so... LAOS! in short-ish version. lol. well, as short as it ever is when im writing!
we liked laos. liked it lots!
we started out in luang prabeng, went to vang vieng, then ended in vientiane before leaving for a 24 hour sitting bus journey to vietnam. eek.
LUANG PRABENG was a cute little town, small and friendly and easy to get around. we spent a few days there, visitied the night market, went to see a waterfall (very pretty!) and ate lots of food. lol. we stayed in a cheapo place, as per, but it was a nice little kick-back place and we enjoyed it. the night market was ace, i was in love with all the scarves, bedding and silver jewellery, sam wanted the t shirts, trinket boxes and scarves too! o deary me! we bought a few bits, including a make shift money belt as we still didnt have one yet, it fits our passport in and a few notes, but we dont use it anyway! lol. i came away with two scarves and very nearly a bed cover, but i refused to pay an extra 50p, lol, good job really it wouldve bin a beast to carry around! i restrained myself from buying silver jewellery, but this was only cuz im tight at the moment, i wanted lots but didnt reallly wanna pay much, lol, o well, for the best! sam got a scarf too and we both intended to go back the next night to get more and a few presents. however the next night, it had been raining early evening so quite a few stalls were missing, and... it seemed to closeearly, so, sorry everyone, u got nothing! lol.
the trip to the waterfall was pretty cool. we went in a tuktuk for 6, and shared with some random guys from, erm, switserland maybe, we didnt reallly speak to them that much. we got to the waterfall, it was really nice! we had a little swim in the natural pools, very rocky but nice, it was all very idyllic around us really, a little rainforest dip!then we went for a bit of a trek (not easy with wet flip flops and feet) for half an hour up the, well, mountain i guess? and got to a dead end, lol, not the next two layers of the waterfall where you can swwim again, like we were supposed to find. at that point we gave up n headed back down, lol, we had done our walking n swimming and attempted to find the other bits but we were rubbish. lol. back down to the main bit iof the waterfall we had some fruit and posed for photos with strange, very keen, local people... all a bit surreal! lol. on the way out, dodging a photo-happy tourist, i sprained my ankle, it hurt a lot, and swelled up like a cankle! ace, we hobbled back to the rickshaw and went back to our little home of luang prabeng town, where we ate more dissapointing food, and a nicepancake or two!
next stop was VANG VIENG. i luuuvvvvvvvvvvvvvved it here! we both really enjoyed it but i reckon i couldve stayed so much longer there. it was a sweet little chilled out haven place. all the restaurants are raised little bamboo squares where u sit surrounded by coushions all day! theres amazing bars made from bamboo and fairy lights where everyone is happy (admittedly mainly due to alcohol and mushrooms!), there was music, lots of backpackers and of course tubing, vang viengs famous tubing. it was like a social paradise! i dont think we did a lot our first day there but we bumped into the guys travelling on one of the minibuses with us, eamon, and stayed where they were staying which was stupid cheap! happy days/. after that we probably fed our ever-growing bellies and then later, led by eamon who had been here before we headed for a bar...smile bar. over a bridge in the dark we came to smile bar, greeted with fairy lights, music and lots of people, i think i was the happiest id bin in a while, i was amazed, i wasnt expecting so many people, so many backpackers, and it felt great to be on a bit of a night out, this, markets and beaches was what my idea of backpacking was all about! we didnt drink a lot but we had fun, and went back the next two nights! the third of the three being slightly more of a bender, sorry family! lol. i dont remember really what we did our second day, i think we just slobbed ou, taking advantage of the good food and slobbable environment, lol, the fact that 80 percent of the restaurants all show friends on big screen all day (not that im particularly a fan!) made it very easy to kickl back and do nothing, waving at familiar faces throughout the day, a real little backpacker community!
our third day we opted for the tubing, hoping that my ankle had stopped being huge by this point, it hadnt but we went anyway. tubing is basically, in vang vieng anyway, getting dropped off in a tuktuk, with a 'dry bag' which u rent, a tube, and some money n suncream. then u spend as long as you like, potentially all day and night, sitting on the tube floating along the river to about 15 different bambboo built little bars, all playing chilled out music, tho annoyingly largely reggae!, and lots of friendly fellow tubers. u get pulled in by the folk at the bars, get off for aas long as you like, get chance to do a zip line into the river or a rope swing and jump into the river, then when youve had enough you get back into yoiur tube and p[addle along to the nextbar, sometimes 1 minute away sometimes 15! we hit the 15 minute distance in the torrential rain, but hey, its notlike we werent soaked anyway! it was amazing, we loved it! we met lots of people, drank a little and did the rope swings into the water, and still have faint bruises a week later to prove it! sam went first for the jump and i think it went ok, i wasnt too sure, thought my bikini would come off mid air and my contact lenses leave me for the water. a couple of drinks, friends and bars later, at the last bar in fact, i did it regardless, lol, with my shorts on just in case! first attempt went ok, as did sams i think, i screamed and flung myself, hands just holding onto two little handdles, over the rocks and hopefully into the deeper water, my body stuck with me and i made it in one piece! which just meant i wanted to do it again! next time both me and sam did a tandem swing in with a ciuple of lads we'd met n made friends with, this wasnt so good. lol. we both landed pretty bad and came out with bruises, make that a big black bruise on my thigh, a bruised, erm, chest, a bleeding nose devoid of my precious nose stud, a missing earring and some shocked contact lenses, nonetheless i came up smiling, all be it a very fake smile hiding the throbbing pain all over my battered body! lol. the tubin came to a bit of a halt after that and we headed back in a little boat, it was getting dark and we didnt fancy paddling home alone on the river at night! we showered and got ourselves prepped for a proper nite out! lol. we stuff4ed our faces and went back to good old smile bar, where we had a great night, i fell over, we drank buckets of laos whisky, danced n sang a lot, even on tabkes! and made friends with lots of boys, (we have been missing our boy mates lots!), i in particukar made very good friends with a rather attractive welsh guy we had been tubing with all day! lol. it was good to be back! lol.
the nextday, woken by eamon and rich our neighbours, we had nasty hangovers and couldnt function for the day, thank god we havent done a lot of drinking while we've bin away, hangovers and heat are not fun! we basically hung around watching tv on cousdhions in restauranrts and eating more good food, lol, then at 1 we got our bus to vientiane... i was already missing vang vieng at the thought of leaving. :(
VIENTIANE... was dull. sam really really disliked it here, i wasnt particularly crazy aboyut it but it was harmless enough. it was basically, small, quiet and not that cheap. you could eat and drink in nice restaurant, go in a couple of gift/craft shops, then that was about it really! and it wasnt very full of people so, especially after vang vieng, it was just a bit nothingy, but nice enough in general. we treated ourselves to proper amazing pizza, and left the next evening on the 24 hour night bus. we had a nice big room there and it was cheap enough, it was all ok really.
the 24 HOUR NIGHT BUS TO VIETNAM was crap. theres no other way to decribe it, o, except maybe, rubbish, hot, uncomfortable, sweaty, chaotic, full and drab. so yes it was lovely. lol. we got on the bus, wen our pick up finally got us from the hotel and dropped us at the bus station. we saw a few familiar faces and spoke to a few folk but nothing to write home about (even though thats what im doing! lol). after being moved from a seat in the middle, because of something about FERNANDO sitting there, god only knows, i think its smelly locals at the front, smelly backpackers at the back, me and sam ended up on the backseat, with 3 local guys! i attempted to curl up on the floor while sam spreasd over our two seats, it was very very hot down there and i nearly burned myself on the floor, very very cramped, and of course, no air con getting down there, pleasant. on about my 3rd attempt i think i managed a couple hours sleep. we stopped quite a few times on route, middle of nowhere mainly, for food, disgusting toilets and drinks.
the border stops topped it all off, they were mayhem, confusing, but scarry and in torrential rain. we had to get off with our stuff to 'check out' of laos, waiting an hour until it opened, then gettin barged by locals, who i did not like!!!! then wait around confued and uninformed a bit longer before getting back on the bus, driving 5 ninutes with 5 missing people with people shouting to stop the bus and go back for the missin folk, and stopped again to 'check in' to vietnam... where the 5 missing people were already waiting. this took ages too, and i fell up a step with my rucksack on and gave a local guy a bit of abuse wen he watched me and didnt even attempt to help. we were officially tired and stressed out, grouchy was not the word! we had had enough, we wanted to get off the bus and go home!
when we eventually arrived, i was already assuming to hate vietnam, our experience so far at the borders had said it all, the peopople were not my faves, they were very very very pushy, and we didnt like them... lol. nothing like starting out with an open mind.lol, but i was ready to be proved wrong. we at last got off the bus, into 2 minibuses with a complete stranger woman who told us she would take us to her friends hotel, so a bunch of us went, not knowing the alternative really. luckily, after even more driving, we got there, and checked into our room on the...wait for it...EIGHTH floor! where our electriity didnt work. lol. the electricity got sorted and sam apperared with a floor standing fan... but, we had a decent sized room, were in the middle of plenty and had a tv!
on retrospect the bus journey doesnt bother me, its over and i wouldnt like to do it again, but we got here safe and sound and thats all that matters, the bus journey is done and dusted now and is yet another of the experiences and memories all part of travelling, that we wont forget... heres hoping we make some happier ones very soon, i need something to stop me missing vang vieng!
love to everyone at home, a sweaty tess and sam xxx
ps... i hope you now all realise we arent speding all day every day in the sun having a ball, we are in grotty places, on lots of buses, a lot of early mornings and lack of sleep, and not really in thesun all that much to get as brown as you think wel be... so prepare yourself for a sunken eyed, shattered, slightly brown tess n sam wen we get home! miss you all! xxx