Hello journal. We made it to Laos! We've also made it back into shorts and t-shirts, leaving the snow behind us with China.
We spent the last few days in China hiking along Tiger Leaping Gorge. Its the deepest canyon in the world. We're not sure what happened to the grand canyon when we were told that fact. So the walking was scenic, and the locals inbred and insane. Its a shame that for some reason they were constantly blowing up parts of the gorge, they seem to like damaging the environment in China. Illegal logging is another favourite. After our hike we returned to Lijiang, a place the guidebook describes as "an example of how unregulated mass tourism can rip the heart out of a place". We thought that was a little harsh, though we understood the statement in greater depth when we found ourselves frequently swallowed up by large Chinese tour groups. The Chinese take just as many corny photos in China as they do in Bath. We flew out of Lijiang to Jinghong, a flight of which took only 50 mins, but saved us a 40hr bus ride. Our arrival was hectic, as it was late in the evening and the approach to Chinese new year meant that everywhere was full. We met a friendly man who reccomended a place in the red light district, so we were relieved when we stumbled on a guesthouse on the way.
The next morning we got an early bus to Mengla. This bus was so early and we arrived so late that sleeping in our clothes and not bothering to open our bags that night seemed like a good option. The roads to Mengla were slow and windy, through the picturesque mountains and rubber plantations. The kid infront of us had pretty bad motion sickness and unfortunately her family didnt bring enough plastic bags. She tried to godge out of the window, despite sitting in an aisle seat. Unsuprisingly, the wind blew her sick back into the bus, onto the poor passengers behind her (us!). When we arrived in Mengla, wearing sick, we got a man to pedal us in a cart to the other bus station. We then took a ride to the Laos border, where we hitched another ride across. The guidebook informed us that the border town had accomodation, which in fact it didnt. We had also missed the last bus. Somehow we managed to get on a truck with some Lao women to a place so unsignificant we cant remember the name. There we sat by the road for a while, before getting onto another minibus to "Laos' Northern transport hub, Udomxai". There we spent the night before tackling more transit onto Luang Prabang.
We have realized that we are running out of time on our travels, as we only have untill the 26th before we return home. We only spent a day in Luang Prabang, hiring bikes and savouring the local cuisine. Coming from China where we had only seen a couple of white people, we found it surreal arriving in the tourist town of Luang Prabang. For some reason, most of the tourists in Laos are English. A Bristolian accent was particularly easy to pick out when queing at the money-exchange. It is quite obvious that we are not yet used to being back in South East Asia again, as yesterday Sarah was shocked when a moped was driving towards her on the pavement.
Another bus journey today brought us to Vang Vieng. Capital of the 'TV Bars'. We are planning to go Tubing, Kayacking and Cave-watching in the next few days, before we head onto the capital, and our final destination in Laos, Vientiaine.
We feel as though we need to reassure you that we will not be missing out in any way this pancake day. The abundance of pancakes in Laos is special. We plan to have a pancake with a different topping for each meal to celebrate shrove tuesday.(7 hours earlier than you! HAHAHAhaha...)
Hope all is well in Sunny England,
Sarah & Zoe x