Luang Prabang

We left Pai and spent two nights and three day travelling to Laos’ Luang Prabang. One of those three days was on an eight hour mini bus journey and the other two were on a “slow boat” down the Mekong.

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The experience was a cramped hell on water and land. If you plan on making this journey, save yourself the pain, discomfort, and anger. Fly from Chiang Mai or get a coach there.

Although, these Pringles made the journey a little more enjoyable…

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On the first night we arrived a couple of hours behind schedule. At the check in, which was more like a table at the end of a three sided room, a man was laying unconscious in front of the TV, our driver slapped him repeatedly and five minute later he arose bleary eyed and confused like a camel in the Antarctic who had lost his hump. The man was drunk and tried to check us in whilst simultaneously putting his jacket on inside out and upside down, it was painful to watch.

The room was very basic, a fellow guest was greeted by a substantial amount of the previous guests bowel movements, luckily in the toilet.

Lauren woke up ill that morning. We crossed the boarder into Laos (costing $35) and were flung on a cramped boat for eight hours and arrived at a very small town where we were royally ripped off by the tour organiser, we paid double the price of “turn up on the day guests” for a room that had holes in the wooden slatted walls and no air con. After marching to reception and protesting the manager became aggressive and eventually retreated to his excuse of conveniently not knowing enough english to resolve the situation. Eventually we moved rooms, this one had air con and fully functioning walls.

The following morning I wandered into town to grab a quick breakfast for the boat. Toasted bagel with cream cheese? If only they had smoked salmon, anyway I couldn’t resist. The reality of this was in fact a stale brioche bun heavily spread with butter with a small incision conveniently in the middle of it. Can’t fool me.

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That morning Lauren’s condition worsened, which wasn’t helped by an other eight hour cramped slow boat trip. By the time we arrived in Luang Prabang, Lauren needed to see a doctor. We headed to the hospital and were seen fairly quickly. I was shocked at the state of the hospital, it was filthy with cupboard doors hanging off, sinks were disconnected and the only running water I could find was coming out of the bottom washer in the toilet. Random hospital appliances were strewn on tables in the corridors and lizards scurried across the walls.

Lauren was put on a drip to restore lost fluids, seeing as she couldn’t keep anything down. She stayed in the hospital that night whilst I headed into town to find a room.

The good news is, Luang Prabang wasn’t all doom and gloom, it’s definitely worth a visit, here’s how it successfully redeemed itself…

The next morning Lauren was out of the hospital, we checked into Liberty Hostel (which I personally recommend). Lauren spend the rest of the day on bed rest, I rented a bike from the hostel and took a tour around town to see what it’s all about.

There was a monument of a previous president/Danny DeVito, along side a temple.

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A bamboo bridge that stretches across a channel leading to the Mekong river.

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The bridge only exists for six months of the year, when the rainy season comes the current becomes too strong and it is disassembled.

It costs the equivalent of Β£0.37 to cross the bridge, the money goes towards the bridges maintenance and provides a small income to the Lao family who built it.

An interesting relationship between a cat and a dog.

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Freshly cooked chicken with vegetables and rice, with a drink for less than Β£1.50.

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A great night market.

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The note at the front is 1 Laos Kip, the equivalent of Β£0.0001.

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The smallest cushions ever made.

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The cheapest all you can eat buffet I’ve ever seen.

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A primitive Nando’s.

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Plenty of temples.

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This ones just on the main street that is occupied nightly by the market.

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Good pizza is served from a wood fire oven, for the culturally ignorant.

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A 300 step climb to the top of mount phousi. I just missed sunset and it was foggy which was annoying. If you’re planning on going, head up around 5, hope it’s a clear day and it should be a good view…

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Saving the best till last, the Kuang Si waterfall.

This waterfall and it’s surroundings were every bit as impressive and surreal, if not more, than the photos show.

One main 200ft waterfall cascades down the cliff face and subsequently flows downstream into various levels of lagoons and streams where you can take a dip in the fresh turquoise water.

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I met some guys from Chile, Norway, and Canada. Some of us trekked up to the top of the waterfall. Doing this in flip flops made it more of a challenge.

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We took a dip in one of the pools.

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And wondered around for the rest of the afternoon…

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The park even has a centre that rescues bears…

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Next stop… Vietnam!

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