Finally we managed to get out of Vang Vieng. That place just sucks you in and days fly by without you even realising. Just 2 days before our Laos visa ran out we arranged for a bus to Luang Prabang. The transfer arrived and drove us the 2 minutes across to where our bus was waiting on the old airstrip. Two rather budget conscious Israelis rocked up 10 mins before departure and managed to bargain down their ticket price a couple of bucks while delaying the rest of us.
Finally, we got going and soon past Kasi the scenery and winding roads really kicked in. The road zigzagged up and down through mountain range after mountain range. Clouds often hung in valleys and draped like cloth across peaks. The spectacular landscape still did not help the numbing pain in my bum. As we were in the seats at the very back of the bus we felt every little bump and bounce on the road.
We stopped en route and I happily escaped to stretch my legs. I soon realised that the wheel on the bus needed replacing. With only an hours delay and new wheel in place, we drove on again towards Luang Prabang. We stopped once more at the side of the road for a toilet break. However, with no facilities in sight, I crossed my legs for the duration.
7 1/2 hours after leaving Vang Vieng we arrived in Luang Prabang with a full bladder and sore bum. Touts tried to push there business on arrival in the bus station but being Lao they were gentle and polite. So we hopped in one of the Tuk Tuk’s and for a dollar per person arrived at Muong Lao Guesthouse. Located across from Visoun Temple. Friendly helpful staff showed us to our cosy en-suite a/c room with balcony for $12.
20 minutes before the travel agent closed we managed to book 2 seats for the next day to Chiang Mai costing $85USD plus a $10 departure tax to be paid at the airport. So the next mission was to find a bank that was still open so we could pay the tax. On the Sisavang Rd. beside Nisha’s Indian Restaurant there is a bank that for a 3% charge made a cash advance for us. There was also an ATM outside that accepts Mastercard and Maestro but they charge $4.50 per transaction and you can only withdraw a maximum of 70,000 kip ($70USD) at a time.
Starving we went for a pizza at the popular “Pizza Luang Prabang”. Eating outside we soaked up the atmosphere of this world heritage town. It has a strong colonial influence which is evident in the architecture but this is also mixed in with a traditional Lao style. Coming from Vang Vieng it was refreshing to see a lack of neon signs which have been replaced by aesthetically pleasing wooden ones. Knowing that we would return to this beautiful town I didn’t feel guilty for replacing the heritage sights for a large slice and a beer Lao. Next time we can do the cultural stuff, this time it was back to the guesthouse for a much-needed rest.