Luang Prabang – a nice place to chill

The way to Luang Prabang was already an adventure. We were squeezed into a minivan that was full to the top. I didn´t have any space for my legs at all. After about two hours driving on that horribly windy road in the foggy mountains we had to stop suddenly since a truck was standing across the street, nobody could pass. We all got out and had a look.

I already thought we would stand there for a couple of hours now. They solved it rather quickly though. After half an hour the truck stood in the right direction again and could drive on. But we were happy too early, after a few hundred meters we were standing again. A landslide was blocking the road. It took us about one hour to pass that bit; you could only see a few meters with all the fog. Once we passed that and got out of the mountains and thus the really dense fog, it went quite well and at about 3:30 pm we finally arrived in Luang Prabang.

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first time I saw Pringles in a bag

At the bus station we squeezed all together into a TukTuk and drove the last bit to the city center for another 10000 Kip each. From there I had to walk about 1 km to the Chill Riverside Hostel. After checking into my 6 bed dorm I walked around a bit, got water, cash, had some great and cheap food at the Bamboo Restaurant.

It was super cold and I didn´t really feel like walking around outside. The only common area of the hostel is also outside so I sat in my bed with the blanket over me and worked on my blog for a while and got some organizational stuff done. Later I walked with 3 Spanish people to a restaurant on the other side of the river. We had to cross a bamboo bridge. This bridge is built new every year since it only stays in the dry season. When the rainy season starts the bridge is washed away. It is built by a local family and to support them you have to pay 5000 Kip for crossing (return).

The restaurant was not my price class so I walked back alone and went to the night market. The night market in Luang Prabang is great! Cheap and very tasty food.

The next morning I also mainly spend in bed due to the cold, but at 11:30 I went for a trip to the That Kuang Si – a beautiful waterfall. In the hostel you could book a van for 40000 Kip which brought you there, waited and drove you back. The entry to the falls is another 20000 Kip. I met a German couple in the van and walked around with them. They have a bear sanctuary there as well. They rescued those bears from people who capture them to get the liquid out of the gall bladder. Those poor animals are kept in way too small cages, hardly get any food and water and get a long dirty syringe rammed into their bellies every few days. If they are unlucky they survive this ordeal for as long as 10 years. The bears in the sanctuary have a lot of space, proper food and water and lead quite a happy life.

After that you reach the first pools of the waterfall, followed by the actual fall. It is just beautiful. Unfortunately it was too cold to go for a swim.

You can also walk up to the top of the falls.

About 4 pm we were back to Luang Prabang. They kicked us out of the van close to the night market, so I got some Coconut pancakes and a very nice vegetable noodle soup. On my way back to the hostel I drank a coconut. Got some administrative stuff done and went to Utopia. This is a very nice bar with great (but expensive) food and drinks, very chill and relaxed. They often have life music or DJs.

When they changed the music to a style I can´t stand, I went back to the hostel and watched a movie. The next day I walked around

and did some window shopping for tours.I visited the That Phu Si with a nice view and all the Buddhas there,

then went again to Bamboo Restaurant for lunch. After lunch I got a massage at the Red Cross (1h, 50000 Kip). They use the money they earn there for a good cause. After organizing my bus to Luang Namtha on Friday I went to Utopia again and enjoyed the first warm and sunny day there, reading and working on my blog. When the sun set it got quite cold again and I went back to the hostel. I met a Swiss girl with whom I was in contact via FB for a while already exchanging travel tips and stuff. She did basically the same SEA route as me, just the other way round. We traded SIM cards and some local cash from different countries and went to the night market together for dinner. When I picked up my laundry I realized that 2 things were missing. Eleanor had warned me that this happens quite often here, so I had checked rather carefully. I had a look in other laundry bags and found my stuff. So all good! The next day I spent the morning securing pictures, then organized some US dollars since I would need them to get into Laos. After lunch I went to the Utopia again and in the evening I went to the Mekong for sunset. I went to a point that was called “Mekong sunset view” on MapsMe. I had to cross the other bamboo bridge to get there. That one has the same fate as the other one, is a lot less stable though and costs 10000 Kip to cross. It was a beautiful sunset.

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I passed a Swiss bakery – the Zurich Bread Factory & Café – on the way back and just couldn´t resist the temptation.

I would have loved to get some proper bread, but they only had huge loafs and I was about to travel the next day followed by two days trekking, so I didn´t get any. But I got some pastries and due to the late hour I got 1 for 2. They were very yummy!!! I also passed a nice temple and car.

The next morning I got picked up by TukTuk at 7:30 am to the bus stop in Luang Prabang.

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elephants at the bus stop

We had to wait another hour there. We were 7 tourists, 2 locals and the driver plus all the luggage, so already quite full. The driver stopped every few minutes though to pick up or let out other locals and /or parcels and other goods although we didn´t have space. He definitely wanted to make some extra money. We got quite mad because we didn´t get forward and were squeezed in there like sardines although we paid a higher price for a private minivan not a public bus. He also never let us out or stopped for toilet or something. I told him several times, that I need to pee, he didn´t care. At one point it got so urgent, that I just screamed that I will piss in his fucking van if he doesn´t stop immediately. He stopped somewhere with not a single tree to hide after he had passed several toilet opportunities. What an asshole! Everybody went for a pee anyway. At 4:30 pm we finally arrived in Luang Namtha. That was the worst ride so far in Laos!

I really liked Luang Prabang, although I didn´t do too much. The night market was amazing, the people were finally friendly and it has a very chill and relaxed atmosphere. It was the first place I liked in Laos, so I had hope that Laos was nice after all. And it was.

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