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Laos

Vientiane
The plane landed in Laos capital Vientiane in the evening. A short bus ride later we were at our accomidation. On the tour we only had one night in the capital. I walked to the river where we could see Thailand on the other side. After exploring the night market on the river front for a short while we all decided to get food and drink. The tour had lost two people and gained another four for our last stretch through Laos. after dinner we decided to go bowling. The centre was called Laos bowling centre. Bowling is popular in Laos because bars shut at midnight, but the bowling alleys can stay open. The bowling alley was run down but that was the beauty in it. You could either rent shoes or bowl barefoot. After a game everyone headed back to the hotel for a early night apart from me who went to bed at 3Am due to talking to much.
The next morning four of us jumped into a Tuk Tuk and headed to a temple called Phangan That Luang. It is a big gold glamorous temple. After exploring the grounds and playing with cats we headed back to the Tuk Tuk. Our driver let us sit on the front of the Tuk Tuk and take a photo. He was a lovely old man who’s Tuk Tuk was called Speed Eagle. The next stop was the COPE centre. This centre provides prosthetic limbs to people who have fallen victim to old land minds detonating from the war. Unfortunately we could not go in the centre as it was closed due to Laos national day. Craving some western food the driver took us to a cafe/ bakery called Jarmon. After a delicious lunch we returned to the hotel to catch the bus to Vang Vein.

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Vang Vein

The bus ride was very bumpy with breath taking scenery. Once we had arrived it was straight out to dinner as everyone was hungry. The restaurants by the river had TVs playing American shows such as Friends or Family Guy. Siting on the floor you munched down your food watching TV it was a very chilled out atmosphere. I decided to not do tubbing in Laos but to go tubing in a cave then kayak down the river with that in mind i called it a early night.
The next morning I was up early and in the back of a truck heading to the caves. Once the truck parked up you had to walk through rice fields and a village to get to the cave. I sat on my rubber ring with my head torch on and followed the guide into the cave by pulling myself along on apiece of rope. It was pitch black in the cave and at some points chaotic when another tubing group coming back using the same rope collided with you. Once out of the cave it was lunch time before driving to the kayaking spot. We followed our guides down the river and encountered a few small rapids. After a hour down river the tubing bars started to appear and we stopped off at one for a break. There was a basket ball hoop with water squirting out, hula hooping, beer pong, ping pong and hammocks. Every time you bought a drink you received a shot of tequila and a free bracelet. A few of us were really enjoying ourselves and did not want to leave so we snook a few beers on to the kayaks . Well the rest of the afternoon was spent paddling intoxicated and singing all the way down the river with stop offs for the bathroom in the river. I also helped some tubers get to there exit on time. It took them two hours from the last bar to the finish. It was a quick shower and back out for food then onto a few bars for drinks. That night we went to Fat Monkey and Kangaroo Sunset. I preferred the sunset bar it had free drinks until 10:30, good music and it was busy. A few of us signed the wall as we drank our very strong free drinks. The bus picked us up the next morning at 7AM to drive is to Louang Prabang. I think everyone was a little hungover from the nights antics as we boarded the bus in our free tank tops from bars around Laos.
The journey was not far but it was a slow climb through the mountains up a windy rode. We stopped off at a market which sold every dead animal you could think of to Chinese tourists. We walked through the market to see the sight of dead bears, monkeys, frogs and porcupines. Once back on the bus everyone tried to sleep as the bus wound up the mountains. We stopped at a view point before lunch which was beautiful you felt like you were on top of the world. The toilets also had no wall in them so you could sit and take in the view on the loo as well. The next stop was lunch in a local cafe it did not go down well with me. The cafe had the same smell as the market which we had walked through that morning the smell of dead animals. I could not stomach my lunch due to the smell so I bought a packet of Oreos and after biting into one soon realised they were out of date. We traveled on for another two hours.

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Louang Prabang
This was our last stop before two days on the Mekong River. That night we ate at a street called Food Street it is a narrow back street full of food vendors and small tables for you to enjoy your food on. The big attraction on this street was the all you can eat buffet stand. On the Main Street is a night market which I wondered up and down the rest of the night. The next morning there was four of us heading to the waterfalls. Once again we were in a Tuk Tuk at full speed up in the mountains. As you walk to the waterfalls you pass through a bear rescue centre were you can see some gorgeous Bears. The centre also explains how miss treated the Bears are and how people hunt them. We came out at the bottom of the lagoons so we walked straight up to the top to see the waterfall first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a waterfall so big in all my life. The cameras came out and after a few photos we headed back to the lagoons for a swim. I was fine in the misty blue water until I saw a massive crab fall into the lagoon and I made a very quick exit scaring the life out of everyone. The bottom lagoon was the calmest this is were we spent the rest of our time swimming before heading back to the tuk tuk. On the way to the waterfalls we stopped and had a picture with the Hmong Tribe. The children were stood on the road side in traditional clothes waiting for tourists. Our ride back to town was very scary as our Tuk Tuk crashed into the back of another then proceeded to over take the other Tuk Tuk round a corner. It was time for some much needed lunch and a nap after the waterfalls. That evening I ended up down Food Street and the night market again. This is the town where most monks live and in a morning at 5:30 AM you can go see them all lined up receiving food. Unfortunately I never made this, both mornings my alarms were set but I did not get up.

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Mekong River and Home Stay

It was another early morning as we boarded two trucks to start our journey up the Mekong River to Thailand. The boat we travelled on was a traditional long boat. The driver and hid family lived on the boat so we had to treat it like a home, taking our shoes off when we entered. The front of the boat had four sets of long seats which could be laid on and the rest of the boat had wooden seats with tables down either side with a small bar at the end. The day was full of card games, naps and talking whilst we took in the beautiful scenery. At one point we passed a cave with four thousand Buddhas inside. There was a lot of water buffalo along the side of the river and it kept our guide amused as he made animal calls from the boat. Just before sun set the boat pulled into a beach. Walking through the beach and up a steep path we entered the village belonging to the Don Chang tribe.
Don a Chang tribes was our host for one night. The boats do not travel at night because it is to dangerous with the shallow waters. The tribe believed in animal spirits. If one of us looked unhappy or complained and a villager heard they would kill a animal to get rid of the bad energy we had caused. We got a quick tour around the village before settling at the Shermans house for dinner. The food was amazing very spicy but tasted so good. By the time we had finished dinner the children of the village had become alive wanting to play games and talk to us. We all quickly split into small groups and went to our home for the night. I was in the villages corner shop with a family and two others from my group. We were sleeping in the lounge on a mat each with a mosquito net hung up. After our bags were dropped off and we had figured out the outside bathroom situation we all headed back to the beach. The children came down from the village onto the beach and some of the teenagers as well. The night was spent playing games with the children such as leap frog, piggy back rides and clapping games. The end of the night featured shadow puppets on the beach which mesmerised the children. We shone a torch on the sand whilst others made animal shapes out of their hands. The children loved it trying to chase and smack the shadow in the sand. Everyone was worn out we headed to bed. I did not sleep well that night due to all the animal noises outside. Before I knew it I woke up to our guide calling my name and it was 5AM… Time to get back onto the boat. The second day on the river was very much like the first relaxing and napping. When the boat docked eight hours later we boarded a Tuk Tuk which took us to Laos immigration. Once Laos immigration was complete we had to board a bus which took us to Thailand’s immigration. It was at this point that the bus set off and we looked out of the window to see our tour guide chasing the bus down still smiling. After our guide managed to get on the bus we went on to Thai immigration. We had one night in Chang Rook before setting off early the next morning for Chiang Mai.
It was a three hour journey to a Chiang Mai. We had two stop offs the first was the “White Temple”. The temple had been created by a modern artist and was very quirky and unique. The next stop was a resort called ” Cabbage and condom”. This resort was started by a man who created a safe sex campaign in Thailand to educate people about condoms. The campaigns name was ” Cabbage and Condom”. Shortly after our stop offs we were in Chiang Mai. Only having one night and afternoon left with my tour we had a relaxing pedicure then went out for drinks. The next morning the rest of my tour ventured on to Bangkok but I decided to leave and go see what Pai had to offer, so after some goodbyes and see you laters I boarded a mini bus for my three hour uphill journey to Pai.

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