Howdy from Vientiane the capital of Laos
Reading the news over the last few days it looks as if labor got a kicking, who'd though that was going to happen!
Anyhow traveling is more interesting than politics!
So Luang Prabang... a really nice place to sit and do..... well nothing really but walk around and see the sights. The town itself has something like 750 + Monks and 52+ temples in the centre! Everywhere you look there is a bunch of novice monks walking around in their orange robes with a whole bunch of books. The temples are amazing, there was one in particular at the very end of the peninsula that was decorated in high images made entirely of colored mirrored glass, it was great to just sit here and read whilst watching the sun set with the monks in evening chant in the background. The food was pretty good too, lots of quaint little art cafe's which were half art gallery half restaurant. There was also a pretty good night market where you could pick up almost anything at a bargain price. A couple of the evenings we ended up going to the local book shop to watch a film for free before going for a couple of drinks in the bar next door.
Luang Prabang was also where we booked our elephant trekking from! It sure did cost a few squiddlies but it was worth it! The first day we got a bus out to where the elephant village was, about 15 k's from the town out in the countryside. We arrived and pretty much got straight onto an elephant. Of course there was the obligatory welcome, do's and don't etc but they were all common sense. I was lucky enough to be on an elephant by myself so the mahoot said I could sit 'up front' on the neck! Not as easy to sit there as you might think. Its right on top of the animals shoulders so you end up having to lean on the head to save from falling! We were out for about 40 minutes before coming back to the camp where they taught us to drive the elephants, i.e. pai = go, how = stop, sai = left, khawp = right, seung = bend your leg so that i can step on it while you push me up, map = lay down, wai wai = speed up!
To get on the elephants is strange, you have to grab a hold of its right ear shout seung, step on its leg and haul your ass up there using its ear!
The afternoon was spent in the river. I'd though it's be a good idea to swim across to the other side of the river as the current was 'not that strong'... boy how wrong was I. I made it about half way across when I started thinking oh boy I'm not going to be able to make it to the sand bank, I then thought it would be a good idea to swim harder against the current, only to knacker myself out! Fully fledged panic now as I could not touch the bottom and I was being swept further down stream and did not fancy a long walk back. On the other side was when I started thinking how on earth am I going to make it across. I ended up walking 100 odd yards up stream to give me plenty of time and angle to swim across! Nice water though. After this, we headed back to the elephants and walked them into the jungle where they sleep before heading for dinner.
The next morning was by far the best bit, we walked out to the jungle where we dropped the elephants off at about 6 in the morning to go back to the river to wash them! The elephants just piled right in to the middle of the river before completely submerging themselves and me! They seemed to really like the water and would angle their head for you so that you could scrub and splash water over them. There was no where near enough time to do this but still it was fun.
That same afternoon we got the bus to Vang Vieng the travelers must go to point of Laos. Its basically a town of bars bars and more bars selling cheap food and booze. It is also the location of the famed tubing in Laos. They give you a tractor inner tube bus you 4 klicks up river drop you in and you float leisurely back via some more bars of course! As it was obligatory we thought it'd be a shame not to do this! We only spent one night here as we wanted to make our way down south via Vientiane.
Vientiane, not great as we already knew, got here last night and am leaving tonight for Pakse. Its your typical SE Asian capital, lots of people (to Laos standards) and loads of smog everywhere that its almost choking. We only cam here to get our Cambodian visas.
Any how next update will be from Pakse, off there to go trekking in the Bolaven Plateau (Coffee central for Laos) and to sit and not do much in Xe Phan Don (4000 islands, a bunch of river eytes), then Cambodia.
Adios for now