Travel to Luang Prabang, Laos
The day we headed to Luang Prabang we got up early to catch the 9am bus. The schedule said leave at 9am arrive in Luang Prabang at 2pm. We planned for longer after the trip to Vang Vieng took us way longer than we thought it would.
We got up and had breakfast at our hotel which was the best of the trip. Muesli with bananas - you can't really tell but they did not skimp on the bananas - they are just under the muesli. Delicious! The bread was not that good and the jam stuff I have no idea what it was, but I was not a fan. The Muesli and fruit were plenty and tasty.
The next few photos will be from the drive to Luang Prabang so might not be the best since they were shot out the window. So we got a pick up at our hotel from a bus that drove around town a little bit before dropping us off at a bus station. When we got off I looked outside and we were 2 doors down from the hotel...I was just like if I would have known we were just going 2 feet we could have walked...Around 9 a guy came with the van for the trip with a few people already in it. There were still seats left however so we drove around town for 45 minutes trying to fill them.
We did pick up these two frat boys who were the last people to get in and were such complainy pants! They complained about everything! First it was that the van was there at 9:45 when they were supposed to take the 10am bus. Well I am sure they didn't say they would get picked up at 10 - we had the 9am bus and we got picked up at 8:40 so...suck it up! Geez. They were annoying. This was one of two times that we were just with other tourists and I did not like it as much. Most of them complained about every little thing which is not fun to listen to. You really need to just be able to relax and go with the flow or Laos will not be for you.
Once we got the frat boys we were full. There was a seat next to Raymond, but it was full of everyones ginormous backpacks. We had to go by the bus station before we left to check in or something and there is when I figured we really did have to have enough people to fill every seat as we picked up another guy. He was a local, but there wasn't really a seat for him. He still had to come with us since we needed the extra person so there wasn't an "empty" seat. I felt back for him as he sat on the floor by the door for the trip which mustn't have been fun. But he seemed to do okay. The driver tried to argue against it saying there wasn't enough room, but they made him take the extra guy.
This was one of the longer van rides and the driver stopped a lot. We left around 10 and at 11 we stopped at this restaurant on the side of the road for food. Apparently the driver was hungry so we had a 30 min break there.
We also stopped to use the toilet a few times. You can see the road on the left hand side of the above photo - it is a windy, mountain road. Not much place to pull over and pee, but at the passes there were a few places that had put up toilets. They were just squat toilets, but they were better than nothing. They cost 2,000Kip - just over €0.20 so not crazy or anything. Well the frat boys used the toilets, but then didn't want to pay. They just complained and complained and complained and it was just like dudes - it is €0.20. Just give then the money so we can be on our way. It was ridiculous. There were people that took care of the facilities and made sure they worked and everything the least you can do is pay them what they are asking. We are up in the middle of the mountains with not much around so...I didn't like those guys at all. But it was sooo cool and nice up high in the mountains! I was just like can we stay up here for a bit? This is perfect!
It was really a gorgeous drive. Just up and through the mountains the whole way. Really beautiful and I loved it. You go through some tiny villages with just woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs. Then along some of the windy roads were little stands set up on the steep side with ladies selling whatever produce was in season, with people stopping to pick up stuff. There were also a lot of people farming on the super steep hillsides. You can't really tell, but in the clearer area in the middle of the above photo are people farming. Crazy! It was so steep!
The driver did stop again about 2 for more food, but no one wanted anything and I don't think the driver was very happy about that. I was just like we brought snacks, we stopped not that long ago for food, I would just wait until we get into town. We left at 10 so I was guesstimating 3:30 arrival, but it was more like 4:30. Apparently I didn't plan the snacks well enough as by the time we got into town I was so hungry I felt like I was going to pass out.
Tofu laab, sticky rice, and a beer Lao for Raymond - perfect Lao dinner!
The bus station is a ways out of town so we had to take a tuk tuk downtown. I don't know why I thought Luang Prabang would be a small city, but it wasn't. It really felt like a big city. Lots of traffic and people and things going on and yeah. The traffic was mainly caused by traffic circles - they don't know how to use them. People would wait to try and go straight across and other people would just shoot out and it was just a mess. I was just like this is not how this is supposed to work...It also felt like a richer city. People were wearing nicer clothes than other places we had been and stuff like that. We found our room at this place I loved. Probably the nicest place we stayed in Laos, but still not very expensive. It was a family run hotel near the night market and everything you would want to see and was just really nice. The guy at the front desk was kind of awkward, but you could tell he just wanted to talk and help you figure out what to do in his city. He gave us a map and recommended places and things to do and he was just really great. He wasn't always the best at conversation, but he tried and he was friendly.
After checking in and dropping off our stuff we headed a few doors down to get some food. First tofu laab of the trip and it was so tasty. Really Lao food is so fresh and light it is perfect for the hot weather. Laab is usually meat, but the tofu and spices were yum!
After dinner we walked down to the water for sunset. Only you can't see the water very well for most of the waterfront. The top photo is what it is like - lots of trees in the way so you only catch glimpses of the water. We did end up at the ferry terminal so we went down there to spy. After that we spied on the night market which was a bit disappointing. It is huge, but there wasn't much variety. The same 5 or 6 types of things repeated over the whole thing. Like places with t-shirts, or dresses, of homemade paper, or whatever. It was alright, I did get a dress which was nice. Though I am terrible at haggling! It was a shorter dress though which was much cooler than my longer dresses I had with me. It was still interesting to wander through even if it was just the same things again and again.