Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thailand and Laos - Part 2

Continued from Part-1

We left the city the next morning to go to Vang Vieng. It was a 3hrs ride in a tempo traveller to the party town of Laos. In India tempo travelers have 2+1 seat layout and these had an extra foldable seat in the path in between to add another person.  We checked into the hostel at around 1:30pm and left for tubing. Tubing is like the lazy river in the water park except that the river is not that lazy and you have different start and end points. You rent a tube and get into the river. The flowing river takes you through the scenic mountains and greenery. After going some distance some guy from the shore throws a rope at you and pulls you to the river bank. This is where the party happens. Singing, dancing, football, basketball and lot more activities. Not to forget beer and food if that is what you are there for. There are 3 such places on the tubing route. While people get souvenirs from their trip, our friend Vikram has an art of losing things. He donated his spectacles to the river during tubing. We came back at around 8pm and freshened up. There are 3 pubs/disco in this town and you can do pub hopping if you are interested. Here we met a guy from Brazil who had come alone on the trip. He was one of the very few guys who was on a short trip. Yes, 9days is a short trip by backpacking standards. Everyone else we met on the trip had plans of 3-6 months covering at least 4 countries. 

 By the way before I forget, the beer lao is the most famous beer here, so make sure you taste it. There is also a Lao whiskey which is usually served in a little bucket. As mentioned by Penny in the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory (S08E05), the bucket is so that once you finish drinking you can vomit in the same bucket. (Yuck! but you should see how wasted the people are in Vang Vieng).

The next morning we were supposed to go to the nearby caves but we were so tired from tubing that we couldn't wake up. We were on a fixed schedule (one of the major mistakes we did in planning) and had to leave that afternoon. Since we had the morning to spend, we walked around the city. The walk around the city was around 3kms and we were searching for an optical shop to get Vikram a pair of spectacles. Can you believe that in the entire country of Laos there are only about 4 optical shops and this city had none of them. After a bit of help from Google we got to know that the next city that we were visiting had an optical shop (phew, Vikram was acting like Javed Jaffrey in the movie ‘Singh is King’). In the afternoon, we left to Luang Prabang, the only other big city in Laos. The 6 hour journey was scenic. 

Our companions during this journey were 2 guys from Israel, 2 girls from Australia and a couple from China. We discussed the technological advancement of Israel and also touched upon a bit on the Gaza conflict. The guy from China told us that he has tried to visit India but his visa was rejected. He knew about our new PM Modi and told us that the relations between the two countries would now be better (Not sure if a Chinese guy praising an Indian PM was a good thing or bad). We reached our hostel at night and this time we were in a bigger dorm. We were tired but these Israeli guys wanted to go out, so we joined them and went on a walk around the city. Israeli people are like the marwadi’s in India. They do not shell out money unless they really need something and they do not buy anything that they cannot bargain. They did save us around 15,000 kips each the next day when we took a tuktuk to the waterfalls.  It was around 10:30pm  and all the places were closing down (It reminded me of Bangalore). We came back to our dorm at around midnight and called it a day.  
We spent the morning searching for the lost vision (Remember Vikram lost his specs during tubing) and finally got him his spectacles for 2,00,000 kips ( :O ).  The next morning we head out to the Kwangsi Waterfalls. We spent an hour playing in the water. There was a large chinese family playing in water and even the women were playing in water (In India women mostly guard clothes, but yeah, now times are changing). There was a tree over the water falls from which we took a jump into the water (Cannot post the video as it was not a pretty jump and cannot post the picture, well same reason :P).

We came back to the dorm and in the evening visited the Mount Phousi. Mount Phousi is located at the center of the city and is the sunrise and sunset point in Luang Prabang. From this place, you get an aerial view of the city, mekong river and the mountains.

We then visited the night market. There is this concept of lucky number. If you are the first customer to any shop in the night market then they ask you for your lucky number and give one product at that price. We bought souvenirs and tshirts and headed back to our dorm. It was day 5 of our trip and it was time to go over the budget again. We emptied our pockets and realized we might run out of cash soon. We decided to cut down on unnecessary expenses and stay in the room that night. But then we ended up going to  Utopia Bar, the only Bar in the city (How sad is that, right?). And why did we go there, we met Lea, one of our roommate from Germany (One minute we were deciding not to spend money and the next hour we are at a bar. Girls right!). We also met Anand, an Indian from Canada. We spoke a lot about Indian culture and tourist destinations in India. Just like in Bangalore, that place closed down at 11pm. There is a bowling place that is in the outskirts of the city which is open all night, but we decided to skip it (We were the most boring people there by backpackers standard). 

Click here to read Part-3