starting with an update on the past couple of days, taken directly from the diary it reads like this:
soggrey pages... the last update on the blod was vang vieg after what some might call drunken fun, i'm now in Chang Rai and here's how i got here.
After getting everything sorted and packed away in vang viend we only had an hr or so before our bus for luang prabang was due, so all we could do was grab some breakfast and wait. we were on a sweaty little minibus and true to asian form it was late to arrive. we had 6 hours of driving up through mountains on lovely little winding roads. i genuinely wanted to chuck my guts up and i rarely get travel sick these dys.
on the way up we had a couple of buckets of water thrown into the bus, i tink i mentioned in an earlier entry about Lao New Yr3? a water festival spanning 3-5 days which is actually just a big water fight, during which locals target 'phelangs' (the white tourists).
after the bus journey we got out tuk tuk into town only to realise we'd shown up for the most popular holiday of the yr without prebooking a room...
uh-oh... or so you might think! between the 3 of us (rey, welshie sarah and i) and the new addtion of a korean lady who had bussed it to luang prabang with us we could afford a twin room, a single bed for the stranger among us and a queen for the rest of us!fortunately by this point it felt like sarah had been with us for years!
after sorting a room we sought internet access. it turns out that what they have in luang prabang cannot be classed as such, i couldn't even send an email. we gave up the ghost and went for a wander before going back to the hotel. there weren't many people left out by this time but those around were in high spirits (who isn't on new years - please nobody reference the year before last when i was practially passed out in the living room at 12.15 slating kylie - that was not my best n.y!).
the next morning we had a lazy start and wenrt in search of accomodation that was a little more affordable. we found it. there was a reason it was within our budget :-s
it looked likely to be flea ridden and was a pit, but it was as lucky as we'd got all morning. on the way there we'd had several (large) buckets of water literally poured over us, over our heads, down our backs, in our faces... fortunately we didn't have our massive backpacks - that would have been disastrous, but we were due to pick them up once we found a place. our daysacks on the other hand... (it's about 3 days since this happened and mine is still damp), thank christ for carrier bags around the cameras (uncle mike i owe you a new head torch - forgot it was in there and didn't wrap it). we were actualy sopping, couldn't have been wetter, we were dripping everywhere we went! lady luck was shining on us in the way that the sun was not, no suncream could withstand the several tonnes of water we had to face!
wen we fot back to our rucksacks we thought we'd just give the guesthouse next door one last try for vacancies, because when we said we'd take the other room the woman upped the price by 50, 000 kip (1 GBP is 12, 500 kip), not technically a lot between 3 of us but the prinicple of the matter... the guesthouse next door to ours happened to have had a double room become free (aain one single and one big bed) and only an extra 20,000kip to the woman, with air con, with hot water and seemingly flea free, oh and the guy was nice and not a cheeky thief! the only problem now being the stuff we'd left in the cheeky one's room to dry a little, simple, we had to sneak in and take it back.
On the wy ack we got siaked (shocker) and also painted black. it turns out i look better black, gets me thinking about a reverse MJ situation... we got to the place and grabbed our things, we were sneaky, we were sly and we were undiscovered. we were also slightly worried about what seemed to be tar all over our arms and faces.
on our way to find more fun and games we were pulled asie a few times by lovals who wanted to talk and give us beer. strangely, tis was alright by us! :) you'll be relieved to know that we hadn't been covered in tar. you'll be disgusted to know that we had been coered in all the crud left on the cookers. all i can say is thank christ none went in my mouth! we spent the rest of the day drenched and drinking with the locals, and we found the market which looked good and bumped into a couple of girls sarah had travelled through cambodia with, and arranged to mee tthem the following day to go to Kuang Si waterfalls. After eating the best meal we've ever had for 1GBP (yes even better than McD''s poundsaver menu!) we hit the hay to prepare for an early tart.
the next day we were up and packed and meeting Jo and Kerry (sarah's previous travelling buddies) by 9am, we got the expected drenching, but it wasn't a warm day :(.
we got to the waterfalls and walked around. as always with waterfalls they were very pretty. we made our way up a muddy slope to find a no entry sign, making my way down was even less fu nthan making my way up. why oh why am i doing the inca?! why didn't i twig that it wasn't all on a nice path?!?!
after eventually making it down we walked some more and fouind the swimming area. in went the toes, and out they came again straight away! FREEZING!! but how many times would we get that opportunity? It was still warmer than tenby in august!
we only had 15 mins left before eeding to get back to the tuk tuk. we figured he'd assume we were running on Lao time. failing that, he hadn't been paid so we knew he'd be waiting! we were glad we took our time when we got to the bear sanctary. although there were only a couple out but it was worth it.
on the way back to the tuk tuk a whole bbq'd fish was purhcased (i think mum will be pleased to know) and shared between us, it was good!
we got our tuk tuk back and had a look at all the differenct parts of the luang prabang parade and saw the chidren water fighting in the fountain. after this we had to make our way back to the guesthouse for our bus to huang xai (the thai border) and guess what, the bus was late.
we left just after 1730 and styopped about a mnillion times. only once was i pleased about this, but only because my stomach didn't ike something, i was please to find a squat toilet, and even happier to have to pay for the privilege! around 18 hrs later we were close to the border, and got ditched by our bus, a tuk tuk and a ferry (they call it a ferry, i call it a battered old canoe style bit of wood) later and we finally stepped down in thailand. we get to thailand and find there's not bus to chiang mai like we were told there would be by the travel agent, so on we hop to chiang rai and hope we can get a connection there. We did, for a bus that left at 1730, 24 hours of travelling to this point, we rocked up in chiang mai about 2230 so 29hours of buses for us! still in we're in an ok guesthouse here, a bed each and a shower that will give out some hot water, we've put laundry in and will be checking out a few things to do, i'm hoping for a massage...
by the way for any of you that might be worrying about us going to bangkok don't. we're only intending to enter the area for a bus out to cambodia and so won't be near the troublesome areas and won't even be there for longer than 24-48 hrs.
i hope you're all well and looking after each other, will update again sometime soon :)