travel log from 7:30PM 08-07-2010 untill 6:30PM 14-07-2010
14.07.2010 32 °C
We were about to leave the capital of Laos to head north towards the beautiful mountains, when the Asian inefficiency proved itself once again. We had been waiting for the past 45 minutes to be picked up by a “Jumbo” (bigger TukTuk) with 5 people at the doorsteps of our guesthouse. Apparently there were 3 different companies selling the same service and instead of 1 pickup per address they believed it was better to organize pickups according to the booking company. So, the 5 of us where picked up by 3 different empty trucks. We all travelled from the same place to the same destination. Really efficient once again…
Once we had arrived at the bus station, I changed some money to get Laura a freshly made Crepe au sucre, crafted by a mobile crepe shop from one of the locals. Our seats 30 and 31 were good seats right behind the stairways. Lots of space for our legs and the possibility to lean all the way back.
A smelly fisherman joined us in the bus after 5 minutes of driving with an open door. Finally, when we drove about 40-50km/h, the driver decided to close the bus door and set course north east towards Luang Prabang.
Regularly we made stops in order not to overheat, the aircon that was promised us was not working up to standard. The VIP bus ticket meant: 1 free meal, 1 free bottle of water, possibility to lean back, air-conditioning on the bus, 1 straight line to the destination. So far everything except for the aircon was taken care of. The Laos highway restaurant where we stopped had absolutely amazing noodle soup! But, the toilets were…well… too terrible to write about. Quickly, all back on the bus because our grumpy bus driver was not in the mood to wait for anyone. The nightbus was a good option for us, we skipped one night in a guesthouse and traveled at the same time, you basically win one day using this method of transportation.
After a good 10 hours drive we arrived at the northern bus station of Luang Prabang at around 6 am. We were welcomed by a large group of enthusiastic tuktuk drivers that all wanted a share of the morning catch of freshly arrived tourists. We dealt a price of 2 euros and got dropped of at the Chitanna guesthouse in the center of town. Very well hidden away from the main road but very clean rooms and friendly staff were waiting for us. Above our daily budget, we agreed to a price of 7euros for the night. The only minor point about our room was the shower. The water pressure disappeared after 30 seconds of cold water and only little drops of water came from the showerhead.
We had an amazing time in and around this lovely little town. Many cool caves to explore and of course the impressive Kuang Si waterfalls! Like a fairytale falling right onto your lap! We posted about 5 pictures of these dream waterfalls in the public gallery.
In the late afternoon and early morning of the following day we were on the hunt for nice souvenirs. We were not successful because we found that the prices in Luang Prabang were much higher than in other parts of Laos. We decided to spend some more time in other smaller towns to catch the items we were looking for.
Thanks to the great experience with the night bus service from last time we bought 2 tickets for the night bus towards Vang Vieng (The ultimate party town and relaxing place of Laos). Unfortunately, we encountered a thunderstorm on the way to the Ibiza of Laos and it took us instead of 6 hours 12 hours to get to Vang Vieng. Moreover, we were seated in the baggage space on the lower deck together with the locals. No aircon, no water, no comfortable seats and 6 hours longer than expected. This drive in the night bus was a disaster. So far it is 1-1 for good and bad experiences with night services. The city of Vang Vieng itself is made of bars, bars, bars restaurants, restaurants, guest houses, hotels, hostels and ATM machines. The main reason for this little town to have been able to grown out into a party city is its famous TUBING. Tubing is the name given to the activity of renting a big tube (truck size inner tube) and floating down the river that embraces the city of Vang Vieng. For 5,5euro you get a tube and a tuktuk ride upstream. At the starting point, about 2,5km from the city, you jump into your personal tube and let yourself easily float down the river. The views are amazing and the water is nice refreshing. Along the riversides loads of bars have positioned themselves wisely. Lao locals with long ropes and smaller rubber tubes attached to the other end of their rope pull in the young tourists that are floating by. One by one youngster’s gather on the shores of the river to enjoy a drink accompanied by loud music and crazy activities organized by the bars. The Tubing scene has grown amazingly fast in the last couple of years and is now for many the only reason the visit Laos.
Since we left our TukTuk on the parking place of a guesthouse we had to head back in order to prepare the departure of the TukTuk express. After the last bad experience we had with the nightbus we made up our minds and joined the friendly couples from Holland and Mexico that we met during Tubing. They had plans to row back to the capital in a kayak instead of the boring old bus. In total we were 10 adventurous young people that took the challenge and left the following morning at 9.30 by Jumbo to the drop off site to start our kayak journey. Unfortunately we couldn’t make any photos during the water ride. The river was in certain places much wilder than we had anticipated. I was able to make a short movie just before the start of the white water rafting parts. Upon arrival in the capital we said goodbye to our new friends, Fernando and Anna from Mexico, Robert and Elke from the Netherlands. We picked up the TukTuk and headed for the Youth Inn 1 guesthouse where our other bags that we had left behind were still waiting for us.
From here we will make ourselves ready to leave Laos behind and cross the border to head towards the north of Thailand. In Chiang Mai our adventures will continue, we keep in touch.
Much love Coen en Laura!!!!