Our next journey was another humdinger, this time from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang – just to hear it, the journey sounds quite musical. I must admit to once again being very impressed by Laos’ countryside, it was a most beautiful drive. I had not noticed the beauty in quite this much detail before but the fact that our driver was going along at a most un-Asian-like speed of ‘reasonably fast’, possibly he was being slowed somewhat by the appalling state of Laos’ roads, I just didn’t care. It was really nice travelling and yet still being able to see everything outside the window not flying by as a blur, it even stopped my nervous habit of gripping the armrests of the seat like an eagle with something it did not want to lose in its talons … lol! The drive was so nice I even tried to take a few photos, which is normally a disastrous affair from a flying bus but I felt inspired to give it a go. Everything was just so very green from the trees on the mountain sides to the lush paddy fields and every now and again we would come across little nibblers, kids who were just being kids really messing around and playing and it all combined to make you appreciate just how wonderful the simplest things can be.
We had a couple of stops along the way one in the mountains where to be fair we got a bit ripped off but these were poor people with rich scenery so who cares. Some of the places we drove through were not much better than shanty towns that seemed to be built on and from mud and even the kids that looked to be made of mud such was the state of their clothes, they did not seem to care they were playing and sometimes playing is all that matters.
We soon enough though reached Luang Prabang which we instantly liked the look of. Even better though was that our hotel was a little beauty and only just off the main drag and even our room was lovely, quite sizeable with white linen bedding and dark wood furniture, fixtures and fittings – oh we would be very happy here indeed. After making ourselves at home and giving ourselves a bit of time to recover after the bus journey we went out and about to see a bit more of the lovely Luang Prabang.
First off just round the corner from the hotel was the night market. The Sun was only just setting so the market was just getting started and the stalls were still being set up. There were lots of clothing and arts and crafts stalls so we simply meandered through taking it all in. The vibe of the place was as good as we hoped it would be, the buildings were just so very wooden and most everyone we passed seemed to just be enjoying the place pretty much just as we were, a right smilothon going on.
We reached the river and across it on the other side was a restaurant which we had to use the restaurant’s canoe to take us over to. Once there we lay back on, as you do here, and had a top steamboat/BBQ type thing between us which was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Sitting on huge cushions on the floor at the low table eating away as evening turned into night. We now even have enough experience in steamboat eating not to cover ourselves in the hot stock too, so more yummy yummy and less third degree burns. By the time we had finished we were nicely achoholically lubricated and as we walked from the eatery it was pitch black and these two things in combination could have been why the river journey back seemed far more hazardous than the way out had been. It was nothing that a couple of salty seadogs like me and Liz could not handle though we did have a couple of whoops, hollers and screams along the way.
On the way back the night market had really kicked in and the sights and colours and just whole vibe had really increased tenfold you could buy anything there. It seemed to the uninitiated (i.e. Me!) that the market was definitely thee right place to grab a bargain BUT lo and behold, my wife could not find a nice dress or top anywhere … lol!