Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Now in Laos!

With our passports stamped and a 30 day visa in tow we made our way towards the harbour on the Mekong river on the Laos side to catch the 'slow boat' to our first stop... Luang Prabang!

As the name suggests the slow boat was pretty slow... It took us two full days (10 hours per day) with a stop over in pakbeng, to get to our destination. The boat itself can only be described as a rickety old long boat that got packed to the rafters with travellers and locals alike, so much so that the late comers were ushered onto the roof! Each person brought with them about 15kg of luggage that was stored 'below deck' (basically they just lifted up the floor boards of the boat and chucked everything underneath!)!

Across the two days Alec and I made constant evaluations on the boats safety and had several escape routes planned and ready to implement should things go ariy. To say that these two days were the most nervous we had felt all trip would be an understatement. The boat was heavy leaning to one side and we often felt that it was about to capsize! However we got to the end of the second day safely be it with a few stories to tell about a drunk Japanese man who fell overboard! Have you ever heard 'no woman, no cry' sung by a sluring Japanese man who can't pronounce W's or R's? Trust me, you don't want too!

Onto Luang Prabang...
From 1893 to 1953 (with a few exceptions) Laos was under the control of the French which explains the cultural influences of this diverse country. Luang Prabang is one of many towns where European construction techniques and architectural designs can still be seen today.

Riding through this sleepy town on a hired bicycle it's hard to remember to say kob chai instead of merci to the local people. However the night food markets are far from coffee and croissants, here we paid under £2.50 for two BIG plates of freshly cooked Lao food and two bottles of water. And what a magnificent feast it was. As well as full tummys we also came away with an authentic recipe (noted down on a napkin) for Lao sour pork sausages passed on to us by a local street vendor who spoke broken English.

The location of Luang Prabang is set right on Mekong river making for a perfect bicycle ride to one of the many markets in the area. These markets sell anything from tourist junk to hand made silver jewellery. I myself came away with 4 bags of different types of tea (about 50p each)!

We have spent our time here reading in temple gardens, relaxing in the colonial cafes and enjoying the many different Lao dishes, we even managed to catch a hip hop show, tomorrow however we are on the road again (note, not by another boat!) heading towards Vang Vieng, tubing capital of the world!!