I ended up staying in Vang Viang for 4 nights. On the fourth day after my day of mourning my camera we went for a 14km bike ride to a nearby cave and swimming area called the Pou Tham cave. The scenary on the bike journey was nothing short of spectacular. Green paddy fields with mountains looming all around and clouds covering the tops of the mountains. It was so beautiful and I only wish I could of captured it. On the way there and back we went past local villages with kids playing in the streams together, little huts and there was one little boy running around naked holding a knife..:) we passed little boys walking home from school, holding hands and they said sabaai-di (hello) after I greeted them. The cave was not to high up and we paid 10k kip to enter. Inside the cave was a Buddha statue. On the way out we went into a little stream and swam in that for a bit. It was cool but delightful J That evening we went for some dinner and then headed for a few drinks to the Q bar but I could only stomach one drink and gave away my bucket of whiskey and coke.. I think it was still part of the hangover hanging on from the day previous. It was amusing and there were about 6 guys dressed in dresses when dancing on a stage and serving drinks. It was packed with us foreigners and some locals. We finished our night with a garlic nann from Nazims with some curry sauce and headed for bed.
The next day Jess, Gareth and I went on the 9am bus to Luang Prabang after scoffing down some French toast. Luang Prabang is 6 hours north of Vang Viang and the journey up there was bendy and long, going up and around hills from one mountain to the next. On the way we met lots of cattle and there was massive pigs under peoples hut houses. Have I mentioned there are tons of water buffaloes out here.. I think they are so cute and look so docile but I am sure they could have a flip out moment. It was cool scenery on the journey but I was glad to get off the bus in the end. Especially as our driver was apparently shutting his eyes at the wheel.. SCARY...LP is a cute little town with European style buildings and the Mekong river runs alongside it. It's actually amazing how far the river goes as I have been on it in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. It has a amazing night market and we bumped back into Caine who we have met in a few different cities. We went for some food at the night market which consisted of a large plate of food for 10k which is less than a pound and you can fill your plate with noodles, veg, rice, potatoes, spring rolls and tons more..me and Jess shared the most delicious fish as well which honestly was fabulous. LP has a curfew (apparently a national one but it is not enforced everywhere) so everyone has to be in by 11ish at night. I think they are probably more lenient with foreigners but the locals have to be indoors. We (Jess, Gareth, Caine and a guy called Joseph- British and teaching in Laos) went to a bar called Utopia which was down by the river and was lit up with tea lights and candles and lanterns etc. To be fair a lot of the bars by the river looked pretty romantic and so enchanting. In Utopia you could play games and table soccer (like Joey and Chandler play in friends) we hung out for a few hours before we headed back. I am getting the hang of drinking BeerLao which is not to bad...(hey its cheap, alright)
On our second day in Luang Parbang we woke up early in the morning at 5am and climbed to the top of the monestry to watch the monks at the Wat Chom Phat.. At night it is so gorgeous and is lit up amongst all the trees so it really stands out and overlooks the town. The monks have a ritual where they get up at 5.30 in the morning and walk down the street and collect rice from the local people before they climb up a mountain and say their morning prayers. We followed them a bit down the street andthere was about 70 of them. We headed back for a sleep and then woke up a bit later to head for breakfast. We then headed for the Kuang Si waterfalls about 30km out of town which were stunning, there were loads of small ones with a massive one at the top which we climbed up to and looked over it... It was a long way down.. It was a fair little walk up there and my left knee has started giving me grief over the last 2 trips of climbing.. always what you need L Hopefully the pictures will do it justice as this is by far the most beautiful one I have been to. One the way down we hung out at the swimming areas. You could climb up to a tree and swing out on a rope and jump in the pool. It was so much fun and so cold which was good after the sweaty walk J There were little fish nibbling at you.. I hope they were like the fish in Cambodia as it freaked me out.. 'Same same but different' J
In the park there were Asiatic bears which had been rescued and kept in the park and they had little hammocks and tyre swings and little waterpits. Apparently they are kept in some enclosures and their bile is extracted and kept for medicinal purposes so this organisation rescues them and gives them a new home. They were so sweet to watch playing in their hammocks and one was having a great old feast on the bamboo leaves. In the park there were little picnic areas and as it was a Sunday a lot of the locals were there with their families and having a day out. After the park we headed home and went to our favourite spot for dinner.. the night market.. Also LP does the most amazing fruit juices. There are loads of little stalls and you chooses one. I've now sampled a mango and pineapple juice and a mixed fruit and honestly I LOVE them... I wish we had stuff like this back home as I would OD on fruit J They only cost like 40pence as well so happy days. Later that night we headed home and chilled as was raining quite bad.
The next day I went and sorted out my flight to Chang Mai. After looking at dates I realised I did not have the time to go further north and thought it would be best to spend more time in Chiang Mai rather than rushing around. I paid $115 for the flight and lift to the airport so I was really happy with that as it seemed like a good price. I was tempted to take the slow boat to Chiang Mai but I would of ended up in Thailand for longer than 15 days so would have had to sort out a visa extension. By getting a flight it solved this issue as you get 30 days visa when you fly into Thailand. I checked out the Laos exhibition and then borrowed Jess's bike and went out for half an hour around the town. It is pretty small so I covered a bit of land. Jess, Gareth and I headed for our favourite cheap spot at the night market and met some people there. We then went to a bar called the Hive and chilled there. It was sad as it was my last night with Jess and Gareth and they are a great couple and a brilliant pair to travel with but I was looking forward to heading off alone and doing it for myself as well without the security. The next morning the guys got picked up at half 8 to head to Luang Nam Tha and I showered and headed out for a last fruit shake and a baguette for breakfast.My friendly sandwich lady ended up charging me an extra 5k kip as i had some mayonnaise and ham which was a bit cheeky as i had the same the day before but it was 10k and i was down to my last bit of kip before i left the lovely Laos. I waited for my ride to the airport which was not to far but he turned up about 20 mins late. He then proceeded to take me to the speed boat port rather than the airport.. I started to get a little nervous in case I missed my flight but we arrived in plenty of time thankfully. I completely forgot that i had a penknife in my daypack which flagged up when i went through security. They were really nice and let me go and add it into my big pack which was sitting outside waiting to be loaded onto the plane, I found it quite amusing as well. The flight was ok and we got a little lunch which was always good especially as it was only an hour flight :)