Our travels in the world’s most relaxing country continue. And don’t worry, this blog doesn’t include as much sleeping as Luang Prabang!
Our bus to Vang Vieng was a lot more traumatic than expected. The world’s moodiest minivan driver powered on and was very stubborn when we made one loo stop and one lunch stop (which he said was 30 minutes but called us all back after 15 so Ammun didn’t get to finish her noodles). He also drove so badly that I got really travel sick. I don’t normally get travel sickness but I had a bag at the ready this time! Okay, so he wasn’t the only reason it was awful. I also managed to make the whole van hate me. I was sat near the front and could see a little dial with a fan symbol on it and ‘high’, ‘low’ and ‘off’ so I put that on high as well as the air con but after a few hours of dying we found out that I’d put the heating on!! My feet were off the floor but everyone complained that their feet were burning. Oops!
When we arrived, I went straight on a mission to find a new battery for my camera but alas, karma is a bitch and it turns out that my whole camera had fried the same way I fried everyone’s feet in the van. I made a panicked phone call to dad to see if he could get a replacement to Ammun’s boyfriend Tom who was 2 days away from leaving to come and visit us.
In the evening, we went to a restaurant called Earth which is run by an Englishman (Geordie to be specific) and everything is made from recycled materials. I think there was only one other person there but we didn’t really notice because we ate in a treehouse. We both had really good burgers and even better sweet potato fries and left with very happy tummies. (The stupidly bright light was ruining the first photo so I had to be creative to see everything else!)
After dinner we went back to the Main Street where out hostel was and looked for somewhere to get a drink. However, we were tired and I was still a bit ill so instead of having the local Lao beer, we enjoyed an orange juice and a tea!
The next day I was feeling almost back to normal again as we headed out for the days adventures. We wanted to visit Blue Lagoon 3 and we had the options of bike, motorbike or tuk tuk to get there. We read some reviews online and a lot of people advised against bikes and motorbikes because the road was so awful. Even in a tuk tuk we both bashed our heads because it was so bumpy and was a good few kilometres!
Despite the awful reviews on tripadvisor, we thought the lagoon was beautiful. It was an amazing colour and there wasn’t a massive amount of tourists so we were very excited! However, before we went in the water we wanted to explore a cave that was a 2 minute walk away. We followed a path and then climbed up the side of a mountain a little bit and then had to go down three wooden ladders into the cave! Ammun was too scared to go down the 3rd ladder which takes you into complete darkness so I went first and attempted to take a picture and air drop it up to her. Sadly it didn’t work so she had to come down and see it all for herself! It was all pretty scary because, unlike the caves in Phong Nha, Vietnam, there is absolutely no light. We had to use our iPhones as torches and walk and crawl through passageways until we reached a very dodgy looking ladder and we decided to turn back before one of us died. It was so creepy and eerie but we felt like proper adventurers!
After some tasty lunch, we finally stripped off and grabbed some rubber rings to sit in in the lagoon. For a little lagoon there was a lot going on. There are rubber rings, rafts, a rope swing and a zipline that go over the water. There were also two guys building a balance beam out of the water which a group of young boys LOVED playing on and wresting each other off. It made me remember all the holidays I’ve been on with my whole family and my brothers and boy cousins are so boisterous the whole week like that. (My one girl cousin and I are much more sophisticated you see!) We floated around for ages just enjoying the water and the sights around us.
4.5 hours later we made it back to our tuk tuk driver who took us back over the crazily bumpy road again and back to the town. For dinner we chose a slightly different type of restaurant. In Vang Vieng, there are cafes everywhere that serve food and drink all day and evening and the whole time, play friends box sets! We went to one but waited too long for service and didn’t know who’s attention to get so went across the road to another where we had a bottle of Lao beer with our dinner.
The next day we went back to a friends cafe all morning and I wrote some of my blog while Ammun wrote her journal before our bus back to Luang Prabang. I really hope the idea of friends cafes catches on in England because they’re so popular here! I know some of my friends are big friends fans (and therefore will understand the wording of the title of this blog post!) and I’d happily spend a day with them in a cafe watching episode after episode!
The bus back to Luang Prabang was even worse than the first one. The first guy did it in 5 hours and this one did it in 4 because he drove way faster and didn’t stop for a toilet break. You might think a little bit of extra speed would be fine but in this case, I was scared for my life. I have never ever seen fog as bad as this but the driver was powering on through the mountains and overtaking slower vehicles! We made it back alive.
After one more night in Luang Prabang, we took a short flight to Bangkok where two become three as Ammun’s boyfriend Tom is joining us for two weeks. Ammun and I Arrived in one airport and Tom in the other so I took the 40 minute bus into the city and Ammun took a taxi to the other airport. Turns out my journey was not 40 minutes and Ammun and Tom just managed to beat me to the hostel! It was a very exciting evening as Ammun was happy to see Tom again after so long and Tom had brought a care package from my mum with things that I’s asked for and a few sneaky things that she’d added in. My camera had also arrived in time so I was so happy to have that back and Tom has stocked us up on bug spray and suncream so it felt a little bit like Christmas!
Much as we wanted to do something to celebrate Tom arriving, the pains of travelling hit and we were sat until 11:30pm working out how to get to Koh Phangan the next day. Eventually we had made plans so we went out to get some street food and then went to bed.
As Tom hadn’t slept in nearly 40 hours we made no plans for the morning and at midday rolled out of bed for brunch (well, by the time we had made it out it was just lunch I guess). We went to a restaurant called 25 degrees which does breakfast and burgers and more but we all went for pancakes and French toast which was just incredible.
When Ammun and I were in Bangkok before, we had wanted to go to the weekend market (also called Chatuchak market) but couldn’t so we got ourselves the coolest pimped out uber and headed there. Operating since 1942, it is the largest market in Thailand boasting over 15,000 stalls divided into 27 sections. There was absolutely everything from clothes to homeware to food to massages – it was crazy!
We then got the sky train to Lumpini Park. I had got the sky train back from the airport so I knew how it all worked and it’s very nice and clean. The park offers rare open public space, trees, and playgrounds and contains an artificial lake where visitors can rent boats. One thing I really like is that there is a smoking ban throughout the park.
After a rushed dinner at our hostel we got a taxi to the train station to get our night bus all the way to Koh Phangan.
I’m currently on a boat speeding through the waves on to our next destination after the amazing Koh Phangan. Trust me, there are some beautiful pictures to come!