He says, she says – Laos

3 March – 20 March 16 days

Places visited: Pakse, Don Det – 4000 islands, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang

Most favourite place:
Charlie: This took me a lot of thought but i think Don Det, but a close second being Vang Vieng. Don Det won because of its amazing waterfalls and the natural aspects. Vang Vieng is also amazing with its monstrous mountains and the sleepy rivers running through them.
Lisa: Don Det was a really interesting place for me. On arrival I was really confused at why people visited for long (some people stay weeks there) but once you got used to the really laid by vibe and explored the surrounding areas it was a really great place to spend your time.

Least favourite place:
Charlie: We passed through Pakse for one night and didn’t really get a chance to see if and judge it too well, but having said that, it seemed a bit characterless to me.
Lisa: Pakse was pretty unimpressive but we only spent one night there between crossing the Thai border and getting to Don Det, if I had to pick another place then I would say Luang Prabang. Whilst the town is quite a lot nicer than the others, I felt it was also the most developed and there wasn’t as much to do or see there. Don Det and Vang Vieng had the most beautiful scenery around them that I didn’t feel Luang Prabang could compete with.

Most favourite dish:
Charlie: The crispy pork! I discovered it too late and only managed to have it a couple of times though. I had something similar in Thailand, so maybe its not a great answer but i still miss that stuff!
Lisa: The Luang Prabang sausage was my favourite, although I only had it once. It’s filled with loads of herbs and the one we tried came with a really nice homemade eggplant chutney.

Best experience:
Charlie: We did so many cool things that this is hard to pick just one! I think the sunset bar in Don Det was awesome, jumping into the river from a high drop. We met the cutest little girl there too, who we spent a sunset with too which was so fun!
Lisa: I really enjoyed floating around the Mekong in Vang Vieng, especially at the Smile Bar where they had tied up tubes so you could get a drink and float there without moving whilst the sun set.

Worst experience:
Charlie: I think the night bus was probably the worst. The length of the bed meant we both had to sleep on a 5 ft single bed in a cramped spooning position. i need space to sleep so this meant i didn’t get much shut eye. Lisa of course managed to doze off well before me, but even she struggled!
Lisa: Our journey from Don Det to Vang Vieng which took a long 28 hours. Not only was in uncomfortable, we had a lot of waiting around, being messed about a little and were 4 hours late.

Something you will miss:
Charlie: The natural beauty of the country. Even with it being the dry season, we got to see some awesome natural landmarks. Waterfalls and dolphins in 4000 Island, towering mountains and cliffs in Vang Vieng, and swimming in the Mekong in all the places as it stretches the length of the country!
Lisa: The landscapes in Laos were beautiful, especially the Mekong and the mountains as they provided amazing sunsets.

Something you won’t miss:
Charlie: We’ve noticed it a lot on the second half of the trip. When you take the buses, they seem to drive you right through town, often past your hotel and back out the other side of town. Funnily enough theres a crowd of Tuk Tuks waiting for you in this random car park, charging huge amounts (in relative terms) for you to be taken back into town. It always frustrates me!
Lisa: Nothing seems to run on time in Laos. It’s a very sleepy place that seems to run on its own time which can be annoying when getting between places as you are always told the journey will be much shorter than it actually is.

Relaxing and recovering in Luang Prabang

We woke up early for our bus to Luang Prabang and unfortunately I was still feeling like I was getting sick. The journey was comfortable enough and the bus even stopped for us to take photos of nice views. We arrived and went to a cafe with Mike and Becki for lunch and to use the wifi to find somewhere to stay. The accommodation in Luang Prabang was quite expensive but we all found a place we liked and headed there. When we got there the receptionist said they only had one room and because Mike and Becki had already paid for theres we said they should take it. Charlie and I put our bags back on and went walking around town to find something else. We came across this nice little place on the main street which was cheap enough and looked pretty nice. We took our bags off and got showered before heading out for dinner near the night market. When we got back to our room there was about 10 mosquitos in the room which we thought was weird as we didn’t have any windows for them to come through. After going around the room killing them all we chilled out and fell asleep.

The next day I woke up feeling really rough, the sick feeling I had felt the past few days had turned into a really good head cold. We had to go to the Vietnamese Embassy to apply for a visa so we headed there dropped off our passports, filled out a quick form and were told to come back in 48 hours to collect them, it was so easy! Afterwards we went out for some food and I decided to just rest for the day. We went back to the room where I could have a nap and hopefully feel better. In the afternoon we headed out again for a drink and dinner and organised to meet up with Mike and Becki the next day to visit some waterfalls.

We woke up to meet Mike and Becki for breakfast before setting off to the waterfalls. We arranged a tuk tuk for the day to take us to two waterfalls. We arrived at Kuang Si Waterfall after almost an hours drive. At the start of the waterfall they have a bear rescue centre where you can see moon and sun bears playing in an enclosure. The conditions of the enclosure were quite good but we didn’t really know where the bears had been rescued from. They seemed happy enough though.17159085_10154244967111176_8408138891496691608_oWe continued onto the waterfall which was beautiful. The water was really blue and there were lots of different levels. 17310173_10154256279536176_5572227412756317921_oThere was also lots of colourful butterflies everywhere which Charlie managed to get some photos of. 17359335_10154244967451176_7263823448935281189_oLots of people were enjoying a swim in the lagoons but it did get quite crowded quickly as more and more tour groups showed up, because of this we decided to leave and head to the next waterfall so we could have a swim there. The journey was another long one and when we got dropped off our driver explained we had to pay to get a boat to take us across the river to where the waterfall is. We all paid for a boat and headed down the river to where you can walk up to the waterfall. Once we arrived there were some other tourists at the entrance who told us not to bother as there was no water. So we had paid to get to a dry waterfall… a common trend for Charlie and I lately. We decided not to pay the entry fee and head back to town. Charlie and I enjoyed killing another 20 mosquitos when we got in, got showered and met Mike and Becki at a restaurant for dinner. It was there last night in Luang Prabang and the last night we would have with them. We had a nice dinner before saying our goodbyes, we had really enjoyed travelling with them over the past 2 weeks.

Charlie and I spent the rest of our time relaxing in Luang Prabang. We checked into a much nicer hotel with no mosquitos and good wifi. We explored the night market both the handicrafts and the food. We went to a food stall where you got an empty bowl for £1.50 and could fill it with all the food they had cooked but it was really disappointing… Not only was everything cold but it was pretty flavourless. I still wasn’t feeling great and this cold was really hard to shake so our days were very slow and I spent a lot of time editing video footage for our Laos video. We enjoyed our time in Luang Prabang but feel like we preferred Don Det and Vang Vieng much more. We did get some more nice sunsets there though!17493093_10154263640841176_3916633799665562109_o17310216_10154263640966176_1456408677356127078_oNext stop – Vietnam!