Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Luang Prabang

February 10 – Woke up and saw Robbie and James, our English friends who’d arrived earlier the day before.  After breakfast we all piled into minivans again where we were taken to the Lao boarder.  Had a very frustrating and hilarious encounter with a group of Chinese tourists who apparently do not respect the sanctity of a line. After we got our Lao visas ($35), we all boarded buses that took us to the Mekong where we would board the slowboat.  Had an amazing first day with everyone on the boat drinking Lao Lao beer and singing along with the guitar songs some of the guys were playing.  Around dinner we arrived in Pakbeng where we got off the boat and walked around town to find a place for the night.  Ended up at a guest house where Sam, Jeremy and I split a queen bed and James and Robbie slept on mattresses on the floor.
February 11 – After a little confusion with the slowboat situation, our little crew found some space on the back of one of the boats where we all sat on the floor.  Another amazing day drinking and playing cards, I honestly was a little sad to see the day end.  Got a taxi with everyone into town and checked in to our hostel, Central Backpackers.  Went out to dinner with Sam, Jeremy, Robbie and James and then went to Utopia, the main tourist bar in Luang Prabang, for a drink.

February 12 – Went to the Kuang Si Waterfall around 2pm and had such an amazing time there with all my new friends in this incredible place.  There are so many different levels of waterfalls and pools and the water was menthol blue it really was amazing to see.  

When we got back into town we went to Lao Lao Garden for dinner, Utopia for a drink and then to the bowling alley to continue the night as everything else in Luang Prabang closes at 11:30pm.  Everything was great until we were driving home and had the taxi driver take us to get some food before heading back to the hostel.  He dropped us at a sandwich stand and everyone was getting food, and then he started getting a little pushy about getting us back, so some of us got back in the taxi and all of sudden Mike, one of the Candian guys in our group and the driver started yelling at eachother and everything escalated rather quickly when the driver pulled out a knife and was threatening to stab him.  A friend pulled Mike away and we all quickly paid and walked the rest of the way home.  We were all just glad nothing bad ended up happening.
February 13 – Sam signed up for a design class for the day, so I spent most of the morning walking around town.  Bumped into Pia, a Chilean girl in our group, and sat down for a coffee with her.  Stopped into Ock Pop Top and bought a blue silk scarf (230,000 kip/$30), took a nap and headed out with a few friends to get dinner in town.  One of the famous Luang Prabang dinners is the 10,000kip buffet, which comes out to a little over a dollar to fill up your plate with all kinds of vegetables and carbs.  10,000kip more for meat and a seat at the tables.  Went to Utopia again for a drink after dinner.
February 14 – Went for a run along the river in the morning and ended up stopping into a local travel agent who booked Sam and me plane tickets to Siem Reap on the 16th.  Ran back, had breakfast, showered and went to sleep.  The whole crew went to the waterfalls again and while it was definitely my favorite place in Luang Prabang, I just wasn’t feeling up to going and I’ve learned that its really not a good idea to push my body here.  Went out for a Valentine’s dinner with Sam and Pia at Tamarind, a restaurant recommended in the Lonely Planet book.  Highlights: pumpkin, coconut & ginger soup and the purple sticky rice dessert.
February 15 – Went a bit out of town in the morning to the Ock Top Pop factory to see how all the scarves are made, came back to the hostel to nap, I had the buffet dinner again mainly for the squash and other veggies that were surprisingly well cooked, and Tamarind again so Sam and Pia could have the soup.

February 16 – In the morning we did a little shopping at market where Sam and I both bought fabric that had been used in traditional Lao costumes.  Got a sandwich to go and rushed back to the hostel to catch our tuktuk to the airport with Pia.  Got into Siem Reap and after some initial taxi confusion, finally made it to our hostel for the night - Downtown Siem Reap Hostel ($8).  Met up with Gabe and took a quick walk through town to get some dinner.

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