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November 04, 2005

Motorcycle Emptiness

Typhoon Kai Tak has meant that Rob and I have been stuck inside a bit more than normal so I've had a bit of time to put the Laos photos together for the site. Also have a look at the photos from Khao Yai - some comedy frog eating photos have been added (plus some other ones) that were missing before.


After a stealthy shopping session in Bangkok (getting a new camera and Rob's phone fixed amoungst other things) and the fastest packing session on record, we arrived at the airport at a healthy forty minutes before our flight was due to leave - I had been pretty sure we weren't going to make it to Laos when we were still checking out of the hotel at about 1 hour before take off time but we had Mr Wheeler's expert plane catching luck on our side this time. We arrived in Vientiane by prop plane - two seats each side and much louder than a normal jet plane but still ok.

In Vientiane we rented motorbikes again so we could get round the city with some speed and also go to the Buddha Park which was about 25km away. It was almost like we knew what we were doing this time, until we forgot that people drove on the right not the left side of the road as in Thailand. Doh. Once we had sorted out that minor hitch, we rode to see Pha That Luang (the gold stupa, symbol of Laos), Patuxai (Victory Gate - very Arc de Triomphe looking) and then to the fantastic Buddha Park which also has a huge pumpkin than you can climb up inside.

On the way back we stopped at what we thought to be a shop selling drinks and we only realised later that infact it was actually someone's house. It must have looked quite strange, us stopping at their front door asking for a drink of water, them kindly offering us filtered water or beer and then us saying bottled water will only do. doh! Anyway as punishment/reward, that evening we stopped for a beer in the nightclub next door to our hotel, which was rather like we had stumbled upon a Lao wedding evening do.

The next day we took a bus to Vang Vieng - it kept stopping to load on/ off more stuff (mostly sacks of rice I think). Dad would be impressed - stuff was piled on top of the bus, between the seats and any other spare space, sometimes a motorbike or bed would be on the roof-rack too.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is a kind of Khao San Road of Laos but on a much smaller scale. We hired bikes again and rode out to some of the villages, it was cool to see the kids ride past waving and shouting Sabbai dee (hello)! The scenery is around Vang Vieng is beautiful - small villages set against limestone peaks next to the Mekong.

Luang Prabang

Next we took a minibus to Luang Prabang. We stayed in a great guesthouse (called Sysomphone Guesthouse) where Steve had stayed last time - it was run by a friendly old couple who fed us lots of Lao Lao (Lao whisky) and bananas.

We were going to hire bikes again in Luang Prabang but it turned out that the city now no longer allows bike rental for tourists. Instead we hopped on a boat which took us to see some of the sites (eek, non of which I can remember the name of) but the boat ride itself was pretty cool :). The last morning Steve and I got up at a shocking 5-30am to see the alms procession of the buddist monks. There were at least 100 monks lined up and being given food by people on the streets.

The journey back from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng was a pretty long bumpy one and we had to get up early the next day after a late night to get the first bus back to Vientiane for our flights. The bus stopped an amazing 3 times to change the wheels (Lao roads are not finished quite to UK standards) and eventually we changed buses and managed to get to the airport at least an hour before Steve had to catch his flight :).

[2 Vientiane galleries here and here]
[2 Vang Vieng galleries here and here]
[2 Luang Prabang galleries here and here]

Posted by deb at November 4, 2005 05:56 AM


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