I'm not that familiar with Laos. It's one of SE Asia's only land locked countries and sits between Thailand and Vietnam. It has such a small population but is one of those destinations that every backpacker in SE Asia. At this point in the trip I was crazy crazy ill. I had a fever (which I had before I’d even left) and a terrible cold. A lot of us on this trip has insane allergies and spent most of the trip sniffling away! Take antihistamines if you are prone to hay fever or any type of allergy!
On our second day in Luang Prabang we got up early to give alms to the Monks. This is a off Contiki thing that we did but I was really glad we got to do it as it was an incredible sight to be seen. As Monks have no possessions, they accept offerings off the people and each monastery wanders around collecting food for themselves each day. It was really interesting seeing this as it’s unlike anything I’d experienced before.
We also headed to a waterfall called Kuang Si Falls. I’ve always been one of those people who sort of held back when it came to going in the water. I have a bit of a phobia of drowning so I’ve always avoided it as much as I can. But I think the fact the whole place was incredibly beautiful I just had to jump right in. I even jumped off a branch into a pool. Probably not that crazy for some but it was a big deal to me!
For a little bit of extra culture we took a trip to the Royal Palace museum. Laos was a french colonised country for a long time so it’s interesting to see how the french influenced a lot of their building styles. PhaBang is one of Laos’s most sacred images of Buddha and one of the most impressive statues I saw on my trip. It was a huge reclining Buddha! Of course I had to get a selfie with it.
That next day then headed on a 7 hour drive to Vang Vieng. The drive itself was a visual treat, stopping off at various sight seeing hot spots. A cafe we stopped at for lunch called Perfect View Restaurant. Was just that. Taking snaps up the top of this mountain deep in the Laos Jungle. It was crazy just looking at it. All the way along the drive we saw snippets of rural Laos culture and how people really lived. The road was windy and sprawling and I did have a few moments were I was worried we were going to topple off the side of a cliff! Cant say it was the safest ride!
Vang Vieng used to be a must stop on the backpacker trail. It was really known for tubing before the whole thing got shut down a few years ago because it got way too dangerous. It’s absolutely beautiful there though. I really need to find a thesaurus and use some words other than beautiful! We’d spent the whole day travelling so it was great to kick back and chill out in the pool and soak up some sun. As per usual we headed out into the town to have some dinner and drinks.
The following day I was sick and spent the whole day in bed. I hated that I missed a day but I needed a day to relax and refresh. I do think that I really needed that stop as I was getting more and more ill as the trip went on. Im sad as that was the day we were supposed to go canoeing, biking and tubing in some caves! Loads of the guys said the tubing bit was really scary because it’s rainy season right now and the water is so high and strong! I just lounged in bed and watched TV… not very backpacker eh.
The next city on our tour of Laos was Vientiane. The small but perfectly formed capital of Laos. The city was styled after Chinese and French influences to show a interesting and varied city.
We went to a charity project called COPE which showed us about the secret war in Laos around the same time as the Vietnam war. Over 200 million bombs were dropped on Laos for no apparent reason and the USA refuse to accept responsibility for it. Laos is one of the worlds most bombed countries despite being declared neutral. It's absolutely mind blowing to me that a nation of 7 million was bombed for NO reason. It was partly to do with the fact the Viet Kong hid out in Northen Laos but still. They weren’t event involved in the war yet still people die everyday for unexploded bombs. It was sobering experience but it set the bar for the next few days as we headed to Cambodia. COPE is charity project that helps victims of UXO’s (unexploded ordinances).
We also went to Patuaxi which is the Laos version of the Arc de Triomphe. It does look a lot like the Arc de Triomphe but with Laos and Chinese influences. We had a group photo here and as you can tell I was so enthusiastic about that haha!