We spent a little less than two weeks in Laos. Our journey started after jumping on a minibus in Chang Rai and riding to the border to Chiang Khong to get our Laos visa. Then we began our two day journey down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. It was a long but fun trip. After two solid days…we arrived!
Our first stop was Luang Prabang. Our accommodation was right off of one of the main streets in the Old Quarter where the extensive night market was located. The street had a noticeable French influence in the architecture and the restaurant menus which featured wine, escargot, and baguettes.
We took a day trip to a beautiful waterfall and spent the afternoon walking around checking out the town. One day we did some exploring and walked along the Mekong River and discovered some interesting cracked mud land formations that were fun to traverse by foot. There was also the rickety bamboo bridge or two along the way that we didn’t dare cross. We visited the UXO Center to see how Laos deals with the unexploded ordnances leftover from the Vietnam War. On Christmas Day, we donned our light up Santa hats and dined on green curry and chicken soup under the full moon.
-Slow boats docked as the sun sets over the Mekong River.-
-Cracked earth lining the riverbank of the Nam Khan River in Luang Prabang, Laos. This river feeds into the Mekong and surrounds the Old Quarter.-
-A display of various explosives and munitions at the UXO Visitor Center. UXO stands for unexploded ordnance. Laos has the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country per capita in the world. Efforts continue today to find and disarm unexploded bombs and educate residents to take extra precaution at work and at play in unsearched fields.-
-A tuk tuk driver waits for customers. We’ve encountered different style tuk tuks in every country. This souped up motorcycle powers a wagon that holds nine people.-
-Our favorite sandwich vendor in all of Laos! Fresh fruit shakes and sandwiches served on baguettes are everywhere in Laos. This lady made such delicious sandwiches we had them for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meal!-
-Monks in front of a temple collecting offerings from kneeling devotees at sunrise. Known as the alms giving ceremony, the daily ritual involves monks collecting rice, sweets, and other offerings in a bowl. The offerings will be their only meal of the day. See them in action HERE!–
-Turquoise blue water collects in pools of one of the spectacular cascades at Kuang Si Waterfall.-
Next stop was Vang Vieng, which was the notorious party destination for many backpackers. Over the past few years, due to too much debauchery and deaths along the river, it has been cleaned up and much of what made it notorious has been changed and regulated. The town is still far from a family oriented destination. There is a dirty frat party feeling in the places of business and some restaurants offer a not so secretive menu option of edible opium, weed and mushrooms.
After an afternoon of exploring, we ended up at an Irish Bar and saw a boat party excursion for the next day. We signed up and spent a day floating around on a lake talking with some like-minded travelers and expats who were captaining the boat. There were some villages along the lake and Monkey Island, which is now off limits to humans due to a super aggressive male monkey. The next day was a wash because I (Chris) was laid up for a day due to bad food, dehydration, or Lao Lao.
-Two boys making mud pies by the side of the river. They had a perfect day splashing in the river and muddy puddles and chasing after one another in their underwear.-
-Monk’s morning commute.-
-Hot air balloons float over the limestone mountains at sunset.-
-Curious kids watch our boat cruise from their home along the shores of Nam Ngum Lake.-
Last stop in Laos was Vientiane, which is the capital and where the main airport is located. This was the most urban environment we have been in since we arrived in Laos. We got dropped off from our minibus on a street full of café’s and restaurants to eat or hang out in. Since Thailand is only about 1km away, this is a popular place to go on a visa run. One of our regrets is that we were unable to go to That Dam Wine Bar…such a shame. After a couple of days, we were off to Malaysia.
More photos in the Google Album link below!