This is Mir Mir checkin’ in from Mekong, y’all! After a whirlwind of adventures here in the slow-paced, all around chillaxed to the max country of Laos, I give you and update on my journey thus far…
- Made a pit stop in Huay Xai after trekking from Chiang Mai. Biggest regret slapped me right across the face the morning after I arrived: whilst having lunch in a local noodle shop, a French guy living in Laos for the past 8 years asked to dine with me. So we talked over our soup and shared our stories. Turns out he’s the founder of the Gibbon Experience (which you can read more about here: http://www.gibbonexperience.org/), a trek that I really, really, really wanted to endulge in, but time and money were not on my side. After expressing my initial desire to take part in this amazing eco-tourism adventure, he said he’d give it to me for free. SHIT! I would have left Thailand sooner (love you, Thailand, but something’s just gotta be done) if I knew this would happen.
- Boarded my 12-hour bus ride to Luang Prabang – which in Laos time is actually 15 hours. Did I mention that in the VIP bus, stools, hiking bags, extra passengers, and sacks of rice in the aisle are standard? Still a minty ride, even though a few close-calls were on the agenda (eg: head-on collisions).
- Arrived in Luang Prabang, and ended up teaming up with 2 girls from Sweden in my Laotion nightlife and other activities that were sitting in front of me on the bus.
- Funny thing… turns out the one of the Swedes actually travelled with a girl I met from Holland who I chilled with in Phuket. Odd!
- Rented a bike and cruised the post-colonial streets of Luang Prabang and some villages off the Lonely Planet map. It seemed like this city was the epicentre of the snail-speed lifestyle of Laos.
- Played Jenga over some drinks and shisha with my new Swedish pals and a guy from Manitoba. Then, went bowling after cramming 10 folks into a tuk-tuk. The bowling allies here are essentially a mass congregation of drunk foriegners (don’t worry, a majority being respectful, and no, I wasn’t one of them – drunk that is) since nothing is open past 11:00 PM – curfew time.
- After two nights there, got a bus to Vang Vieng, which prior to purchase, consisted of myself dodging back and forth between the laundry mat and travel agent. Long story short: the lady who did my laundry is simply one of the kindest souls I’ve met along the way. Although she could probably sense the frustration in me (trying to get to places but nothing’s in your favour isn’t the greatest recipe for happiness), she remained calm, cool and collected despite the immense language barrier and a white girl sweating her pants off in the Mekong heat. On top of that, she had my laundry done a good 6 hours before scheduled! So lady, if you ever read this, all I have to say is: thank you/you rock.
- On what was initally a super spacious mini bus, I met a girl from Dusseldorf who I ended up sharing a room with in Vang Vieng (40,000 kip each for a super nice hotel. Bazinga!). I say “initially super spacious” because after picking up a local family of 5 and two hitch hikers whose ride broke down, “super spacious” isn’t exactly what it was. Still a joyful ride nonetheless (plastic bags and napkins made quite the journey in and out of the van for the motion sick kiddos). But seriously, it was actually really nice: orange sunset in the purple skies and sillohettes of Laotion cliffs. Ah. Carpe diem.
- Went rock climbing with the Swedes who I met up with the next day. Krabi stole my heart though.
- Oh, and I’ll just say that this Argentinian couple were simply the bomb-diggity: since my new German friend was Bangkok-bound the next day, I could not afford an 80,000 kip room. So, for the time-being that I was homeless and about to venture up some cliffs, this couple generously afford to keep my bag in their room, rather than under the public staircase. Gracias, mis amigos nuevos.
- Now, I’m at Pan’s Place, which is pretty much a cozy bungalow shack with a not-so-great lock. For now, I got a make-shift barrier that I made with the extra mattress. Burgarlers beware: if this bad boy falls on me midst slumber, I’m about to go ape shit on you thieving swines!
So there’s my update for you as of the eve of April 24th, 2012. Khawp jai for reading.