11 May 2012

Bon Voyage from Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng was so nice I wanted to stay another 4 nights to enjoy this sleepy party town on the river.  I said goodbye to the girls as they zoomed off to Vietnam on the night bus farther north.  This was the last morning in our beautiful room at TCK Trekking.  I found a nice spot for single room closer to the river with lots of plants around.  You can never go wrong if you have lots of plant. 

After settling again I went down by the river and drew in my sketchpad while lying in a hammock.  The day was spent relaxing and doing a little research on where to would go next.  I had an idea of a few things such as a) See Luang Prabang, b) Take the slow boat to Thailand, and c) Take the Train from Chaing Mai back to Bangkok.  I opened up my calendar and did the math on how much time it would take to travel, and how many days I wanted to spend in each city.  Turned out I had none, and should be out of the city the next evening.  So I enjoyed one last night in Vang Vieng with the guys and was off.

The night bus was great, I would always suggest taking it over the regulare bus.  It costs only a few dollars more and you have a bed on a bus that acts as a room, and you set up to enjoy a full day seeing a new city verses sitting on a hot bus.  However, you should be weary of arrival times.

My bus arrived 4 a.m. and with most places in Loas, nothing is open 24hours.  Not knowing where I was in relashionship to the city I was forced to trust the tuktuk driver to take me to a hotel.  One thing I've noticed about traveling is that when people know they have something you need, they charge a high price and do not bargain down.  So after agreeing to pay more then I should for a ride into town, they asked for the money up-front.  The sleepy me almost agreed, then I remembered that my money is the only thing that gives me the upper hand in this situation.  So I told them I would pay on arrival and they finally agreed.  After driving only a little ways and passing several hotels, all of which were closed, he takes a turn down a dirt road and starts heading into a field.

At this point, I don't feel danger, but irritated that this is actually happening.  The Tuktuk stops and the driver gets out and points up to a road and says "Hotel."   I grabs my bags and start walking away.  I get up to the road and there is no hotel, and I'm not even sure where I am in relationship to the town.  After he hastles me to "pay now" and me saying things I'm sure he didn't understand, I walk away from the situation without paying him.

I walked for about 10 mins, and noticed a cute little road and I decide to walk down it.  A nice looking guesthouse was lit up at the sign so I sat myself underneath until someone arrived to open the gates.  The first person to come out was a woman on her way to feed the monks.  She invited me to join her and I left my stuff inside the gate.  Afterwards when we came back to the guesthouse, I asked for a room. It being three or four times more then I was willing to pay I was hestitant.  But they offered me to leave my stuff and use the bathroom or even shower while I waited for my room.  Once I walked into the guest bathroom and seeing it was made of marble, I thought, "hey, its just one night."  I booked the room, and joined the woman for breakfast only to discover she was from my hometown.

For the last month I kept thinking, I'm never going to run into someone who knows about Bellingham.  But her she was.  Being that I only had one day in town, I wanted to see the waterfalls and she was willing to join me.  Trying to bargan down our tuktuk we invited three more people, some brits on their year abroad from our guesthouse, along for the ride.

Sign say: If Can't Swim, Do Not Swim

The falls were amazing, and everyone was aloud to sim around.  There were several different levels of pools and all of them a brilliant teal blue color.

Later it started rianing.

We were in the jungle and unrecognizable fruit-vines grew on the trees.

This was the big waterfall at the top.  There was a trail to the top, but no one felt like joining me.

Later that night, the whole group went for dinner at a nice BBQ restaurant.  They brought a bucket to the table with hot coals and put a metal bucket over top.  It was shaped that you could soak noodles and vegetables in broth around the outer rim, and in the center an area that lifted up where you could lay thinly sliced pieces of meat and tofu.  You them broke an egg into the broth and scooped the soup into a bowl with pieces of meat, and added a spicy peanut sauce.  It was an extraordinary meal, and a great group to share it with.
In the morning, I once again joined my new friends for the morning ritual of feeding the monks.  Every person in Laos becomes a monk for at least three months, and sometimes as long as 7 years.  Traditionally they are not aloud to own possessions (However you now often see them with phones and cameras) so every morning they walk the streets with bowl and accept offering from the people in the town for their daily food.

Next Journey, the two day slow boat on the Mekong to the Thailand boarder.

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