I have finished transcribing my pre-written entries … so from here on out, it will be more of a timely update (provided I can get a good wifi connection!)
It’s been just over a week since my last entry … after Chiang Mai we made the 3-4 hour van ride South West to a small hippie village of Pai. There wasn’t a lot goingon here … the town itself seemed to operate on it’s own terms … and it wasn’t uncommon for shops and restaurants to open from 5 – 8 PM. We would wake up early and walk around the town, but it honestly felt like a ghost town with little going on and few people strolling about. At night people started coming out of the woodwork to open their shops along the night market – and to take part in the endless amounts of live music – but after a couple hours, they’d pack it in for the night.
On our last day in Pai we rented a scooter and decided to check out a local waterfall outside of town. It was a fun little ride … we nominated Maria has driver after I nearly drove into oncoming traffic and a parked vehicle – hahaha so with Maria driving, it was my duty to provide the entertainment. So we scootered around while I sang songs from every Disney movie I knew. Our last day we went and checked out the local swimming pool as well which was pretty refreshing, but aside from that, there wasn’t a whole lot to do, so we only spent 2 nights there. But I really liked the small town feel of the place and it made for some great rest and relaxation!
From there we booked our ticket to Luang Probang in Laos. – not an easy trip. From Pai we had to take a night van through the windy, mountainous roads … by van for about 6 hours, arriving at the guest house at around 2 or 3 in the morning. We “slept” for about 4 hours before we were awoken by the owner singing us Happy Birthday. We had breakfast then headed to the Laos-Thailand “border” which was nothing more than a fence with a sign … paid our fees for the Laos visa, then headed across the river to Laos immigration. From there we were granted our visas and boarded the slow boat. We spent the next 8 hours on the boat before arriving in a small town for the night. We located our guest house, had some dinner and then did some mingling with our new buddies from the boat. (After 24 hours in small areas with people, it’s amazing how well you get to know each other!) The next day, it was early to rise again and back on the slow boat for another 9 hours to Luang Probang. We arrived in the early evening and found a guest house with our new group of travel “mates” (a majority of them being British and Australian) then it was dinner time and bed time shortly after.
The next day Maria and I rented bicycles for the day at about $2 dollars a day … and we decided around lunch time – at the peak of the sun – that we were going to ride our bikes to the infamous waterfall nearby. And well, Lonely Planet said we could make the treak, so we were bound and determined to go. To our dismay, after about 10 KMs into the 35 KM journey on our cruising, gearless, basket bikes, we turned around and headed back to Luang Probang. We cruised around the small French town and decided we put forth a great effort. We rewarded ourselves with a nap then it was off to bowling for a girl’s birthday. The shops, restaurants and bars all close here around 11 PM so the thing to do is to go bowling as it’s the only place that stays open. So we did just that. We can now say we came to Luang Probang and bowled. Two games.
The next day we slept in and decided to do like the majority, and hired a driver to take us to the waterfall. Thank goodness we did! After hitting the 10 KM point in which we turned around on our bikes, the terrain got rather challenging – and without well equipped mountain bikes, we never would have made it there – let alone there and back – before dark. haha
We spent the afternoon climbing to the top of the waterfall and swimming in the swimming holes at the base of the waterfall. Then it was back to Luang Probang where we ate dinner at the night market – we shared a large buffet plate for 10,000 kip which is about $1.25 USD – and we were stuffed. We walked around the market then made it home and passed out by 7 where we basically slept for the entire night.
We booked our bus ticket from Luang Probang to Vang Vieng … the 6 hour bus ride … we arranged to be picked up at 10 AM from our guest house. At 10:45 when no one showed up, we inquired about the location of our bus and we were informed that – in true Laos transportation style – it had broken down and the next bus wouldn’t be available about 1:30. So, we are now killing time until our bus leaves at 1:30.
Vang Vieng is the main tourist attraction popular for it’s tubing. We won’t be getting in until late tonight now, so tomorrow we will make a day of tubing down the river and exploring the ruins outside the city.