09.03.2012 - 13.03.2012 35 °C
There will be a post coming soon about our time in Chiang Rai, Houay Xai and our two days on the slow boat to Luang Prabang, but Stephen has said he'll write that one so it may well be a while!
We haven't done a lot over the last few days, just of a lot of chilling out! But that's been nice for us
We arrived into Luang Prabang at about 6pm, after 8.5 hours on the slow boat from Pak Beng. We had booked our accommodation a few days ago through hostelworld - 5 nights at SpicyLaos hostel (one of only 2 hostels in Luang Prabang) for £2.50 a night. I didn't really want to stay there as I really don't like hostels and this one seemed particularly unappealing from the photos, but I agreed to it anyway as Stephen wanted to, and staying in hostels is a good way to meet people. Anyway, within 20 seconds of arriving at the hostel I knew I didn't want to stay there, it was dirty, hot, full of mosquitoes and bugs, the bed sheets hadn't been changed and the mattress was so thin and also completely squashed down so it might as well have been non-existent! There were very few toilets and showers and many of the toilets didn't even have a seat!
After dumping our bags near our beds we went out to find some food and a city map. Unfortunately I couldn't help but cry on this walk - I'd been stuck on an uncomfortable and very slow boat for 2 days and just wanted a decent place to sleep! Stephen wasn't that fussed about the hostel, but he could understand why I wouldn't want to stay there so we agreed to stay for just one night (and hope they didn't charge us for the other 4) and then look for somewhere else the next day.
While looking for somewhere for dinner we realised that everything is quite expensive here, despite it being the 20th poorest country in the world (it's because they import everything). After a decent dinner and some drinks we headed back to the hostel and had a very uncomfortable and hot night's sleep.
I set my alarm for 8am this morning, and got up and packed almost straight away. I'd slept in my clothes and just kept these same clothes on for today, didn't shower and didn't even brush my teeth - I just wanted to be out of there asap! Over breakfast we looked up other possible places to stay and decided to check out the other hostel in town. At only 40p more than SpicyLaos I wasn't too hopeful, but when we arrived and looked at a room we were pleasantly surprised so I am now happy and stress-free again! The only hiccup today has been that I got very upset when I saw some van drivers run over a sleeping dog's foot (not sure if it was a stray or not), but they didn't seem to care at all and the dog was yelping and crying and limping a lot - very upsetting for an animal lover like me!
We didn't do a lot the rest of the day. Stephen didn't feel very well so we did quite a bit of sleeping!
We decided we'd be a bit more productive today and go to the waterfall that seems to be the main attraction in Luang Prabang. After a fairly early breakfast, we organised for a tuk-tuk to take us to the waterfall. He wanted to take us at 11:30 so we had an hour to kill so we walked up to the temple on the hill in the middle of town. There was a a pretty good view over the city from the top:
The weather looks terrible in the picture but it's just all the smoke from the burning, it was actually quite sunny and hot!
When it got to 11:30 we headed back to the tuk-tuk man and found he had gathered some more people to come along - a German couple, (Marita and Sven) a French girl (Sara) and a Thai girl (Narawak). It was a pretty bumpy hour in the tuk-tuk but it was well worth it! The waterfall was beautiful and we had a fun time climbing up to the top and having a swim.
Khon Si Waterfall - the water was so blue and it had loads of different levels
When we got back into town we all arranged to meet for beers in the evening after dinner. Stephen still didn't feel great so we decided to go to a nice restaurant we'd seen the night before to play it safe. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a very bad idea. We both ordered the same thing and both ended up throwing up all night - not great when you're in an 8-bed dorm and the water has been turned off for the night!
We'd booked to go on a 7 hour hike today. Stephen felt a bit better, but I was still being sick when he got up so he had to go on his own. Here's his account of the trek:
So after leaving Charlotte in the capable hands of an Irish girl from our dorm I met the 4 girls who would be going hiking with me. We hopped into a pickup truck where we were driven to the start point, an elephant place like the one we went to. On the way I saw a full size JCB digger upside down in the middle of the road with a lot of confused men standing around but alas, no photo.
After a little boat ride we started walking up and down mountains a lot which is quite a difficult thing to do if you've spent all night being sick rather than sleeping and were unable to eat/drink anything before setting off. Some nice views though:
It would have been a difficult hike at the best of times but luckily one of the girls in my group had lived in India for a few years so we were distracted by chatting about what I should do when I go there and other such things
We stopped for a rest in a village where a boy entertained us by sprinting around with some rusty metal the whole time we were there:
I couldn't eat (a very nice) lunch so gave it to a pig:
I wasnt allowed to feed these kids instead which was a shame - they looked jealous of the pig!
Maybe to stop them begging off tourists? Who knows..
After 18km of hills we were back on the pickup truck getting driven to Luang Prabang. I had my camera at the ready but impressively they'd managed to move the digger. Once back I checked up on Charlotte then popped out for a quick dinner with the people from the other night. I couldnt eat that either but it was nice to see them again
Back to Charlotte..
It was time to leave Luang Prabang today, I still wasn't feeling great but I felt well enough to sit on a bus for 7 hours so we packed up and went to the bus station. While we were waiting for the tuk-tuk some kittens that lived near the hostel came and sat next to us - they were so cute, I'll miss them!
The road to Vang Vieng was very curvy and all through the mountains - but the views were fantastic! Luckily my stomach held up and we arrived in Vang Vieng around 4pm and just chilled out for the rest of the afternoon.