Phew, Ive got to tell you, todays a scorcher !
I'm now in Vientiane. I've been in Laos for 8 days now. Its a really beautiful country, the scenery is amazing. The journey into Laos is not something I'm eager to do again in a hurry. I took a bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong, then crossed the border into Laos and travelled by slow boat (very slow boat) to Luang Prabang. This took two days. I'm not gonna lie to you, after 3 hours of sitting on a wooden bench on a packed out slow boat I was considering throwing myself over board! I lost the will to live at the thought of a second day on the boat. We stopped at Pak Beng for the night, which is like the back of beyond. It was only after staying here that we were all more than happy to get back on the boat the next day. People had rooms broken into and hands coming through the windows trying to grab belongings. We constantly had people pestering us to buy opium and every other drug you could possibly want. Looking back it was quite funny though and I met so many people on the boat. Made a few mates who are all on the same route through Laos. The scenery down the river was amazing, some of the most beautiful I have seen yet.
It was a relief to arrive in Luang Prabang. Its so laid back and relaxed, much better than I had expected after a night in Pak Beng. I'm not sure why but we had a resident monk at our guest house, it was quite novel to come down to breakfast to find him and a few of his mates all watching wrestling. They love it! There is quite alot of things to see, the Palace Museum and lots of Wats and Temples if you've not already had enough of them. Watching the sunset over the mountains from Phu Si hill was pretty good. I visited the Kuang Si waterfalls which were amazing. They also had bears here and a tiger who was more than happy to pose for photo's. After 3 days here I headed down to Vang Vieng which is pretty cool. Unfortunately I developed a bit of a dickie tummy here and so wasnt able to go "Tubing" down the river. I didnt want to be in a rubber ring somewhere on the Mekong with a sudden urge to go to the loo. All the reports were good though. Its a little bit smaller than Luang Prabang, in fact theres only 2 streets. But there are some really cool bars and everywhere plays episodes of friends all day, which was good for an afternoon. Met some interesting people, most of whom were pretty much out of it the entire time I was there. Very amusing.
So now I'm in Vientiane and heading upto Vietnam tomorrow. Im not relishing the prospect of a 24 hour bus ride to Hanoi, I did try to get a flight but they are all booked up over the next few days. Oh well the bus is much cheaper anyway. Last night I went out with a "geezer bird" I met on the bus who proceeded to whoop my ass at pool and completely drink me under the table! This morning I have been to Pha That Luang which is apparently the most important monument in all of Laos, and is an impressive site. Im gonna take the rest of the day easy, I dont want to over do it. Im heading out to Wat Sok Pa Luang this afternoon for a herbal sauna and traditional Laos massage (legitimate massge - no funny business I can assure you). This is famous temple out in the forest - sounds really good. Will let you know how it is.
The massage was amazing, I recommend it to anyone visiting Laos. When you arrive you are directed to the changing room were you have to strip. Dont worry, they do give you a sarong to cover your modesty ha ha. You really havent lived until you have had a small Lao woman walk up and down your back and literally crack ever bone and joint in your body. I cant say it was all pain free but you do feel great afterwards.