Laos the country of many smiles, happy welcoming people and beautiful countryside
13.10.2011 - 18.11.2011
We arrived in V after crossing the short friendship bridge - a random but very useful donation from the Australians. We arrived in the evening to a party in full swing, the river festivities were on both sides of the Mekong. After checking into a LP recommended guest house we headed to the waterfront where it was all kicking off! We were met by hoards and hoards of Laos people. There was a kind of market going on with crazy blaring music and announcements and cheap clothes and food for sale. We first needed an ATM - kip is the new currency to get used to.. its 12,000 kip to the pound so we became instant millionaires with one trip to the ATM!!
We took another sleeper bus to LP - its a great way to travel assuming you can sleep, which i usually can! We met lots of French people on the bus who helped us navigate the meal stop so that we didn't eat meat this time! We arrived early in LP and got a tuk tuk into town. it stopped next to the recommended hostel which Kate and I were dubious about at first not wanting to take the first one but we went and took a look and were pleasantly surprised. it was run by a family and sprawled over a few different houses. There was a communal area for guests with free tea, coffee, bananas and internet. The communal area became a great place to hang and we very quickly met a great group of people that were just about to leave for the waterfalls. We were pretty shattered but decided to join them, they seemed a lovely international group and we wanted to see them and much cheaper to do it in a group.
We took a 45 min tuk tuk from town, we got on well with our new Global friends between the 8 of us there was many different nationalities American, Thai, Canadian, British and South African! We shared travel stories with interest each of us with tales of different places around the globe. We picked up some food on route and then begun our short walk through the forest excited about eating and then swimming in the water after our long journey! On route you pass a brown bear sanctuary.. very random but cool to see! i expect that their there as its a guaranteed tourist spot! The waterfall was spectacular, not a patch on Iguazu in South America but still a treat! While I was eating lunch I suddenly realised I had a very small leach on my foot eek! I flicked it off and it came away easily leaving no mark phew.. one of a few leach stories in Laos!!
The swimming area was equally as amazing, a pool of water fed by 3 waterfalls. the water was cool and if you stopped for a second shrimps that were in the pool would start biting you feet, a free fish doctor!! That night both of us were running on empty but we still went to the night market. There is a food part were you can get a plate of veggie food for 10,000 kip (80p) we quickly learnt to pile our plate as high as possible! the night market was stalls and stalls of merchandise and gifts to buy. I ended up spending some of my nieces pocket money on a few things.. she is a clever 1 year old wiring money from Australia to Loas for shopping!! :0
The next morning I went for a run to explore, the city is lovely its UNESCO so is preserved well and has amazing scenery everywhere you look, again it is on the Mekong, a river I could never get bored of running next to! There is wats on every corner and the whole city has a French feel. That day we hired bikes with our new found friends and went in search of a few of the temples.
Our last day in LP we woke up extra early to see the monks collecting alms from the locals. They do this everyday walking silently past in barefoot. the local women wait outside of their shops and houses and fill the bowls of the monks with food. It was an impressive sight to see, we then watched the sun rise over the Mekong, seeing different animals in the clouds.
We now plan to regretfully leave LP to go further North to Non Khiaw and onto Mong Nohi in search of relaxation, trekking, village life and countryside!