We arrived into Laos after a 6 hour bus journey and a stress-free border crossing. We spent our first night in Laos in Muang Khua, a really pretty, small town of around 3000 people set on the banks of the Nam Ou river – its only within the last two years that an ATM was installed and 24 hour electricity! Our accommodation was a wooden bungalow on stilts over the river. We loved walking around the small town and enjoyed the change of pace from Vietnam to the slow motion of Laos. Our guesthouse owner was a jolly old man, and provided us with a feast for dinner washed down with “lao lao” (homemade rice-whiskey)! which we shared with two great guys (the only other travellers there – Jeremy from France and Manuel from Uruguay) who we ended up spending the next week travelling through Laos with.
To head down river by boat from here, there needs to be at least 10 people wanting to catch the boat – luckily for us, this happened to be the case the very next morning.
Muang Ngoi Neua
The 5 hour trip down the river, on a tiny wooden boat was cramped but spectacular. The river meandered through mountains and at parts, rapids. The wooden planks used as seats were a little uncomfortable, so we were happy to arrive to the quiet town of Muang Ngoi Neua, which has no roads in our out, and is only accessible by boat.
Our accommodation was again overlooking the river and mountains, and was the perfect setting to watch the sunset with an ice-cold Lau Beer, and Manu playing his eucalalie.
We fell in love with the charm of this sleepy place and decided to stay for an extra night. The next day 7 of us (I think the only 7 travellers in the town) went on a fishing trip with 2 local fisherman where they used traditional methods to catch fish. We then stopped on the banks of the river, collected wood and made a fire to cook the fish, with chilli and sticky rice. It was a cool experience and the first time Danielle had ever eaten a whole fish – again washed down with homemade rice-whiskey!
After lunch we went to explore a cave, and then the best part – tubing all the way back down the river! This was so much fun, so relaxing although it took about 3 hours as there was no current at parts.
We took a boat, followed by a minibus (which broke down part way, so we transferred onto an open-back truck for the remainder of the way – usually seats 15 people, but with us and the locals there were 26 people, a duck and a chicken!) We arrived into Luang Probang at around 3.30pm. We really liked Luang Prabang!
We stayed 4 nights here, hanging with Jeremy and Manuel most days and some other great people who we had met here. The highlights would have to be the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls – tumbling over the limestone formations into a series of turquoise green pools which we could swim in, the view from the top of the Phu St hill at sunset which had 360degree views of Luang Prabang, and the chat and Lao beers with our friends at Utopia Bar. All of the bars here close at 11.30pm, and the only place to carry on the party is at the local bowling place, so, when in Rome….!!
And the money shot from the waterfalls…..:
From Luang Prabang we took an 8 hour (which turned out to be 12 hour) bus journey to Vientiane. We only had a day in Vientiane before we had to get our flights to London, so we didn’t have time to see much besides walking around town past the Presidential Palace, admiring all of the French architecture and looking out over the Mekong River for the last time!