women selling them close by which were lovely and deserve there mention.
We headed back from the waterfalls which was a really lovely place and back to Luang Prabang for the evening. We decided to eat once again at the same street kitchen as the night before, well for 40p for dinner you can't go wrong. We were due to meet some friends in Luang Prabang (Jon,Cat,Steve and Raj) but we were not sure when, where or anything. We bumped into Jon and Cat in the street kitchen and had a little double date with them around our little plastic table and chairs. The rest of the evening was again spent exploring the market.
The next morning we headed out exploring the little town which is situated next to the Mekong river and I have to say it really is a lovely place and would recommend it to anyone thinking of going on holiday with this being one place to stop off for a few days. In the middle of the town there is a small hill, about 100 meters high. The sides of the hill, as well as the top, is studded with many small temples and shrines. The stairs up to the temple where an absolute killer as it was again baking hot! Although once at the top you got a great view over the little town of Lunag Prabang.
We then headed to the airport where we had a flight booked to Bangkok where life would be a little faster than in Luang Prabang!
James and Laura xxxx