From the last update I was heading east from Northern Thailand to cross the border into Laos. A country of 6.5 million people and enough land mines to blow up a small island, it’s definitely a country of risks. Unfortunately the tourist trail is well trodden (like most of SEAsia) and its hard to experience the real Laos. But adventure awaits…
Before departing Thailand we make a quick stop at the unforgettable White Temple in Chiang Rai. It’s the most unique and bizzare place. Its full of evil demons, predators coming out of the ground and even pictures of spiderman painted on the temple walls. From here it’s the much talked about (and feared) slow boat to Luang Prabang. As opposed to the fast boat which is prone to many sinking disasters and loss of lives the slow boat takes 2 days to move along the Mekong river past little wooden shack houses sprawled across the river front with large green mountains in the distance. The river is a orange brown and really doesn’t look safe for swimming .
I was warned about the horrific situations of cramming and capsizing of these boats but I was glad to find it was nothing like I imagined. Yes it was a dodgy looking boat but was very spacious, comfortable car seats to sit on and not that slow as the title would suggest. In fact as I was travelling with a group of 12 of more fellow travellers from many nationalities it was eventually renamed ‘the party boat’. Drinking cheap rum and snake whiskey (whiskey with a snake or scorpion inside) generally began soon after departure in the early hours of the day.
Thigh muscles are getting exponentially stronger by the day. Partly from carrying my pack, and partly from using “Squat” toilets?
The food in Laos is similar to that of its neighbors but less spicy than Thailand and also quite French influenced with sandwich baguettes everywhere. There’s also an array of Oreo shakes everywhere (with additional ingedients of peanut butter, banana and chocolate). Woooo… Buzzin! The currency is my only dislike of the country. €80 is approx $1,000,000 kip. So it’s quite easy to be a billionaire in this country, and then up losing it all in a drunken mess as the notes just “weigh you down”.
Arrive in style to Luang Prabang and celebrate by heavy drinking, jumping off waterfalls and some great food. The small town has a very openly laid back appeal. At night all the bars have a curfew at 11pm so if you want to continue the party you can head off to late night bowling that stays open till 3am and serves €1 bottles of whiskey. Whats to dislike really???
Pros: cheap food and drink (quality might not be amazing but the price is). Trendy restaurants and french bakeries. The locals aren’t as in your face as Thai people. Views on the slow boat. Paying €1 for accommodation
Cons: bar curfews, some disrespectful backpackers, tourist trails, land mines, difficult to break away from the crowds.