After the (extremely) slow boat into Laos, (little did we know there were worse journeys to come) I was expecting big things from Laos. We stayed 3 nights at Kounsavan Guesthouse, a fairly decent hostel with a swimming pool and a good free breakfast. We got a minibus to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall, and failed at finding the ‘secret pool‘. But it didn’t matter because we found a nice shaded pool with absolutely freezing water to pose for photos in, and the waterfall itself was absolutely stunning. Probably my favourite waterfall ever, not that that’s something I regularly rank.
Other than this, there isn’t a great deal to do in the day in Luang Prabang. There are a few temples and a nice old quarter to wander around but that’s about it. One thing they do have though is baguettes. That probably won’t excite you unless you’ve been in Asia a while eating that horribly sweet and incredibly poor excuse for bread. There are about 10 different stalls by the main market selling all different kinds of filled baguettes, and I even managed to find one that did real cheese (again, amazing for Asia).
At night, we went to a really cool outside bar called Utopia and sat around with drinks until it closed. For reasons unknown, the bars in Luang Prabang shut at 11pm but the bowling alley can carry on until 2am. Yes that’s right, the bowling alley. On our second night we decided to give this a go, expecting a ‘bowling alley’ where we could dance the night away. Make no mistake, this is indeed a bowling alley. Like a shitty school disco, it had the lights on with funky disco lights bouncing off the walls and ceiling and Justin Bieber booming through the speakers. On the table were laminated sheets detailing the prizes that could be won – get 10 spares and win a carton of cigarettes, get 10 strikes and win a motorbike. Of course, the requirements were lower for us feeble women. To be fair I actually had a lot of fun at the bowling alley, I think we played about 6 games in total, getting more and more shit the drunker we got.
Our next stop in Laos was Vang Vieng, the infamous home of tubing. This used to be a massive party town until so many tourists died (the majority of a dangerous mix of drunken stupidity and water) that they cracked down on tubing and shut most of the bars along the river. Now, only a few can be open on each day. When we went there were only 2 open and they were right next to each other, but we still had a great time. Hearing about all the deaths I was expecting a wiiild ride down the river and half expecting to drown. However, the river was very shallow and the current was very weak. We moving at an absolute snail’s pace and pretty much had to swim the 2km back, wondering how blind drunk you have to be to drown there.
We stayed in Real Backpackers Hostel Vang Vieng 2, which was quieter than the original, but had an amazing view of Vang Vieng from the rooftop bar.
At night, Vang Vieng was really something else. Free whiskey and mixer is available in Sakura Bar from 8-9pm. Take one, down it and then walk back to the bar and get another. As many times as you like. From 10-11pm Viva Bar does the same thing, and also free beer in the bar inside. I know what you’re thinking – this is as dangerous to your dignity as it sounds. But hey, free drinks.
Once we were done in Vang Vieng it was onto the capital of Laos, Vientiane. Being the capital city I was expecting big things – to finally get my phone screen fixed, by some new concealer and a portable charger. However Vientiane is what I would describe as a shithole. There is nothing here. Just nothing. Not even a single stick of concealer.
Wow that was a negative post, I’m told the south of Laos is actually very nice. Most people take that route into Cambodia, however we were getting the bus to Hanoi from Vientiane (you can read about that shitshow very soon). Don’t let me put you off, I’ve met plenty of people who loved it. Maybe I was just in a bad mood.