After the two-day slow boat trip, we arrived in Luang Prabang a little relieved to once again be on dry land. Initially, we planned on having a quiet night in to recover after the last few days travelling, however as is normally the case with us that didn’t quite go to plan, and we ended up going to bed around 3am. So how did this happen, once we had checked in at the hostel in Luang Prabang we headed out for some dinner, while we were out for dinner we happened to bump into a guy we had met at our hostel in Chiang Mai, more specifically he worked at the hostel there so we were pretty shocked to see him but it was a nice chance encounter and we saw Fisher several times for the rest of the night. After dinner, we then made our way to the main or most popular bar in the city called utopia bar which was luckily just around the corner from where we had food and our hostel. The bar was chilled and overlooked a tributary of the Mekong River and had lots of chill out spaces with cushions and that. Fortunately, we arrived still within happy hour (or happy hours as it lasted from 4pm until 9pm). However, at this point we were still content on just having a beer and heading home. We decided to get a beer tower, which sounds more than just one beer but is only 3 L of beer between the 4 of us which worked out just over a pint really. The beer tower was as the name suggest a big tower of beer kept cool by a block of ice through the centre, you then serve yourself beer from the tap on the tower. After finishing the beer Fred and I headed to the toilet where both of us said we were ready for bed, still not planning on going out at this point. However, on returning to the table, Connor and Ollie had other plans and said they wanted to have a look around utopia bar for a little longer (I swear once those two have only a few drinks they’re going out). Fred and I not wanting to be the Gary’s of the group didn’t take much convincing to stay. We, therefore, stayed in the bar chatting to various people and drinking a few more drinks until 11.30 pm when the bar shuts. In Luang Prabang at least, maybe even the whole of Laos you can’t be served after 11.30 pm so once the bar shut I thought finally we would be heading home to the hostel. I was wrong. Initially, we did make it back to the hostel where we sat for a little while with a few others who had come back from the bar. Here we heard that they were all going bowling, now you might wonder why people would be debating going to a bowling alley at midnight, yet this bowling alley is like no bowling alley you’ve ever come across before. Basically, the ally is a short Tuk Tuk drive out of town and it then stays open until 6 am. It is also the only place in the area where you can be served alcohol past 11.30 pm. Therefore, all the drunk tourists who aren’t content with heading to bed at 11.30 head to the bowling alley for a game or two of bowling and the continue there night out, which is exactly what we did. We hopped into a Tuk Tuk made the journey there, singing songs out of the Tuk Tuk as we went, then partook in several games of bowling plus having a few more beers before finally returning home to bed around 3 am. There was also an archery range at the bowling alley but the less said about this the better as Connor and me were terrible, Ollie, on the other hand, wasn’t too bad. So, all in all, the first night was rather surreal but a good one at that.
The next day we chose to explore Luang Prabang a little on foot, however, before we set out to do this we first watched the Tyson Furry Deontay Wilder fight at a local sports bar. Seeing as the fight was in LA this meant for us it was around mid-day Sunday afternoon when the fight aired. Plus, I then wanted to get my hair cut! Yes, it really has grown that fast in roughly 7 weeks since I shaved it all off. I mean on top it is still shorter than before the shave, but the back and sides are the length when I would normally decide to get it cut. Therefore, it was annoying me around my ears and stuff. Plus, the boy said I looked like a microphone what with it being the same length all over, so I thought I could at least get some kind of vague style into it as well. So, I left the top how it was and got a skin fade on the back and sides. The haircut cost me £6 but included a wash and dry plus she also gave me a head massage while washing and then a neck and should massage while drying, bargain. Right enough about my hair as travelling is far more interesting. After my trim, we headed to Mount Phousi temple which sits on a hill overlooking the city itself. They are a few little things to see on the way up to the temple such as a small cave shrine, where I scared Freddie by calling him inside in a scary old lady voice which he didn’t appreciate. The temple itself is right at the top and you must pay a fee of 20,000 kip £2 to reach the summit but it is well worth it. The temple itself is more of just a statue but the views were great overlooking the city and also the Mekong river. We kind of picked the wrong time of day seeing as it was the middle of the day and the sun meant taking photos was difficult, yet I guess we were there so what matters how a photo turns out (sorry those of you reading the blog) best time to go would be sunrise or sunset again I imagine. Once we had summited the temple we then headed back down to the tributary off the Mekong river, where there was a bamboo bridge to take you over to the opposite bank of the river where there was a cool restaurant bar area. The bridge itself is only present half the year in the dry season so every year it is washed away in the rainy season so must be rebuilt every year. For some reason, I didn’t take a photo of the bride just of the view from the bridge (I’m sure a quick google of Luang Prabang Bamboo Bridge would solve that issue for you if you’re that bothered).
That evening for dinner we headed to a restaurant where they had some traditional Laos dancers performing due to there being some kind of festival on that day. I joined in on one of the easier dances but failed to keep up on the next one so promptly sat back down. After dinner, we headed back to the hostel to chill out on the balcony area which also overlooked the river and was the place everyone congregated. Here there was a local Laos child, who I assume is the daughter of those who works at the hostel. She must have only been about 4 or 5 but spoke very good English! Although she was very sweet she did have a naughty side to her. When we first sat down, and she walked over to us Fred said hello and introduced himself, she then proceeded to cough into his face and runoff, which we all found hilarious! I then offered her my hat which she happily accepted, before also coughing into this and then running off with it. She later tried to exchange my hat for a pack of cigs between me and another hostel guest. I declined the trade and did eventually get my hat back. After our evening entertainment, we headed to bed for an early night.
Morning broke and we got up ready to head to a nearby waterfall. We met with a few friends from the slow boat making a crew of 6 and hired a Tuk Tuk for the morning/afternoon to take to and from the waterfall. The waterfall was called Kuang Si, Kuang meaning waterfall, Si meaning dear due to some legend in the past about a golden dear or something appearing with the waterfall (if my memory serves me right) The journey from Luang Prabang to the waterfall took around 40 minutes and it’s safe to say the roads in Laos are much worse than the roads in Thailand. Once at the falls it was a short walk from the parking, whereby we passed a bear rescue sanctuary where several Laos bears were kept. You may think this cruel, but it appeared the bears were well looked after and was basically equivalent to a zoo, plus supposedly the bears had all be rescued from harsh captivity. So let’s hope there life is now far better. After the short walk to the falls, we weren’t disappointed. The water was an amazing blue turquoise colour. There were many different layers to the waterfall a short walk from one another and all had their own unique quirks. The most impressive part of the waterfall, which we actually saw last is right at the end of the trail and is the true Kuang Si waterfall, the mist coming off the waterfall combining with the sunlight offered a spectacular view. Further back down the trail where we stopped for the most time was where we swim and enjoyed the waterfalls up close. The water was on the cold side but manageable. We swam in the falls, and climbed in amongst them, even taking a shower in the waterfall. Plus, there was a greatly positioned tree branch which offered a great launch pad to jump into the water in front of the waterfall itself. The waterfalls were certainly the highlight of Luang Prabang.
That evening we headed to the night food market to get some food. Due to working up an appetite we all had the buffet for the evening. This consisted of paying 15,000 kip £1.50 to fill up a bowl with as much food as you’d like, although this was all vegetarian like rice, noodle, potatoes and vegetable dishes. We then paid an additional 15,000 kip to get a massive chicken breast cooked on a skewer. Safe to say we were all absolutely stuffed and it’s probably the biggest meal I’ve eaten the whole time away. Now Fred who loves his food wasn’t too keen as he had to use chopsticks to eat the food, which safe to say he struggles to use.
After pigging out the night before we headed to a gym we all headed to a gym we had seen for a workout to burn off the previous night’s meal. The gym was actually pretty good and the best one we have used so far. Plus, it cost £1.50 for a session so no complaints there. After the gym, we had a hearty lunch before Ollie decided he also wanted a haircut to get rid of his final blonde locks which have been left over from a decision he made in America. So once the final dead blonde hair had been cut out of his luscious now revived hair we felt we all needed a massage, so headed to a local parlour. For £5 we had an hour-long full body oil massage each and it was great! I enjoyed it more than the ones in Thailand which were a bit more painful if not funnier as well. In Laos however, I thoroughly chilled out and I think even woke myself up with a snore at some point. My only issue came with when the lady was doing my legs and she came rather close to the crown jewels, plus my underwear choice probably wasn’t ideal so I’m sorry if she saw a little more than she bargained for. (but don’t worry there definitely weren’t any happy endings even if things did get a little close for comfort).
The rest of the day we chilled out and headed to the night market once more for some food. I had a very nice Bratwurst, almost as authentic as the Christmas market in Germany (nice to feel a little festive as none of us does at all. That concludes our time Luang Prabang, we are now headed for Vang Vieng which most likely won’t be as subdued and far livelier (and by lively, I mean more alcohol consumed)