We got to Laos on my birthday and stayed in the pretty town of Luang Prabang. It was a lot posher than we expected and full of very well-to-do older tourists. Our guest house was great and we even had a “shower cabin”. My birthday was a bit of a quiet one as we were worn out having spent all day in airports and visa queues, but we went out for a really nice dinner which cost quite a lot of money (thanks mummy). I even had Norwegian smoked salmon, think of the food miles! The following day we visited the Royal Palace to have a look around (there was a car collection there which kept David happy), and then climbed the big hill in the middle of the town to see the temples and the Buddha´s footprint.
After another day relaxing by the river we got the bus to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. We had several choices and opted for the VIP bus (VIP my arse!) which turned out to be one of the worst bus journeys ever. We were in what appeared to be the ambulance section of the bus and the lady right in front of me spent the whole journey groaning and coughing up luminous phlegm into plastic bags. I´m not sure what was wrong with her but she really wasn´t very well. What made it worse was that David picked up one of her spit bags which had slid under his feet thinking it was washing up liquid (yes it really was that colour). Then he wouldn´t believe me when I told him what it was and stuck his hand straight into our crisps – yuck yuck yuck! Then she started coughing up again and he finally believed me.
We arrived in Vientiane and were soon cheered up by lamb chops, mash, gravy, peas and mint sauce at the local Hare and Hounds Pub who also had cider! In Vientiane we went and had a look around the national museum which was mainly about the revolution in Laos, and then David had a really expensive hair cut by a Tony and Guy trained hairdresser which he didn´t enjoy because they insisted on giving him a scalp massage and putting lots of products in his hair. I got to read magazines and a posh English woman, who thought that I was South African, started talking to me about fancy sun lotion which I had never heard of. We also got a Tuk Tuk and went to see a Buddhist monument.
Then it was the sleeper bus to Pakse. It had actual lying down beds in it which we weren´t expecting. I thought that it might make me feel really sick but it was great and we managed to get a decent amount of sleep. We got to Pakse on time and were picked up by the people who were going to transfer us to 4000 Islands. We were on the mini bus for about five minutes before we stopped at their office and then had to wait for an hour and a half. When we eventually got back on the mini bus it kept having to stop because the gearbox was knackered but we arrived at 4000 Islands in the end and it was well worth the hassle.
It was a lot more down to earth and in our price range on the island we stayed on, Don Det. We decided to hire bikes and cycle over the bridge to the next island, Don Khong, and see the waterfalls. It was an interesting experience, having not ridden a bike for about 17 years. David tried to kill me by making me ride down a long, stony, unshaded track in blistering heat which didn´t, as it turned out, actually lead anywhere. Fortunately I had a hissy fit halfway and turned around, thinking that I may be developing heat exhaustion. When we finally managed to get on the right road it was much more enjoyable. We also went on a tour to see some river dolphins (or not as it happened). Going to see things which aren´t there is incredibly boring!
Next stop was to be Siem Reap in Cambodia. The bus journey wasn´t too bad despite being three hours longer than described by the guy we bought tickets off, and having to share close quarters with a very arrogant French chap. But we did meet a nice girl who was travelling with her young son. Very brave to do that on on your own I think.
Not sure what else to say as David wont let me rant too much or tell you about smelly, leaking cats!
Lots of love Sian (and David) xxx