This post is well over due since its been about 3 weeks since we left Laos. I went into Laos not really knowing what to expect, really just going to add it to my list of countries. I left having fallen in love with the county and counting the day until I can return.
We spent almost two weeks, and since we had such little time we only did the northern area of Laos. We started in Vientane then up to Vang Vieng and ended in Luang Prabang.
Funny story about this Monument below. It was built with cement that the USA give to Laos in order to build a new airport, causing some to give it the nick name “the vertical runway”.
Vientiane is the current capital of Laos and it made a very good first impression on us. After a month in Thailand, and dealing with hawkers always trying to get you to buy something, or rip you off in some way, our guards were fully up. We soon learned this was not so necessary in Laos, in fact I think we might have offended a few people in the beginning with our untrusting ways. Not only were the people very friendly and laid back, but the city was much cleaner than Thailand, which was a little surprising considering Laos is much poorer of a county. Mix that together with what the french gave them during their colonial day (mostly buildings and the technique for baking good bread) and you are left with a very nice place to visit.
The next place we visited was Vang Vieng, which is a small town on a river, famous for inner tubing. In fact a little to famous for the locals liking. Last year about 25 people died on the river due to to much beer and bad decisions (mostly Australian, which is to no surprise to anyone who has traveled in SE Asia). This led the local powers in charge to close down all the river side bars and to close the larger nightclubs near the river.
This didn’t matter to us at all, the inner tubing down the river was still super fun and relaxing. We just brought our own beer from the town and kept it cold in the river, saving us thousands of KIP (a few dollars).
We also spent a day Kayaking down the river, which was a lot of fun. You get to see more of the river by kayaking, but Sam and I both enjoyed the tubing more. It was just so peaceful, and relaxing.
After a few relaxing day in Vang Vieng, we headed to our last city in Laos, Luang Prabang. Getting there was the longest 7 hours of my life. The road we took snaked though the mountains, up and down, side to side. And although the scenery was beautiful, the bad roads and the motions of the van had everyone feeling green.
Luang Prabang is an ancient capital city of Laos, filled with a very interesting mix of Buddhist temples and French architecture. The city is so interesting that most of the downtown area is listed as a UNESCO site.
Besides sight seeing in Luang Prabang, we also rented a motorbike one day and took a 30 km drive though the mountains to get to one of the coolest waterfalls I’ve ever seen.
Swimming in the falls was amazing, despite the cold water. There was also an Asian Black Bear sanctuary within the park which was great to see. Asian Black Bears are farmed all over Asia (including Korea) for their bile, which is used in Chinese medicine. These Bears are basically tortured their whole life, and it’s been proven the the bile has no positive health benefits. In fact it may be dangerous for people to use. This is an issue that was first bought to my attention while living in Korea, and it was great to see that at least a few bears have been saved from poaching and bile farms and now get to live a happy life.
Anyways, back to the main topic. After Luang Prabang our time in Laos was over. We had a great time, I can’t wait to go back someday, and I recommend anyone traveling South East Asia to make a stop in Laos…Well, see you later.