Myles Harrington

Living Life Laos Style

In Laos on September 3, 2010 at 10:36 am

For once I think I actually love the French. After suffering for months with the over sweet bread of Asia it was such a nice treat to get to Laos and their beautiful baguettes. The legacy that the French left behind when they left 60 years ago. A love for good bread and Laughing Cow cheese.

A traditional Lao sandwich stall and a tiny barbers shop

We skipped the capital Vientiane as I’d heard it’s nothing special. There were some nice old buildings as we drove through but the real pretty (and party) places are further north.

Vang Vieng was the first stop off, as it is for most young Westerners. In fact there were probably more farang in town than locals. It’s the ultimate backpacker lay about paradise; cheap baguettes, traditional European home cooked meals and loads of restaurants playing Friends. The canned laughter follows you down the street as it blares out of the widescreens. The one where they go to Barbados will forever remind me of Laos. I don’t know the Lao initially ever thought everyone just wants to watch Friends all of the time. It’s bizarre. Play films and I’ll go to your bar instead!

Yay! just what I wanted in the middle of Laos. Friends series 3!

The biggest draw for people to Vang Vieng however is not the sandwiches or even the chance to watch a whole series of Friends in a day but it’s for tubing.

Tubing is also a very bizarre thing when you describe it so someone who hasn’t done it. Basically you go and hire an industrial sized rubber ring for 55,000 kip (£4.40) then get a tuk-tuk 3km out-of-town to the top of a rapid river. You get in your tube and float in the water for a while until you reach a bar. You have a bucket of strong booze and free shots washed down with a few beers and do a massive rope swing. Then you get back in your tube and do it all again at the next bar 50 metres down stream. Come 5pm you’re absolutely tubed and need to rush back doing back stroke so you don’t lose your deposit.

It’s bloody great fun but so exhausting. After two days on the trot we were knackered, achy and being sick. I don’t think the shots of local spirit that contained dead wasps was a good idea. We stayed in bed all day watching HBO with four cheesy films, hot tea and even cheesier brick oven pizza. At the pizza place in Vang Vieng there is a ‘happy’ menu. Along with the copious selection of sandwiches and pizza toppings you can also purchase weed, magic mushrooms and opium all openly and in various forms. Tea, joints, shakes or on your pizza. We were far too exhausted to take advantage of their illegal offerings so we settled for a margarita instead.

The bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was probably the nicest since Sumatra. The views were stunning with jagged rocks and cloud capped peaks for the whole trip. I actually enjoyed most of the seven hours and how they tarmaced it the whole way up those hills I’ll never know. I’m surprised the hot tar just didn’t run straight down.

The most amazing bus ride

I’d got word from the owner of the Luang Prabang Backpackers Hostel, Shampoo (apparently that’s his real name), that my new bank card had arrived. I was so relieved it had actually made it. I don’t trust postal services now since my Indian care package got lost in transit all those months ago. It was an amazing feeling to have the power of getting money from a wall back. It makes you realise how dependent we are on technology now. A combined birthday and Christmas card from my mum was a nice touch too.

It was time to get cultural again so we headed off to Kouang Si waterfall 30km from the town. The images on Google show tranquil pools of turquoise water. It’s now the wet season in Lao and the still lagoons have been replaced by violent rapids created with murky brown water. Not that it ruined the attraction. If anything it made it better!

5k remaining: £1930.30

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  1. I want to try some opium.

  2. Happy Birthday Myles. Sorry haven’t sent a card as you are “on the move”, but we are all thinking of you. Saw Mum, Ian + Dom last week in exeter. Great to catch up with them. Frank + I are off to Spain for 10 weeks later today. Enjoy the rest of your travels. Love Kim + Frank xx

  3. […] been fortunate enough to have seen some of the most stunning waterfalls in South East Asia, the Kouang Si waterfall near Luang Prabang in Laos with its 50m plunge and the Elephant falls in Dalat with its treacherous […]

  4. […] day came that we had to hop over the border and I was to return to Laos after leaving two months previously. According to the blokes we bought the combined bus and boat ticket off it would take eight hours […]

  5. […] rooms seemed a bit step to my ever reducing low-budget. So I once again returned to another place I loved three months ago; Luang […]

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