Where has Brenna been?
Well a more appropriate question would be where hasn’t Brenna been.
And the answer to that is I have not been writing my blog. So apologies loyal blog readers because in fact I have a ton of things to write about.
It has been over two weeks since my first semester teaching has finished and there are many many things to catch you all up on but this post is about the most recent week in Lao!
More in Brenna returns to countries she’s already been to.
So after 3 days in Pai, AJ and I set off on the first leg of our trip. I was ecstatic when AJ said she wanted to backpack with Annie and I because she is the absolutely best and so chill about plans and I love her. Annie wasn’t with us at this point because she didn’t wanna do the slow boat and opted instead to fly and meet us in Laos.
So much information.
So the shitty part about going to the border from Pai is that you basically have to back track and go back to Chiang Mai on the Pai van from hell. And then head back up to Chang Khong which is the border city to Lao.
So that was an enjoyable 8 hour bus ride.
We get to Chang Khong at like 9pm and AJ and I end up sharing a room with this Irish guy Rory who is very talkative. Solo backpackers tend to be. And we feel like shit because of the drive, the shitty dinner at a stop off point, and the hefty amount of Dramamine that I had taken in the hopes of suppressing the nausea from the van ride.
(Let me like paint a picture for you too. Cause these are like shuttle van sort of situations. There are 12 seats and everyone has like two backpacks so we are full to the brim with humans and bags and the we are speeding around corners. And the Thai drivers are mad and they pass other cars on blind corners and I swear I consistently feel like I’m going to die. Oh yeah and I’m almost positive our driver to Chang Khong was drunk. Jesus)
We wake up early to start the crossing the border process. Which amazingly went off without a hitch. We exchanged money, took photos, and I got my first new visa in my new passport. This baby is fillin up quick.
There’s like a large crew of foreigners all doing this together too. So it’s a bit of comeradery and we all get back on a van on the Lao side (where they drive on the right side of the road I might add!!) and head to the slow boat!
I had sold the idea to AJ and we were psyched to spend two days sitting and doing basically nothing. And that’s what we did.
I taught AJ how to do a Rubix cube. I didn’t even read. I barely listened to music. We just chatted and enjoyed what could possibly be one of my favorite bodies of water: the Mekong river.
And after another long day on the boat (we may have been getting a wee bit stir crazy for about the last 2 hours) we arrived in Luang Prabang!
Luang Prabang has kind of bougie restaurants along the main road so we splurged a bit and I got myself a nice salad. And who knew but Luang Prabang I guess has a lot of baked goods? So I got a lemon tart for dessert! In Lao! What are the chances?
I learned from this short Lao history book I downloaded that they used to be owned by the French so maybe that’s where the bakery thing comes in. How appropriate considering my baking loves.
The eventfulness of that night ended there. We got some much deserved rest (sitting on a boat really takes it out of you) and we woke up early in the morning because the waterfall waits for no one!
Basically the most amazing thing to do in Luang Prabang (and let’s be honest one of the most amazing things to do ever) is to go see the Kuang Si waterfall. We overpaid for a tuk tuk and over paid for admission but you couldn’t over pay for how beautiful this waterfall was.
We couldn’t stop taking pictures.
It was just like my memories of it 3 years ago! And of course we went swimming. It has all these levels and you keep going up and up like “oh this must be the most beautiful part” and then it keeps getting better.
And of course we hiked all the way up to the tip top where there is a lazy, shady area and I could have stayed there all day.
We watched a beautiful sunset over the river, ate at a tapas bar, and got the Lao version of khao soy. Could you invent a more perfect day? (Maybe if it was thai khao soy)
I don’t think we are doing this “roughing it” thing properly.
That night I also ran into some guy at our hostel with a ukulele and we had a bomb ukulele jam. I am not shabby at that instrument honestly but this guy was way better. He played bohemian raphsody!!
The next morning it was time to get into another van and leave this beautiful city for another beautiful city (and the first one of the backpacking that I hadn’t been to before–about time)
And where Luang Prabang was full of nice restaurants and bakeries and older couples vacationing…Vang Vieng was the polar opposite. It felt like spring break in Mexico.
After a treacherous van ride around these sheer cliffs we arrived pretty late but we had to go do something because it was AJs birthday!!!
So we settled for some drinks at an Irish pub. In Lao, can you believe it? And then we ate dinner at a cafe that was playing Friends. (The television show) Because apparently that’s a thing here.
We woke up and rented some motorbikes so we could head to a cave. And we took one turn too early and ended up off-roading. And crossing the worlds sketchiest bridge. And then the cave was so scary.
Annie wouldn’t adventure in, but AJ persuaded me to go further. And this cave was populated by huge ass spiders. I didn’t take a picture or anything because I was not gonna hang in their vacinity any longer than I had to.
After that we decided to try to find the blue lagoon. And after another wrong turn (what is our deal today?) we ended up at the right blue lagoon.
Which was basically a watering hole-turned water park.
We get there expecting a serene blue lagoon and instead there are like people rolling around in balls on the water. There’s a rope swing and these branches set up for jumping. And there are a bunch of Chinese tourists bobbing around in life jackets. And it’s kind of a spectacle. The swimming entertained us for about 30 minutes and then we just sat around in the sun.
After dinner we ran into a group at our hostel getting ready for the apparently infamous jungle party. And I’m all down, but Annie is not. Though I do manage to convince AJ to go to. And it turns out to not be in the jungle and also not really a party cause the music was bad. But you never know until you try.
The next morning was a bit of tragedy cause AJ wasn’t feeling well after the evenings antics and on top of that she couldn’t find her glasses. And today was the day we were meant to go tubing and she wasn’t feeling like going. But like the fucking champ she is, after a bit of cojooling she decided that going tubing mightake her feel better.
And this activity rocked!
Basically you rent these big inner tubes and they bus you to the river. And you get on the tube and float about 30 feet before people at a bar on the side of the river come and pull you in. And the bars are just a bunch of young backpackers playing drinking games.
And there’s only like two bars. But there used to be like dozens but then people died getting super drunk and falling into the river and stuff.
Which I totally understand.
Because none of us were really drinking and thank god for that because the last bit of the river after we finished with the bars was insane. There were rapids and boats going like super close to us. And they had these rickety propellers and I swear they were so close to chopping my limbs off.
Okay slight exaggerations.
Best moment of the day: was that we were tubing with some new friends including this British guy named Kavi. And at one point in the river we reach a stand still and Kavi goes “oh I bet I can stand” he pushes off the tube and just sinks like a rock. Until all you can see is his hand with his beer above the water. Thank god he saved the beer.
It was super fun but after doing this tubing all day we were beat. And got some food and turned in early. Vang Vieng may be a party city but we know when to take it easy.
The next day we said goodbye to all our new friends and hopped on a van to Vientiane because our next destination is Vietnam!!
Sorry this post is not super rack with fun details but I’m way behind! I’m gonna have to start catching you up on Vietnam soon!!