Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Laos: boat-riding on Mekong, hanging out with locals and more...

It has already been 2 weeks since I arrived to Laos, although my original plan was not to spend here more than 1... But the fact that it is such an enjoyable country and also that the big group of people that I was traveling through Laos with was so much fun made me stay twice as long as planned (and I would definitely stay much longer if I was not  running out of time). In fact by now I should have already been in Hanoi, Vietnam, but they didn't allow us to fly out yesterday because of mistake in our visa. So we need to rebook the flight and hopefully fly out tonight... But now back to Laos:

The beginning of our Laos journey was taking 2 day slow-boat ride on Mekong river from Huay-xai to Luang Prabang. It might sound boring to spend 2 full days on a boat, but due to the fact that we met there many nice and fun people made it wonderful experience. And the view of the landscapes of the untouched country around were not too bad as well ;)

Part of our party slow-boat crew :)

And our captain

Sunset view upon arrival to the village (I forgot the name) where we spent the night during the boat-ride

Waterfalls near Luang Prabang where we spent couple of days after the crazy boat-ride

The highlight of our stay in Luang Prabang was definitely a day when we took a ferry to the other side of Mekong river to see the small village. At first, we went to see a cave that was recommended to us - this is the entrance.. A local guy with keys walked us up the hill into the forest, opened the door and smiled on us. After the question if he is not coming with us he smiled some more and shook his head for 'no' :) 

The cave was pretty nice, not too much light and trails in there though - which made it real adventure wearing flip-flops.. And surprisingly our 'guide' was still there with open door when coming out, so no drama :)

When we were intending to go back to Luang Prabang, a noise from the village made us to check out what is happening there and we ended up at local celebration - we still don't know what they were celebrating as none of the locals was speaking english, but we spend there around 3 hours drinking, eating and dancing with them. Great experience, fun, lovely and generous (although not having too much) people..

We got to learn some local dance moves :)

With my 2 favorites :) the guy on the right could open a beer bottle with bear hands :)

Ella (our Swedish friend) with local girl

Ben picking up some fight with the locals..

Our boat captain on the way back :)

Local boys practicing for the dragon races

Beautiful view after a beautiful day

Next stop after Luang Prabang was Vang Vieng - party town in the middle of a picture-perfect landscapes. This was the view from the balcony of our hostel

Sunset on the river. Tubing (floating down the river on inflatable tube and stopping at various bars) is big attraction in Vang Vieng. We did it once and I must say that is drinking and drinking only. The ride as such is quite slow and short (they needed to shorten the ride and leave out some parts after few people dying in the past)

One day we did a short (7km) bike ride to the nearby Blue Lagoon to have some fun and cool down in the water.

And also to see the nearby huuuge caves. Really impressive.

The view from the bike on the way back

The last stop in Laos and also my current location is Vientiane - Laos capital city. The city as such is not very interesting but it is the capital - location of all the embassies. So most of the people come here to only get the visa (mainly for Vietnam) and leave... This is sunset view on Mekong from Vientiane - on the other side of the river is Thailand

While waiting for the visa we visited really interesting COPE museum, which deals with the problem of Laos being flooded with US bombs. I personally had no idea that Laos was the most heavily bombarded country in the world.. The truth is really sad - during the Vietnam war, it was not Vietnam, but Laos who suffered the most. US forces dropped here hundred millions of bombs (mainly cluster bombs containing little 'bombies' - see left of the picture) either to cut-off the supplies heading to Vietnam or simply dropping the redundant bombs in the North Laos countryside. Even Ben (US citizen and very interested in politics and wars) had no idea that such a massacre was happening in Laos - it was a 'secret' operation (I did not want to use a word war as the Laos side had no chance to defend or counter-attack) which was (and probably still is) hidden from the eyes of majority of the world. So and due to this sad fact, Laos is still full of (active) bombs with locals dying in accidents or simply by being not aware how to handle them...

As written above, I'm still in Vientiane, although I should have been in Hanoi already.. Hopefully today it will work out :) I had a really nice time in Laos, but it is time to move.. I'm flying home in 2 weeks and I still want to see some of Vietnam and Cambodia - it will be tough :))

No comments:

Post a Comment