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Luang Prabang

October 25th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 07-Laos | UNESCO World Heritage Sites - (2 Comments)
A few highlights from our trip this past few days to the northern Lao city of Luang Prabang, the ancient royal capital of Laos that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995. Our last stop before we head north and cross the border into China. A beautiful town perched between two rivers, one being the MeKong. The people are incredibly friendly and the temples and waterfalls are stunning.  Of note were the young monks walking about town.  Every morning at 6am they would parade around the streets where the locals (and now the tourists) would hand them food for the day.  We spent a good while talking to these guys while visiting the temples – most are orphans that join to avoid the streets and acquire some form of education – pretty sad really. All in all, a very relaxing few days and we ate and drank plenty. A selection of our favourite photos here. UNESCO World Heritage Site #9 Luang Prabang 026 Luang Prabang 091 Luang Prabang 110 Luang Prabang 011 Luang Prabang 027 Luang Prabang 241 Luang Prabang 306 Luang Prabang 320 Luang Prabang 398 Luang Prabang 425 Luang Prabang 437 Luang Prabang 494 Luang Prabang 536 Luang Prabang 537

Typical sightseeing day

October 24th, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 07-Laos - (0 Comments)

Away from the party scene there is plenty to do and see in Vang Veing.  We hired a moped and headed off for the day with a group of folks we met throughout our stay and whom you’ve seen in many previous photos.  The countryside is beautiful pretty with activities to easily fill an afternoon.

A quick run through a sightseeing day:

The standard moped in Asia, a Honda 125 semi-automatic, sounds like a weapon!

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A typical village scene, dusty roads with bamboo houses on either side.

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All the locals bath and wash their clothes in the river, an amazing sight.  This is usually a chore for the ladies.

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Phukhan Cave, scary if you are slightly claustrophobic.  We spent most of our time crawling through the nooks and crannies.

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Putting on a brave face!  You crawl for quite a distance and get very dirty in the process.

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After caving, time for a wash and to cool off in one of many lagoons surrounding the mountains.  Almost all provide a swing of sorts – very enjoyable and cool in the midday sun.

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My first plunge of the day!  This particular lagoon was very shallow, about 4ft deep, as I quickly learned when my ass hit the gravel.

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These local lads were very very amusing.  They spent the afternoon harpooning the lagoon and cooked their catch on a couple of burning logs.  The remainder of their catch they brought home for supper.

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We just missed what would have been the best shots of the day, these young monks (about 20 in total) diving and summersaulting in the lagoon.  We seen them from a far but as we got closer they were out of the water and ready to leave.

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Our favourite lagoon of the day with almost tropical water which run down from the mountain.  It was so deep you could dive from a great height, which I did on several occasions but only caught on video.

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After our swim it was time for a beer and rest, sightseeing can be a little tiring at times .

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Fixing a puncture on this all-round vehicle – with a trailer similar to this, most are used as buses between villages.

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The locals using the Mekong for their daily bath, we didn’t want to hang around too long for obvious reasons.

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Partying hard

October 23rd, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 07-Laos - (3 Comments)

This is pretty much a typical day here in the party town of Vang Veing: up at around 10am for a Full English, hire some bikes or motorcycles for a few hours sightseeing, lunch and a couple of beers before an afternoon siesta, off to the internet cafe to check emails etc, meet up as a group for dinner, beers, beers and more beers , off to the Bucket Bar (below) for beers or cocktails in buckets until 11pm and finish off in a late nigh bar before bed.  Up and do it all over again – get us out of here please… before our livers give way!

This travelling lark is crap, we are bored and wished we were back home WORKING!

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Tubing in Vang Veing

October 22nd, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 07-Laos - (4 Comments)

The minute we stepped foot in Asia all we heard was ‘tubing in Vang Veing’.  Reluctantly , we gave it a try and boy was it everything we expected and more.

Basically, you rent a tube for around $4 and get taken to the top of the river and float down stopping off at many cocktail bars. Within 3 minutes, there are locals along the bank enticing you in for a drink – they have big long bamboo sticks that you grab so they can pull you in  – it's brilliant.

All the bars have these crazy zip lines and swing ropes that go out over the water, sometimes up to 20m high (see the pics) . The local BeerLao costs about $1 and most throw in free shots of the local Lao Lao liqueur. The more adventurous can order happy shots containing magic mushrooms, opium or marijuana.

Loads of alcohol (and drugs if one wished) mixed with swing ropes and zip lines makes for a great afternoon. As with most of these countries, there's not much for safety standards, so many were carrying bruises or worse as the day progressed, but I guess that makes it all the more fun. 

We had so much fun we stayed at the last bar too long and ended up tubing down the river in the dark – a little scary.  It was definitely the most adrenalin filled day of our trip so far.

We used our underwater housing unit and took a ton of pics and some videos which we are unable to show you.  The last pic is my favourite, me heading down the water slide head first – Sam only managed to capture my legs – you do go pretty fast and I landed flat on the water – it did hurt!

Five of us stuck together for the adventure, photos include Helen and Claire from England, Megan from the US and ourselves.

If you’re ever in Laos, head for Vang Veing!

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Vientiane

October 21st, 2008 | Posted by Davey in 07-Laos - (0 Comments)

After our bus ordeal we arrived safely in the capital and had a lot of sleep to catch up on.  It was so boring and such a let down we didn’t take 1 photograph – we only stayed two nights.

Never mind, onwards and upwards to Vang Veing to go tubing (next post) which we'd head so much about.