6/26/17 - 7/1/17
Luang Prabang is adorable. It’s super chill and sleepy. Roosters crow all day long, and monks walk the streets each morning to collect alms. There is a bamboo bridge that’s only for foot traffic which is rebuilt each year (after the rains end) that you can use to get into town. The streets have lovely flowers growing out of every crevice and crack, and random tiny brick-paved roads appear out of nowhere and lead off to mysterious places.
Originally I planned to spend a couple of days doing nothing, just catching up on everything, reading a book and coloring a picture. However, the next morning the couple from England invited myself and Mr. Toolbag to join them on a journey to Kuang Si waterfalls. I learned very early on in this process to not say no to offers like this, especially when it means you are sharing the costs of transport, so off we went. We crossed the little bamboo bridge into town, and immediately got harassed by tuktuk drivers wanting to take us out for the day. They didn’t want to haggle the price much, so we said we were going to go get a drink and decide what we wanted to do, maybe ask around a little. Well, this tuktuk driver followed us all the way to the shop to make sure he could have our business. We finally agreed on a price, and headed to the waterfall.
The drive out to the waterfalls took a while, and we chatted about things along the way. The couple from England had lots of fun stories, and we really connected. I suppose I should defend myself for calling Florida a toolbag. He’s been living in Korea teaching English for the last two years, and only has negative things to say about his time there. He thinks he’s going to get a high paying job researching how we got to this current political stage as a professor at a university (despite not having an advanced degree). He thinks he’s the youngest traveler out there (he’s 24), and his first question to anyone he meets is to ask their age for the express purpose of comparing it to his own. Every time he says something he smirks and rolls his eyes at the end of his sentence (the visual equivalent to ending each sentence by saying “so…”, as in “Well I grew up in Florida, sooo…”). He never offers any kind words to anyone and doesn’t care to hear your story. He’s been traveling for only a couple of weeks and talks about how he knows everything about all these different places despite spending two nights in each one, and appears to have only eaten sandwiches the entire time. He wears floral shirts and boat shoes and is apathetic about dogs. We low-key loathe each other. It’s okay though, I’ve been without an arch nemesis for awhile.
To get to the waterfalls you first walk through a bear sanctuary that rehabs sun bears and moon bears. You get to watch them napping, basically… on platforms, in hammocks, up against the glass. They’re adorable, and now I also know the difference between the two. The waterfalls themselves are absolutely stunning! It’s basically level after level of clear blue-green cascades, some of which form pools you can swim in. We chose to start off by going all the way up to the very top, which involves a bit of a steep hike up a muddy trail. At one point there are some stairs to help with part of it, and the waterfall was flowing over them. Guess who had on her waterproof hiking shoes? This girl. My three companions had flip flops, and had a much more difficult time with the process. I went ahead and mentally high-fived myself again. When we finally made it to the top we had the pools up there mostly to ourselves, with great views of the valley and the cascades below. There was even a cute little swing! Unfortunately we learned very quickly that the pools are all filled with those same little fish that love to nibble on your feet and legs. I. Can’t. I cannot handle the feeling. You would be relaxing in the water and out of nowhere someone would start nibbling on your leg. It didn’t hurt or anything, but it really catches you off guard, and I can’t get the visual of little fish mouths out of my head. This limited the time I was willing to spend in the water, unfortunately, so I spent most of my time swishing my legs around to keep the fish away until it was time to move on to the next. Doesn’t matter, still had a fun time!
We all went out to dinner together that night at a well-recommended spot. I got the Mok Pa, which is fish steamed in banana leaves (I think very similar to Amok in Cambodia. It was absolutely amazing and easily the best meal I’ve had on this entire trip. After dinner we walked across the street to a cute little cocktail bar and sat and talked for a couple hours while trying different specialty cocktails. Given that Pirates of the Caribbean has made an appearance in my trip at least twice now it seemed fitting to get a drink called the Jack Sparrow, which was Kahlua, Baileys, and Jack. Not bad.
That night the power went out for the first of many times in the last week. We all sweated our brains out while attempting to sleep. The power came back on some time in the morning, and we all retreated to our rooms to blast the air conditioning and get a few minutes of reprieve from the heat.
We met up with some other travelers the couple from England knew and all walked together up the road to the paper making village. We got to see how they make paper from mulberry...bushes? Trees? I’m unclear on that. Mulberry plants. They had several cute little shops as well so we perused the notebooks, cards, and paper lanterns they had. I really wanted to get a cute delicate paper lantern, but there’s no conceivable way for me to get that home in one piece, so I left it for someone with a hard sided suitcase and only one destination.
Our gaggle of humans then went to a cute restaurant along the river for lunch. A couple of people got “fondue” pots, which was incredibly interesting. They took the center tile out of the table, put a burning fire bucket thing in the hole, and then placed a pot-like thing on top of it. You cook your meat on the middle bumpy part, and then pour water around the edges and cook your noodles and veggies in the water as it boils. The food was delicious, but the new people at the table were exhausting. They spent the entire time talking about what tiny corner of England they were from, and the two new girls that were there just kept talking about their hair? I was bored out of my mind, and didn’t have the energy to pretend otherwise. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pretend I give a sh*t about the highlights you used to have or how different your accent is from someone who lives in somethingshire.
That night was pizza and movie night at our Airbnb -- the wonderful hosts took us to Secret Pizza where we each got a full size pizza on a tree slice slab of a plate. Yum! Then we went back to our house and they put on a movie outside with a projector, so we watched Life of Pi while fireflies blinked in the trees and frogs did their mating screams in the background. Ahh, Laos.
PS I forgot to show you the awesome printer at the Vientiane airport.