So funny story. We were walking to our room one night, Alyssa leafing the way. Walking up the stairs, all I hear is ” OH MY GOSHHHHH” (slipper quickly slapping the ground). I thought there would be an over populated room of geckos so I was pretty hesitant to go up since we were at the very end of the building.
If you didn’t know, I absolutely loath geckos. I know they’re harmless and it’s not a phobia, I just hate looking at them.
Back to the story, I go up and turn the corner and what do I see? A gecko tail, at least 5 inches long, going into the window of the first room! My. Worst. Nightmare. Anyways, the pictures are Alyssa telling the story of it (first picture: “it was literally this big!!) and basically wanting to cry because of how huge this thing was, and it was HUGE
So white & blue I don’t even know what to do. Maybe take a 7 km walk down the beach. #longbeach #kohrong #cambodia
Before moving to Vientiane, Luang Prabang was the capital city of Laos. It’s more of a town than a city that is situated on the Mekong river. Walking around the streets, you can still see structures from the establishment of the French Protectorate in the late 1800’s as well as the traditional Laos architecture. For a small town, there’s lots of history.
The first night there, we were looking for somewhere to eat and found a vegetarian buffet. Side note: if you love baguettes and smoothies, this is the place for you. There’s vendors going down a whole street ONLY selling baguettes and smoothies. Back to the vegetarian buffet: You can fill your plate up with as much food as you want for just 10,000 kip (1.25 USD) and a big Lao Beer for another 10,000 kip! After dinner, we walked through the night market that’s on the main street every night. I loved everything they were selling and wish I had more space in my bag to have bought more items. Everything was so cheap too, especially if you haggle it down a few thousand kips (1 USD is about 8,000 kips).
^^^ Imagine these3 stands down a whole street. I’m not kidding that they are not different at all
If you’re an early riser, you can spectate the monks in their sunrise ceremony walking down the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms. I didn’t, though. I stole this photo from one of our Austrian friends that woke up for it
My favorite part of the city was the Kuang Si waterfall. You could probably rent a scooter and go to the waterfall but we got a tuk tuk taxi and headed up to the waterfall and bear conservation. I have an affinity for waterfalls - the sheer power of the water, the beauty as it flows over rocks and into the river, the lushness surrounding the waterfall, everything about it is captivating. The Kuang Si may be my favorite waterfalls I’ve seen. Walking up the river, there’s swimming areas, smaller waterfalls, and then finally you get to the top and it’s multiple waterfalls combining to make one mesmerizing scene.
^^^ A bear in the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center. These bears were saved from poachers who were capturing these bears for their bile for medicinal purposes. The center is right next to the waterfall
Who needs a cruise when you can slow boat down the Mekong river for 2 days for a fraction of the price?
After Pai, Alyssa, our Austrian Andi friends, and I headed onwards on our journey into Laos. We booked tickets through Aya tours. This included a shuttle to Chieng Khong, which is on the Thailand side of the border, a hotel over night, breakfast in the morning, a shuttle to the border to get our visas, and then a 2 day boat trip to Luang Prabang with a stop off in Pak Beng, Laos for the night.
^^^All the boats lined up
It sounds pretty miserable and I wasn’t exactly a fan of the thought of it, but, we read many comments about it and heard from some friends who’ve done it that it was a good experience. We decided we had to see for ourselves why this slow boat was a “must do.”
As previously mentioned, this boat was split into 2 days - 7 hours on the first day and then 8 on the second. The first day, the group was split into 2 smaller boats. The wooden boats had 15 rows of unbolted minivan seats that you can choose to situate yourself on for the next 7 hours. We were on the second boat, which was the left over people they couldn’t fit into the first boat do there weren’t as many people and some people for a full row to themselves. Alyssa and I shared a 3 person seat up on the front. It was a perfect height to the upper deck that I could put my legs up on the deck and lay flat.
^^^ Everybody getting comfy in the front of the boat
We left Pai at 6:30 pm, got to the hotel at Chieng Khong at 2 am and was woken up for breakfast at 6:45 am so we, along with most of the travelers who did something similar just from different cities, all slept and relaxed for the first couple hours. Waking up on the Mekong River surrounded by many shades of green is not a bad way to wake up. The rest of the ride is filled with reading, snacking, and chatting until there’s that one guy (there’s always that guy) who breaks out his guitar and starts jamming.
^^^Some photos of the scenery. I really enjoyed the little purple trees surrounded by the luxuriant foliage
We got to Pak Beng around 5 pm, crammed 13 people and their bags into the back of a pick up truck (SE Asia isn’t exactly known for their safety) and drove to the guesthouse we were staying at.
Pak Beng is an incredibly small town that is basically only known for the overnight stay for the slow boat. Because of this, the locals can increase the prices if everything, which is expensive for Laos but still reasonable for the American dollar. The town is filled with guest houses and restaurants and that’s it. When we left the border, a Laotian gave us a speech about the country and…I really couldn’t understand him but he did make it really clear that when at Pak Beng, we’d be charged 600+ baht a night and if we book a room at his guesthouse, we’d get a deal for 400. So we did that and later found out guest houses were selling their rooms for 300!
The next morning, the boat left a little after 10 am (only 45 minutes late) and we were off for another 8 hours of Mekong fun. This boat was a lot bigger so everyone fit onto one boat. The seating made it difficult to mingle and the windows were so high, to see anything, you had to stand. We were making random (or what many of the foreigners thought was random) stops at every village on the way picking up and dropping locals at different villages. Soon, the whole front of the boat was filled with locals. Needless to say, the second day wasn’t awesome; not to mention the hours of PDA from the couple next to me and on my seat, but I won’t get into details. We got into Luang Prabang around 4:30 pm.
^^^ You can see a bunch of locals crammed in the front of the boat. This was also taken after a quarter of them had just gotten off onto a different boat.
^^^The outside of our boat on the second day
^^^ The inside of our boat
Was it worth it? It would have been perfect if it were just the first day. It was definitely an experience. I wouldn’t go as far as a must do experience, but if you have time, why not? It’s very relaxing, although I have heard of people making it a party boat and you’ll be running into people on the boat for the next week or so at various cities of Laos, which is a lot of fun. You also get to see non stop beautiful nature such as below.
Now providing a banana walk-through for elephants #theresalwaysmoneyinthebananastand