Am early start and a seven hour journey bought us to the country's former capital of Luang Probang. Kate was almost sick on the journey, as it was her turn to sit next to Monika, who we have all decided resembles a velocerapter, - you know those little annoying ones in Jurassic Park - in all her manners and actions. As poor Kate felt more nauseous by the minute, Monika would lean across and breath in her face, or rest her head upon her shoulder, which Kate would hastily shake off.
When we did eventually arrive, and Kate had somehow managed to curb her sickness, we realised we were staying at the top of a dirt track, which appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. Excellent. It appeared that we would ahve to take a tuk tuk every time we wanted to get into town. The hotel was brand new, and I think we were it's first guests, yet somehow, they were still cleaning the rooms when we arrived. They hadn't had all week to prepare for this many people obviously.
Once settled in, we went to explore the delights that this town had to offer. Already, it is much larger than Vientiene, with more than three streets. It was starting to look positive. Saying that, it still has no material to warrant it's p;ace as a capital city or even a large town. Nevertheless, we found a place to eat and then explored the night market - withoutdoubt the best market to date, and the overwhelming sense of wanting/needing to buy swept over me once more. I settled on a few bracelets, pictures, and a notebook, and resisted against the rest of the goods, however much they called out to me.
The following morning, we awoke bright and early to watch alms giving. The local people all prepare and cook food, and give out fruit each morning as the monks walk to the mountain temple to prey. Hundreds of monks pased by in their varying orange or red robes, as the food was handed to them one by one. Old and young, they strode single filed, bare foot and with purpose. As the procession drew to a close, we got in a tuk tuk and went home, and back to bed - it was after all, only five thirty am.
Later that day after our sleep, we took a tuk tuk, (there are no taxi's in this place, as it's not big enough apparantly - so why there are in the capital Vientiene, is beyond me) to some nearby waterfalls. I was slightly disappointed they weren't quite as spectacular as anticipated, however all waterfalls are beautiful in some way as they cascade effortlessly over the jagged rock formations. We wached on as three young girls were catching crabs from the waters beneth the plunge pool. They had dozens of the little things. Some pools, like this one, swimming wasn't allowed, but we did swim in some of the other plungs pools further down the falls. It felt good to be amongst nature. Why we were staying in this town for three days, I'll never know - two days would have been sufficient time indeed. And, I'm sure everyone - Monika excluded would have wanted an extra day to go tubing in Vang Vieng. Although, I can only presume only one day is allocated to do this as the risks involved in the activity are so high, and G.A.P are only covering their backs, even though we signed a consent form to say we wouldn't sue them. With little else to do that afternoon, we explored the market once again, and ate lunch, and drank beer. There is a government curfew in Laos that everything should close by 11pm, and everyone should be abck in their homes, or hotels by 12, so by 11pm sharp, lights shut off, and people are hurried along to their next destination.The police are much more lax towards tourists however, and the one place that does stay open slightly later is the bowling alley. We experienced this wonder the following night. Woohoo - a lie in was had! Well, as much of a lie in as I was ever going to get on this trip. Emily and Kate had arranged a trip that morning to go elephant trekking, I hadn't fancied it , as I don't really agree with it. So, instead I used the opportunity to use the internet, and update my blog as I had been so far behind. We had a lazy afternoon, and I really felt we had fully adapted to the Laos way of life - laid back and relaxed. Everything is slow here. And now we were too. The heat is insane, it's an effort to lift a glass from a table and put it to your lips. We decided to up the pace ever so slightly, by climbing a 'mountain' to watch the sunset over the Mekong River, and the town below us. We hauled ourselves up the steps, and admired the view from the top. It was pretty stunning, with themountains shielding the river, and the remains of the sun glisening on the water. Sellers lined the stairs on the way up, all offering little sparrows in makeshift cages. We each bought one, and set them free at the top. I hope they don't get caught again. Once the sun had fully dropped, and photographs hadbeen taken, we made the desent, and met up with Kate and Emily for tea.
That night, after a few drinks, we headed to the bowling alley - I couldn't quite believe we were all this way from homee and we were going bowling. As our tuk tuk pulled up, the small building resembled a community centre. There were arounnd five lanes and a bar, nothing more, nothing less. There were a few locals, who obviously frequent the alley every night, as their bowling skills were impecable. Ours, however weren't quite up to scratch - although this may have been influenced by the fact the lane wasn't flat. Neverheless, ino game two, yes we had twon games - I managed a strike, and came second! We retired to the hotel for a good night's sleep, knowing that we had a two day boat journing down the Mekong ahead of us.