Today I left Luang Prabang in Laos to head back to Thailand. I’ve loved Laos, but it’s also thrown me some new life experiences I wasn’t intending on having – ever.
I wasn’t sure whether to write about this, but pretending my trip here was plain sailing would be a lie. Life is all about ups and downs anyway, and I’m not one to be dishonest about mine. On Sunday, on the way back from the Kuang Si waterfall, my tuk tuk minivan was involved in a collision with a young boy. It was awful and it’s something that will stay with me forever; such a contrast from feeling so excited and alive, to be so shocked and sad. My instant reaction was, I wish I could so something to help, so I have decided to do some form of first aid training when I go back home.
Anyways, moving on and rewind a few days. On my minibus to Luang Prabang from Vang Vieng, I befriended a few Korean lads. Peace ✌🏽️
The journey was an experience to say the least! The roads were better condition than from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, but this route went through the mountains.
The scenery was stunning, but the high altitude made me feel sick and hot. We even went above the clouds! I must’ve looked a bit pale at one point, and one of my new friends asked if I felt okay.
Upon arriving at my hostel, I tagged along with a group and checked out the night market. It’s huge, with a seemingly endless road of souvenirs, and of course I have bought a few (my fav being a purple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle keyring). The food stalls were immense too.
Filling your bowl cost 10,000 kip – 90p. Everyone sat on a long bench to eat it, so it was a great opportunity to talk to fellow travellers and hear their stories. Afterwards we went to a bar called Utopia, where I bumped into so many other travellers I’ve seen elsewhere in Asia. It’s a tourist hot spot, but with cushioned floor seats and chilled vibes – it was nice!
There is a “thing” in Luang Prabang where once all the bars and clubs close around 11pm, everyone piles into tuk tuks and goes bowling! No joke. I went along with the crowd I met that evening, and befriended two guys from Liverpool, Nathanael and Josh, while I was there. They said I was the most normal English person they had met so far during their travels, which is really saying something!
You can only buy spirits alcohol by the bottle, so a few of us chipped in about 50p to buy a bottle of whiskey with some mixers.
I was really cold, so being the gent that Nathanael was, he gave me his jacket to wear. I looked so fetching, especially as I was still wearing my baggy pattern trousers from the bus journey. Hot.
Monday morning I woke up to meet a chap bunking above me, Chinese Tony we called him, who was the most enthusiastic person I have ever met. So sweet, he asked “what are we doing today?” Internal giggles yet again. We made some more friends in the hostel and we all got a tuk tuk to see the butterfly park and the waterfalls, the former being our first stop.
But of course the butterfly park had a waterfall!
Entrance to the park was expensive in Lao terms, but only about £4 in British Sterling. An Irish tour guide took us into a special enclosure, where he showed us cocoons and caterpillars, highlighting the different stages of metamorphosis. The darker cocoons are where the butterfly’s wings and pattern are taking to take form.
Next stop was the waterfall. Just inside the visitor’s entrance is a bear sanctuary. Formally caged and used for tricks, these bears seemed so happy and lazy, chilling in the sunshine.
Then onto the waterfalls! There is one big drop, with a few smaller ones along the way down.
Pictured below is the main drop, it went so high but the camera doesn’t quite pick it out the top.
And again without my stupid face, and some minor Instagram editing.
Was a nice day out for some monks too.
We climbed to the top, which was such a personal sense of achievement. My hips were so sore and I was the slowest of the group, but I got a little round of applause when I made it. The views were amazing too.
After I climbed down, we stripped off and got into the water. It was so cold, I managed to get this still off my GoPro footage – made me laugh at my own reaction.
This is my new best friend Hasi, from Germany. Looks like I’ll be visiting Munich sometime soon.
We jumped in together, but the angle wasn’t quite right.
After what followed, the evening was very low key and reflective. I also changed my travel plans from getting a 20 hour bus to a 1 hour flight. Even today I am still on edge being driven on the roads.
Two new people joined my dorm room, and one of them had told me about a cookery school he booked himself on to. Sounded like great fun, so I booked myself on to it too.
First off we went to a food market. The top left photo, the bright purple vegetables aubergines – look how tiny they are?! The top right, cucumbers! They were huge.
When we got back, we had a cuppa and donned our aprons. I tried to look the part and failed a tad.
Everyone else were in pairs apart from me, where the others had someone sourcing the ingredients, measuring it all out, washing up while the other cooked, I had to multi task and do it all myself. It also meant that instead of two people sharing two plates, I had two plates to myself!
For lunch, we all ate a salad and a noodle dish. The salad is pretty basic and easy to make at home, even with the peanut mayonnaise. The second dish was fried sticky noodle, egg, chicken and vegetable, served with chilli soy sauce and some lime zest.
After lunch, and another cup of tea, we watched the chef prepare five different dishes which we would taste then choose to make two of them ourselves.
I made red chicken and vegetable curry, which didn’t turn out as creamy as I would’ve liked, and also an aubergine, spring onion and pork medley. I was absolutely stuffed.
Afterwards I went for a walk and managed to catch monks, in temples all lined up next to each other, banging drums.
Luang Prabang had a great atmosphere and I could’ve easily stayed longer. I’ll be back for sure.