Crossing the Border – Don Det, Laos to Kratie, Cambodia

We only had one more day left on our Laos visas, so it was time to move on…to Cambodia!

We booked a package ticket from Don Det to Kratie, which included the boat ride from Don Det to Ban Nakasang, the bus to the Cambodian border, and then another bus to Kratie, a tiny town in Northeastern Cambodia.

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The route

We woke up and walked to the beach where the boat was to pick us up at approximately 8am.  It showed up around 8:30 and took us across the river to the bus station.

Once at the bus station, this schmancy looking guy, naming himself our ‘guide,’ gave us the required border crossing documents to fill out.  He then asked us to give him our passports, the documents, and $40 to get all of our visas for us.  Cambodia visas only cost $35, but then there’s the stamping fee scam of $1 by both sides, and the bribe to get through without a passport photo (which neither of us had.)  Even if we had refused the guy and tried to go through on our own, it probably would have worked out to be about the same price or only a dollar or two less, so we decided the convenience was worth it.

The process of everyone filling out the documents and giving them to the guy took forever, and then we sat around waiting for a long time.  No one ever seems to tell you what you’re waiting for, but you have no choice, so you just wait.

Finally, we were instructed to board the bus that would take us to the border crossing.  Despite being very close to the border already, the condition of the road wasn’t great so it still took about an hour to get there.

Once we got to the border, we got off the bus and sat around waiting for our ‘guide’ to get out visas for us, which took at least another hour.  Eventually we were instructed to walk across the border (you can’t be driven) where we were stopped for this ridiculous “health check” scam.  Basically it was this plastic gun looking thing that they pointed about 3 inches from our necks, pressed a button, then it made a little beeping sound.  What this was allegedly ‘checking’ for, we had no idea, but it cost an additional $1 (included in the $40 we gave the ‘guide.’)

Once on the other side of the border, we waited to receive our visas and then had to wait for the handful of pioneers that decided to cross on their own, instead of paying the guide. When they finally made it over, they revealed that they had saved $3 by doing it on their own.

Finally, after more mysterious waiting, it was time for us to get on the last bus to our final destination.

As expected, the roads were horrendous and it took about 5 more hours to get to Kratie, making our journey a total of approximately 9 hours from Don Det.

We got off at the bus station, happy that we decided to stop in Kratie instead of going straight away to Pnom Penh, which is another 6 to 8 hours away-and where most everyone else on the bus was going.

We had no idea where to go once we got to Kratie, so we just started asking tuk tuk drivers to take us to a guesthouse.  Luckily, we found one who offered us a free ride to River Dolphin Hotel and promised us a $5 room.

We hopped on the tuk tuk and drove about 5 minutes out of town to the hotel, where we were greeted with glasses of orange juice and moist, minted towels (Jojo is convinced they were merely soaked in mouthwash, but whatever, it felt fancy.)  We were lead to our $5 room as promised, and were pleased to find that it was way nicer than any of the $10 rooms we had stayed in Laos!

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant before retiring back to our room, happy to have finally made it to Cambodia and ready to start our journey through the country!

Snacks: 30,000kip

Bus Package: 380,000kip

Lunch: $5 USD

2-Cambodia Visas: $84 USD

Dinner: $10.25 USD

Accommodation: $5 USD

Total Spent: $154.71 USD

Don Det – The 4,000 Islands

In the southern-most part of Laos, right on the border of Cambodia, in the middle of the Mekong, lies Don Det–one of the major islands of Si Phan Don, also known as the 4,000 Islands.

We arrived in Don Det after a pain staking journey from the North, ready to do what everyone comes to Don Det to do–nothing!

Well, not entirely nothing, but mostly.

We arrived by boat in the early afternoon where we promptly found a bungalow, equipped with a private bathroom and two hammocks in front.  We dropped off our bags and set off to walk the 7-8km path following the perimeter of the island to see what was going on.

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The main road of Don Det
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Jojo next to the river
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Some local livestock

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We explored the island for a couple of hours, passing by playing children, feral dogs, and local houses built on stilts.  We even passed a raging party of Laotians, in the middle of a dry rice field.  They were dancing to strange pop music and downing shots of lao lao, the local rice whisky.  At first we were anxious about interrupting their party, but then they started beckoning us to join them!  We declined because it was like 1pm, but it was really hilarious to see!

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Lao children carrying puppies down the road

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Once we got to the other side of the island, we stopped at a place called One Last Bar, where we ordered two amazing homemade ginger ales and enjoyed the riverside view.

Don Det is similar to Vang Vieng in that there are drug-filled edibles available everywhere (happy shakes, happy bags), lots of people with dreadlocks, and…not a ton of Lao culture.  That being said, it is wayyyyyyy less rowdy and much more laid back.  One could argue that Don Det is also a ‘party town’ but people are not nearly as loud or obnoxious about it.

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Not as subtle as in Vang Vieng

That evening, we had dinner at Jasmin Restaurant, (one of the best Indian restaurants ever) before retiring to our modest bungalow.  The mosquito net was essential too, because it was sweltering hot until about 3am (so we had to open the windows, to even be able to sleep.)

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The next morning we decided to move to a different bungalow.  There was nothing wrong with the one we had been in the first night, but we decided it would be worth the extra $2.50 to get one right on the river.

We found one on the other side of the island that better suited our needs, and decided the day would be best spent in the hammocks out front.  I do not exaggerate when I say that is all we did the entire day, with the exception of brief ventures out for food at mealtimes.  After our lengthy journey down the entirety of the country, it was well deserved and well appreciated!

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…and then we did the same exact thing the next day.  Don’t judge, you would have too.

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After two glorious days of doing nothing, we decided it was time to go out and explore again.  This time, we rented bicycles and rode across the bridge to the neighboring island of Don Khon.  

We rode along the bumpy dirt road of Don Det to the bridge that connects the two islands.  It was scenic, but also painful.

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The bumpy dirt road
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Crossing the bridge to Don Khon

Once we crossed the bridge, we headed straight for Tat Somphamit, also known as the Li Phi waterfalls.  Apparently ‘Li Phi’ means spirit trap and it is believed that the spirits of dead people and animals are trapped there.  Despite its morbid mythology, the raging waterfall was spectacular!

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The top of the Li Phi waterfalls

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We walked all the way down to the bottom of the falls to Li Phi Beach.  Although the water was much slower at the bottom, there were still signs warning people not to try to swim because of the currents.  It was still nice to walk along the beach, though.

We went back to our bikes and decided to continue on to Tha Sanam Beach a little further along, which was also really pleasant, though the sand was a thousand degrees and really painful to walk on.  We stopped for a coconut at one of the stands near the entrance before heading back.

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We rode back to Don Det in the blazing afternoon heat, just in time to catch sunset at a local restaurant.  The hazy clouds made it look like an orange ball just floating above the trees.

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We had done just about all there was to ‘do’ in the 4,000 Islands, but we wanted just one more day of lounging around in the hammocks.  After all, we still had a couple more days left on our Lao visas and we had no other destinations planned before heading to Cambodia.

So, we did!  And it was just as satisfying as the other days.  We also treated ourselves to a wood-fired pizza at a restaurant down the road which was excellent.

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…then Jojo got sick. 😦

We were worried it was food poisoning, but it ended up passing pretty quickly (and luckily, because had a long bus ride booked for the next morning.)

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We loved Don Det and wanted to stay forever.  We were really glad that our change of plans ended up taking us there, when we had not originally planned to go.

We were also sad to say goodbye to Laos, but excited to venture into Cambodia.  Laos was good to us, and we will surely visit again some day.

Nong Khiaw – Exploring Northern Laos

We booked a mini-bus from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw at our hotel.  We were picked up around 8:30am and transported to the bus station, where we were crammed into a minibus and set off to our destination.  The roads were horrible as expected and our driver flew over the potholes in a way that made our heads bang against the ceiling of the van, but we made it there in about three and a half hours instead of the four or five we were expecting.

We were hounded by tuk tuk drivers offering us rides into the town, but it was a short walk so we decided to go on our own.  Once there, we negotiated a room with a balcony overlooking the river for 50,000kip a night, which we were very pleased about.

Nong Khiaw is absolutely stunning and the epitome of peaceful.  It’s situated between towering mountains and divided by the Ou River, surrounded by fantastic views and charming in itself.  The local children are adorable to watch as they bike and run up and down the road playing and teasing passerbys.  One little boy even shot at us with a bamboo mud gun!  We spent the afternoon enjoying the town and went to a fantastic Indian restaurant for dinner.

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The view from our guesthouse in Nong Khiaw

The next day, we set out on adventure to explore the surrounding areas of Nong Khiaw.  We saw signs pointing toward a cave, so we decided to start there.  It ended up being one of the most scenic hikes we’d ever been on!  

The journey started on a dirt road through the mountains.

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Following the dirt road to the caves
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There were loads of funnel-web spiders along the path!

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Soon, we came upon a village where we paid a small fee to get to the cave.  After walking a short way through the village, the painted arrows directed us through breathtaking fields and farms, all surrounded by the towering mountains in the distance.

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Passing through the village
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Walking along the dried rice paddies
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In the wet season, each section is flooded and used to grow rice
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More fields

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After we got through the farms, we followed a small path through the jungle and up to the caves.

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Hiking through the jungle, getting closer to the cave

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When we finally made it to the cave, there were more painted signs that said things like “Assembly Group” and “Meeting Room.”  During the war, this region was heavily bombed, and the local people took shelter in the surrounding caves.  We assumed that the signs had something to do with what they used each ‘room’ of the cave for during those tragic times.

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We finally made it to the Houay Tor Cave!
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A spooky old lantern found in one of the rooms of the cave

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After exploring the cave and making our way back, we arrived back in Nong Khiaw many hours later and got lunch at Delilah’s, a well known cafe in Nong Khiaw.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing after our long and difficult hike before getting dinner at Deen, the same Indian restaurant we went to the night before.  (That’s how much we loved it!)

Nong Khiaw was beautiful, and well worth the horrid bus ride north from Luang Prabang; and we would be venturing even further north to Muang Ngoi the following day!

2/6

Bus to Nong Khiaw: 130,000kip

Snacks: 7,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Vinat Restaurant: 60,000kip

Deen Indian Restaurant: 71,000kip

Accommodation: 50,000kip

2/6 Total Spent: 323,000kip ($39.89 USD)

2/7

Breakfast: 40,000kip

Huoy Tor Cave Entrance Fee: 10,000kip

Delilah’s (Lunch): 85,000kip

Deen Indian Restaurant: 72,000kip

Accommodation: 50,000kip

2/7 Total Spent: 257,000kip ($31.74 USD)

Visiting the Pak Ou Caves and Our First Motorbike Accident

About 25 km north of Luang Prabang lie the Pak Ou Caves, two caves that are full of hundreds and hundreds of Buddha statues.  To visit them, you can take a tuk tuk, a boat, or do what we did and rent a moto for the day.

We knew that the route we were taking was going to be lots of dirt paths and some major roadways with traffic, so we opted for a manual motorbike in hopes it would make for an easier journey.  Off roading on a manual motorbike we’ve never driven before?  Sounds like a great idea, right?

The trip started out a little jerky but once Jojo got the hang of the gear shifting, we were cruising along just fine.  Then we reached the beginning of the dirt road.

Bumpy does not even begin describe this road.  We were flying six inches off the seat as we made our way around hairpin turns and up and down dangerously steep inclines.  While it was admittedly terrifying and painful, it was also absolutely thrilling!  We were alone on the road apart from a few locals whizzing by us (and probably laughing at our pathetic attempt at driving on this road.)

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Jojo in front of some of the beautiful scenery we passed while driving to the Pak Ou Caves
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The glorious dirt road

We came to a particularly precipitous incline and started our ascent in second gear, but we were moving too slow and about half way up the hill, the bike slowed to a halt.  When the bike stopped, Jojo switched to first gear, but he was still holding the throttle all the way open.  The bike tried to fly forward, but our weight pulled it back so that instead of taking us up the hill, the front wheel flew up in the air and threw me backwards onto my back.  Time slowed, and I watched in horror as Jojo and the motorbike stood straight up and began descending toward me.  I saw it before it happened: me breaking Joe’s fall, and Joe breaking the bike’s fall.  It would have been a grisly event if Joe hadn’t thrown his weight forward at the last second, re-grounding the wheels and saving us both from being crushed by the bike.  We made it out with a few scrapes and bruises, but we were thankfully unhurt otherwise.  Not to mention, our tablet that I landed on top of, and our camera that was in my hands during the fall suffered no damage–we seriously lucked out!

The rest of the way was mercifully uneventful.  The roads were still treacherous, but Jojo had gotten more acclimated with the bike after our close call and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery as we passed by.

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Passing by farms with mountains in the distance
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We passed lots of animals on our journey, including this adorable baby cow!
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We passed through some villages on our way
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…and our first elephant spotting!! (We pulled over to let them pass.)

Finally we came to a village across the river from the caves.  We parked our bike and hired a boat to take us across for 26,000kip.

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Looking at the caves from across the river
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Boating across to the caves
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The stairs leading up to the caves

When we got to the other side, we got off the boat and walked up the steps to the first cave.  They call it a cave, but it was less of a cave, and more of an overhang–and as promised, it was crammed with Buddha statues of every style and posture!

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Buddha statues in the lower cave

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After exploring the lower cave, we climbed the stairs up to the upper cave.  It was filled with more Buddha statues and went a little deeper than the lower one.  It wasn’t lit up at all, so we had to use our flashlights to explore its depths and find the rest of the statues.

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Exploring the upper cave

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When we were finished with the caves, we got back on the boat that took us to the village where our bike was parked.  We decided to take Route 13 back to the city rather than the back roads, this time!  We made it back to Luang Prabang in good time, but we were really nervous that we would be held responsible for the significant amount of scratches the bike had acquired during our trip to the caves.  We’d heard a lot of horror stories regarding motorbike rental in Luang Prabang, and feared we might be demanded to fork over hundreds of dollars for the damages.  If they noticed the scratches, they didn’t say anything about it and we were relieved to be off the hook!  We finished the day with another dinner of Lao barbecue, grateful for our day of adventure and minimal injury.

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Breakfast: 85,000kip

Motorbike Rental: 120,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Parking: 5,000kip

Boat: 26,000kip

Cave Entrance: 40,000kip

Donation: 5,000kip

Gas: 20,000kip

BBQ: 140,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Accommodation: 80,000kip

Total Spent: 531,000kip ($65.85 USD)

Partying in Luang Prabang – The Bowling Alley

We spent our fourth day in Luang Prabang doing mostly nothing, which was absolutely glorious.

We started off with breakfast at a cafe by the river, then headed to a local bar/restaurant/lounge called Utopia, the same one we had spent an evening drinking, a few days before.  Boasting to be “Zen by Day, Groovy by Night,” Utopia was the perfect place to lay back and relax the day away, lounging on cushions on the deck overlooking the river.

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Sitting by the river on the deck of Utopia

After laying around all day, we decided to watch the sunset at Wat Chom Si.  The Buddhist temple sits atop Mount Phou Si, a 330 foot hill in the center of Luang Prabang, which we climbed up about half an hour before the sun went down.  We hadn’t expected much out of it, but the view of the city and surrounding scenery was surprisingly spectacular!

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The view from the top of Mount Phou Si

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It was a bit cloudy, so the sunset was a little lack luster; but once it had disappeared behind the mountains, the clouds lit up in all kinds of stunning colors.

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Then, we walked around the temple to see the moon on the other side!

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We had worked up an appetite climbing up and down the hill, and decided on another dinner of Lao barbecue.  This time, we tried a place by the river where each person gets a plate for 60,000kip, and can refill it an unlimited number of times with raw meats and veggies to cook.

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We had heard it on the lips of other backpackers many times since arriving in Luang Prabang: “Have you been to the bowling alley?” The bowling alley is one of the few establishments open past the midnight curfew in the city, and where all of the boisterous partiers go when the bars in town shut down.  We were curious, but hadn’t made it there yet, mostly because we usually go to bed long before anyone goes there.

On this night, we were determined to see what it was about.  We headed back to Utopia around 10, where most of the backpackers seem to start their nights.  After a few beers in the garden, things started to shut down around 11:30.  At this point, there was a mass exodus down the path to a hoard of tuk-tuks waiting to shuttle people to the bowling alley.  As we walked toward them, we made fast friends with a pair of Dutch guys that were happy to bargain for us down to only 5,000kip each for the ride.

Once our tuk tuk was full, we set out on a short ride to the lanes.  I think we had expected some kind of swag bowling alley, but it the exact opposite.  The place was all white concrete and bright, BRIGHT fluorescent lights–not at all what you’d expect for a late night party spot, but party we did.  The group of us in the tuk tuk ended up going in on a lane together which cost 20,000kip per person, per game.  Every lane was packed with backpackers drinking, bowling, and being extremely loud, as is expected.  Our lane was no exception and we soon made friends with the group of people in the lane next to us, making our crowd even bigger and louder.  It was really quite fun!

Around 2am, our group decided it was time to head back to town, so we shared a loud, drunken, and hilarious tuk tuk ride back to our guesthouses.  Shamefully, we didn’t have a camera or phone on us so we don’t have any pictures of the night, but we will surely hold the memory forever in our hearts.

Breakfast: 60,000kip

Utopia: 100,000kip

Mount Phou Si Fee: 40,000kip

Street Barbecue: 150,000kip

Utopia: 85,000kip

Tuk Tuk: 10,000kip

Bowling Alley: 110,000kip

Tuk Tuk: 20,000kip

Water: 5,000kip

Accommodation: 80,000kip

Total Spent: 660,000kip ($81.51 USD)

Vientiane – Exploring the Quiet Capital

We had dedicated our first full day in Vientiane to one of our favorite activities of simply wandering around.

Our first stop was That Dam, also known as the Black Stupa.  Legend has it that this structure was once covered in gold and inhabited by a naga, a seven-headed serpent, that tried to protect it during the Siamese-Laotian War in the early 19th century.  Allegedly, all of the gold was taken by the Siamese Army during the attack on Vientiane.  The structure isn’t really ‘used’ for anything anymore, other than a centerpiece for city festivals and events, but it is still regarded as a ‘guardian spirit’ of the city.

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That Dam, aka Black Stupa

As we walked along the streets of Vientiane, we were careful to avoid the loose concrete slabs that line the sidewalks.  Underneath is the sewage system and in some places there are large gaps where an unknowing passerby might find him/herself falling into grey water.

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Exposed grey water

Our next stop was the Patuxai Arch, also known as the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane.  The concrete used to construct Patuxai was actually donated to Laos by the United States for the purpose of building a new airport.  The Laotian government had another idea in mind, which is how it got its nickname: the vertical runway.  Patuxai is dedicated to the people who struggled for independence from France, so it is just slightly larger than the Arc de Triomphe, to trump its French counterpart.

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Walking to Patuxai
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Nicole sitting in front of Patuxai, aka the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane
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Ceiling underneath Patuxai

We paid a small fee to climb the steps to the top where we got a beautiful view of Vientiane and the fountains below.  Although it was clearly inspired by the Arc de Triomphe, it has a lot of traditional Laotian architecture and design as well.

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Jojo looking out over the roof of Patuxai
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Architectural detail of one of the towers
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The view from the top of Patuxai

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For lunch we decided to try a local dish: papaya salad.  It’s made with shredded, unripened papaya flavored with shrimp, crab, and fish paste giving it a very pungent flavor.  It’s also quite spicy.  Not terrible, but probably wouldn’t get it again.

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Papaya salad

After lunch, we wandered around Vientiane and stumbled upon some beautiful pagodas and other monuments.  The city seems relatively empty most of the time and we really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.

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Jojo posing in front of the World Peace Gong
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The emergency room in Vientiane
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Chao Anouvong (the monarch and leader of the Laotian Rebellion)

Several times, we were enthusiastically approached by Chinese tourists insisting that we pose for pictures with them.  Sometimes it would be a group of 20-something girls and sometimes it was middle-aged couples, but every time it included at least 5 different photos of us in different arrangements.  It was really strange and without explanation, but we found it quite humorous.

We made our way back to city center for dinner at Lao Kitchen where we tried another local specialty: laap.  Laap consists of minced meat (we went for duck) flavored with fish sauce, lime, mint, and chili along with an assortment of other spices and herbs.  In contrast with the papaya salad we had tried earlier, we really enjoyed this dish and thought it was actually the best food we had tried since arriving in Southeast Asia.

We ended the night at Bor Pen Nyang, a local bar with a balcony overlooking the river.  It was full of people but still really relaxed at the same time – a great end to our first day in Laos!

Breakfast: 70,000kip ($8.62 USD)

Patuxai: 6,000kip ($0.74 USD)

Water: 5,000kip ($0.62 USD)

Sunscreen: 90,000kip ($11.08 USD)

Lunch: 60,000kip ($7.38 USD)

Dinner: 73,000kip ($8.98 USD)

Bor Pen Nyang: 60,000kip ($7.38 USD)

Water: 5,000kip ($0.62 USD)

Accommodation: 70,000kip ($8.62 USD)

Total Spent: 439,000kip = ($54.03 USD)

Getting to Laos – An epic journey from Hanoi to Vientiane

We had our hotel book a bus ticket for us in Hanoi.  Depending on who you asked or what you read, the journey to Vientiane, Laos would be somewhere between 24 and 31 hours.

“Is this a sleeper bus?”

“Yes, yes, sleep!”

At 5pm, a man on a motorbike showed up at our hotel and beckoned us to follow him.  “Laos?  You come.”  We picked up our bags and followed this man through the streets of Hanoi, where he was literally corralling a group of backpackers on the side of the road.  He pointed at us, pointed at the group, then took off to go wrangle up some more.

Once all of the passengers had been collected, we boarded a small van.  Naturally, there were more people than there were seats on this van, so some of the passengers had to stand/hunch as the van departed.  At this point, we all started joking that this would be the bus to Vientiane.

Luckily for us, and especially for the people standing, the van dropped us at the bus station after a short drive out of the city where we were herded to the desk to collect our tickets.

Our bus was meant to depart at 7pm but it was more like 7:30 or 8.  Once we located the sleeper bus, we found that the storage areas under the bus (where they normally put your bags) was full of goods being sent to Laos.  It is not uncommon for transportation buses to be transporting more than just people, but we had never seen it as packed as this.  In fact, it seemed like transporting people was far from a main priority for the people running this bus.

They started barking at the tourists in Vietnamese and eventually started shouting and pointing, “Bag! Bag!”  We fell in line and handed them our bags and watched them stack our bags up in the aisles of the bus.  Once all of our packs were on board, the bus driver snapped at us again and motioned for us to get out of the way, as they let all of the locals board the bus first.

Once the locals were comfortably seated (all in the front of the bus, by the way) we were nastily ordered to the back of the bus, where we had to climb over and on top of each other’s bags to get to our seats.  At first we were anxious to find that we had been stuck in the very back of the bus, where the seats are all smashed up against each other with about 2 feet of space between the bottom and top rows.  It was very similar to sharing a twin bed with 2 other people,  uncomfortably intimate and squished.  The silver lining was that the seats in the very back of the bus recline all the way so that you can actually lay flat, which ended up making up for the lack of space.

We actually ended up sleeping better on this bus than any of the previous sleeper buses we had taken.  At around 5 or 6am we arrived at the Vietnam-Laos border where we had to wait for the office to open at 7am.

We exited the bus and lined up at the window to get stamped out of Vietnam before we could get our Laotian visas.  After paying a “stamping fee” of $1, we then had to walk 2km to the Laotian side to get our visas processed.  After filling out our applications and waiting around for several hours, we finally got our visas and officially begun our journey through Laos!

We hopped back on the bus once everyone had gotten through the border crossing and made our way to the capital city of Vientiane.  We were thrilled when we arrived by 3pm–a much shorter journey than expected!  When we got off the bus, instead of the usual cluster of people offering taxis and hotels, we were approached by just one man offering all of us a tuk tuk ride (an auto rickshaw used like taxis, instead of cars) into town for 20,000 kip each.  We had done our research before arriving in Laos and had read that the ride should really only be 10-15k each, so we and an Israeli couple we had met decided to pass and try to find something else.  20 meters away from the bus stop, another tuk tuk driver offered us a ride for 15k each so we decided to take that instead.

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We walked around the center city area looking for a cheap room and found one near the river for about $9/night.  It was literally a box with a really crappy bed in it and communal bathrooms down the hall, but it was the cheapest we could find, so we went for it.

We spent the rest of the evening wandering around Vientiane, checking out the modest night market and walking along the river.  Despite being the largest city in the country, it didn’t take long to realize that Laos was going to be much different than Vietnam.  The streets were really open and quiet despite being a Friday night, and our favorite part was that no one was hustling us to buy anything on the street.

We decided to call it a night pretty early since we had been traveling so long, and we were excited to get an early start to our exploration of Vientiane!