Well after the 'epic' journey (never-ending and bone-aching more like) and a scary cross across the border (who knew we were illegal immigrants for the day?!) we finally made it into Laos! Laos must be the most laid back country ever, the people just dont really care about anything, most of them seem to be just chilling all the time, how they live I dont know! The country itself is as laid back as the culture, being flat as a pancake apart from the odd mountains, I love it...apart from when your trying to get food perhaps or something done like booking a travel ticket!! I love how when your in a tuk-tuk the drivers just stop and pick up random people on the street, by the end of our journey from the border to our guest house he had picked up half the city I'm sure including one very drunk man who fell asleep hanging on to the side of the vehicle, hilarious.
Vientienne was a lovely city, its surprising it was the capital, its really quiet and small, all the streets look the same and we couldnt for the life of us get our bearings. We spent the first afternoon walking around in circles (literally it later appeared) trying to find somewhere to eat. The language barrier here is a lot higher than in Thailand with it not being as westernised and that brings up a whole host of problems for me when I'm attempting to order food and get across my no meat/no fish/no mayo/no butter thing, they havent got a clue what I'm on about and I've learnt repeating in a louder voice and doing random actions as if your spreading butter on something does not work. The Taylors get so embarrassed and I get frustrated but all in all the food is lush!
We decied to move on from Vientienne after the first night as there really wasnt much for us to do, once you've seen one temple you've seen them all (Budda please dont shoot me down) and booked a bus to Veng Vieng, the apparent backpacker party centre of Laos. The bus was the usual hour late and full to the rim with people, mostly backpackers so we had a chat. It drove through so many random villages which at first glance with the wooden shacks look like peple are living in poverty but when you look closer you can see the satalitte dishes and big TV's inside, my sympathey quickly vanished!
They love their cows in Laos, they are EVERYWHERE and seem to think they rule the roost by the looks of things, several had a near miss to becoming Happy Meals by walking in front of our bus, the driver was definietly getting some cow-road-rage! After several hours, one toilet stop (paying 1000 kip to have the privilage to use a hole in a ground surrounded by spiders) and lots of junk food later we arrived in Veng Viang (they said it was going to take three hours, it tok about five, yet another example of Laos carefree attitude) and jumped in a tuk-tuk to find somewhere to stay. The first guest house we dismissed as they only had doubles (although tried to say they would put a mattress on the floor for the third person, lovely), the next guesthouse we dismissed as it didnt have any mirriors in the room (nightmare for getting ready - yes, we know, we are vain) but the third did the trick. A massive triple room for 60,000 kip a night - which comes to about a fiver between us - bargain! That's another thing about Laos, the money - whose idea was it to go up in thousands?!! 100,000 kip = roughly 17 pounds, imagine the confusion, especially when your buying a meal and it comes to 30,000!! We've soon realised that for our cheap-tastic price the room comes with its own set of various insects, red ants, black ants, cockroaches, little mite things that are everywhere...lovely, my legs look like I have scabies I've been bitten that much!!
That night we went out around the bars and later found out, much to our horror and dismay, that the bars close in Laos at midnight!!! There is a countrywide curfew of 12 O'clock!!! What is all that about??? We were not best pleased and bought pancakes and stomped off home!
Yesterday we decided that it was only right to do the thing that Vang Vieng is famous for, yep, tubing down the river. For those not in the know, you basically rent a black tube, float down the river and get chucked ropes by the bars that are down the riverside and they pull you in. You get very drunk and then get back in your tube to the next bar. All the bars give you free shots, the river has a really strong current and you can do big jumps using the ropes swings etc - all in all calling for a diaster but so so SO much fun!! By the second bar we had acquired our little tubing group having met three hilarious German guys (see pics) and went on our way getting very drunk, falling in the river, down the rocks etc. We spent the whole day doing it and loved it. I dont think I've laughed so much in the whole trip. By 6.30 it was starting to get dark and we had a half an hour tube ride down the river to get to the town. Had a bit of a mission attempting to get out the tube, dispite the big signs saying "DO NOT TUBE PAST THIS POINT" "STOP TUBING" and so on we didnt see any of them and it took two ten year old Laos girls to run out and grab our rings before we really got into trouble in the dark and in the fast currents and upcoming waterfalls - Oops!! What we didnt know when we were busy being grateful for the hand at getting us out the river (all three of us have grazes and bruises to prove that its not easy...after a few anyway) was that the girls were then going to fleece us for money and ran off with 10,000 kip - you dont get help for free here! They saw us three coming a mile off. We then had to trudge back to the guest house soaking wet...but it was worth it, brill day!
We carried on the drinking fun last night with ze Germans, had a good laugh, the monsoon style rain that keeps happening here decided to downpour whilst we were dancing in one outdoor bar so we ended up just dancing in the rain and jumping around looking like idiots, the photos say it all - we look rough, standard!!
After much deliberation we've made a decision. After realising first hand that its not much fun to travel in a country when its wet season, which is the case in all Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, we've decided to head back to Thailand and go down to Malaysia (the original plan). Why didnt we check the weather forecast before we came up here we dont know. Why we did it all on a random whim and now have to do the two day journey back, we also dont know (standard behaviour I suppose) but we've not wasted much money at all, had to get out the country anyway to get another Visa for Thailand and we've had a hoot in Veng Viang so we're not that bothered - surely this is what travelling is all about?!! We've realised that we are sun-lovers, yes we may look like wrinkly teabags by the time we're 35 but what the hell, we've worked hard to get this darker shade of white and decided we're not quite ready to lose it! So we're heading down to Malaysia tomorrow with one stop in Ko Tao to party a bit more with the friends we made there and have a fun dive, we're predictable we know!!! C'est la vie??!!!