We spend our first night at Daauw Home, a nonprofit supporting a local women’s group. They had no rooms available, so we slept in a tent tucked sort of behind and underneath one of the bungalows. Laos! The next morning, we wake up early and head down to the riverbank, buy tickets, and hop on a slow boat, ready to go. Three hours later, off we go! Laos!
Oh my goodness, let me tell you about our slow boat ride down the Mekong River. This boat is packed with 70-100 people, mostly sitting on wooden benches or what seem to be seats from minivans, neither of which are actually attached to anything. Some sit on the roof or the floor. We nab a seat and spend a lot of time reading, gazing at the scenery, and. . .
Happy Chanukkah, J!! Behold, the Pineapple! First on the docket, twinkle twinkle, the pink panther theme song, all of me, and 5 years time. Feliz Navidad proved a bit difficult. . .
After the two most pleasant days of travelling I’ve ever experienced, we arrive in Luang Prabang. The entire city is a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and is packed with pleasant tree-lined alleyways, red and gold temples, and French-style architecture.
It’s also the home of the Hmong night market, which provided us with a grand opportunity for Christmas shopping, as well as brushing up on our haggling skills.
We visit some temples, walk some streets, and chat with some monks. We also befriend some other travellers and, after so much time as a duo, we discover the joys of group travelling – instant volleyball teams and group rates! We rent out a minibus and head south for Christmas in Vang Vieng!
We spend the next four days cavorting in the majestic landscape and being far more active than we’re used to. Fist off, renting bikes! They are the shittiest bikes I’ve ever ridden, but off we go 7km to Tham Phou Kham!
Phou Kham Cave. Followed by a dip in the Blue Lagoon, which featured some jumping off of trees with locals in jeans. And then, the real reason we’re all in Vang Vieng, Rock Climbing!!!
We rent some gear, hop a tuk-tuk, and are ferried across the river by an elderly gentleman who later shows us a path through the jungle to get to the wall. We find a cool fissure in the rocks, which turns into a cooler fissure with bolts, which becomes a pitch-dark tunnel a meter tall, which opens into. . . BAM! Secret Canyon, the coolest climbing site ever. SO Secret. The group is mixed levels, but we work our way through a series of 5s and 6s and have a phenomenal day.