After today, everyone in our group is splitting up and we’re all moving on to different places in the world. However, we all still need to get south to Vientiane, (capital city of Laos) to connect to our next destinations, so we decide to try and stick together a little longer. There are busses and vans available for very cheap that can get you there in 3 hours, which is a piece of cake. Originally that was our plan, to just take a simple bus in the morning to arrive there by early afternoon, but then I hear one of the boys talking about kayaking to the city, which I think sounds awesome. I put it out of my mind because I know that kayaking the distance of a 3 hour car ride could be pretty intense and I would maybe die.
Today Ilona and I plan on just having a relaxed day where we figure out where we’re going next and how we’re getting there. We know we want to head south towards the islands in Thailand but we can’t get there all in one day, so we have to get there in steps either by train, bus, boat or plane…but we’re trying to avoid the flights.
Tubing in Vang Vieng is something that has been attracting tourists for years, specifically young backpackers. It’s known for being… wild party meets lazy river.
Almsgiving is a religious practiced on the streets of Luang Prabang where monks accept rice, sugarcane, bananas, and any other food that the people in town have to offer them. At 6:00 every morning residents of the town come to the sidewalks and set up carpets to kneel on while they offer handfuls of rice and other food to the monks who pass by. I had never heard of almsgiving before my visit to Laos, and I admittedly don’t know very much (or anything at all, really) about Buddhism. I am eager to learn though, and now that I’m here and have the opportunity to witness one of these ceremonies, I am more than willing to wake up absurdly early for it.
We wake up late in the day and go across the street for breakfast. Everyone is off doing their own thing, some people are still asleep, and I think some of us are at a pool somewhere, but Ilona and I head over to the market. It’s only really a true market at night time and most of the shops are now closed, but we do find some cute jewelry. Ilona buys a thin silver bangle for each of the girls in our little travel group, for us to add to the random assortment of bands and bracelets on our wrists.
There is supposed to be a beautiful waterfall half an hour outside Luang Prabang so we decide that today is a good day to go see it. We couldn’t get a hold of the boys this morning, who are staying at a different hostel, so after a quick breakfast we find a tuk tuk to take us out to the waterfall, and ask him to make a stop at the boys’ hostel to see if we can find them. Our driver agrees to stop, acknowledges that he knows what hostel we’re asking him to go to, and somehow still manages to ignore what we asked and just drives us straight to the waterfall without the boys. Thanks bro.
I get up at 6:30 in order to take a shower and make it in time for breakfast downstairs, which they asked us to pre-order from a menu last night. I ordered a banana pancake, which turns out to be the best of all the breakfasts. Bonus. They also asked us to order our lunch, which they’ve packed up in boxes so we can bring them with us on the boat. So lovely!
7am breakfast isn’t so bad after falling sleep at 9pm the night before. We wake up and go downstairs to eggs and toast which aren’t bad. The hotel also provides a packed lunch for the boat ride. We meet some guys from England at breakfast who are also on their way to Laos and are taking the same slow boat that we are.
We get up early to catch a van that will take us closer to Laos. We won’t actually reach Laos for 2 more days, and will be traveling mostly by boat, but today we take a van further north-east in Thailand. The van fits 10 people so we share the space with some other groups of people. There is a group of girls (3 American and 1 Canadian), a German couple, an older French guy, and a younger guy who looks Scandinavian, but I don’t know for sure where he’s from. It’s a quiet ride to the hotel.
Doi Suthamp Temple is the most famous in Chiang Mai, so I have to see it. We wake up relatively late and go downstairs for our delicious croissant breakfast creation. I am set on seeing this temple, which Ilona has no desire to visit, so instead of dragging her up 300 stairs (we’ll get to the stairs) and instead of missing it, I choose to go alone. As directed by the front desk guy downstairs, I hop into a tuk tuk that takes me to the Chiang Mai Zoo, which is right at the bottom of the mountain heading up to the Temple. From the Zoo I get in a big red truck/bus crossover thing that is another form of taxiing in Thailand.