Laos

2 01 2013

The bus to Laos leaves Dien Bien Phu early in the morning. This isn’t a problem because one might want to leave Dien Bien Phu as soon as possible. The accomodation around the bus station is cheap but so is the quality. It could be hard to find a bed which one would like to use without ones own sleeping bag… I shared a room with a French guy and a Dutch girl and only the French decided to explore the „sights“ of the city the next day. At 5.30AM a small bus leaves for the Laotian border. The process at the border was straight forward, easier than I expected. But I was a little bit afraid that I might have some problems to get into Laos because I had a fever raising and I knew they would take my temperature. Fortunately my temperature seemed to be fine at the time we crossed the border 🙂 The bus continues to Mueang Kaoh some 100km from the border. It’s a small town but busy with many shops and restaurants. Almost all of our bus chose to take a room in a cheap guest house across the river. To get there we had to cross a long bridge with amazing views of the river. The guest house is also next to the river with a nice terrace to have an evening beer or two. I ended up spending almost all of my time sleeping because of high fever.

Muaeng Kaoh - Laotian border town

Muaeng Kaoh – Laotian border town

The next day we continued our journey to Luang Prabang, this time by boat. I must admit that it wasn’t the smartest idea considering my constitution. Sitting in the first row of this thin and long boat wasn’t brilliant, either… there are some rapids along the river and the first two rows (and a few backpacks) ended up soaking wet. After 5 horrible cold hours on the river (I’m sure it wasn’t that horrible for the rest of the passengers) we finally arrived in a small village, some 120km from Luang Prabang, where we had to switch from the boat to a mini van that brought us in 3 more hours to our destination.

Some temple in Luang Prabangs old center.

Some temple in Luang Prabangs old center.

The first thing that I noticed the next day was that there were only two types of cars in the proximity of the city center: old motorcycle rickshaws and brand new Hilux pick-up trucks… Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage because of its old centre with many temples and pagodas and that seemed to have filled the pockets of a few (or many) fortunate ones. I was really suprised to see so many brand new cars that hardly anyone can afford in Europe, especially considering that Laos is amongst the 20 poorest countries in the world! But even if you catch one of the rickshaws one notices that something is different… no matter how far you go, only a few hunderts of meters or a couple of kilometers, the price varies only slightly and starts (for Asian standards) exorbitantly high! Worst of all: haggling with Luang Prabang’s rickshaw drivers is impossible! It even doesn’t matter if you go alone or share the rickshaw with others… When we arrived all of our bus wanted to go to the same area and one rickshaw was taking two of us for 10000 Kip each… the other one was packed with 7 passengers, but still the price was 10000 Kip each!

Kuang Si waterfall.

Kuang Si waterfall.

The next days I tried to force myself out of the bed to do some sightseeing. But most of the time I ended up in bed after 1 or 2 hours because I felt too weak. One day I went on a day trip to the Kuang Si waterfalls. It’s a really nice park with a picturesque scenery and refreshingly cold water for a swim! Share a rickshaw with some others and you might get there for 60000 Kip per person including the admission fee. Again, it doesn’t matter how many you are… just more than one or two so one doesn’t need to cram the rickshaw with too many people!

Kuang Si waterfall.

Kuang Si waterfall.

During my time in Luang Prabang I tried to figure out if there’s a hospital or a private clinic of acceptable standard. The fever was already gone but now I had horrible pain in my muscles and bones. The guide book says one should fly to Thailand for anything worse than a scratch and when I asked at the tourist information I got almost the same answer. So I took their advices and flew to Chiang Mai in Thailand the next day! A very short stay in a country that seemed nice and relaxed with many more things to see and do!

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