Friday, February 20, 2009

In Laos now...

Last week we spent 2 long days in the cramped quarters of the slow boat down to Luang Prabang from the Thai border crossing. (Although we were lucky to have reasonably good seats because we arrived early both mornings.) The scenery was nice though. Very different from anything else we'd seen so far and we passed lots of little villages with bamboo huts, people out fishing and washing in the river and they were nice to see too.

On the first day here we just wandered around the town here. We treated ourselves to massages after the 2 days stuck on the slow boat. It was nice enough but a lot of slapping, pinching, squeezing and squashing. A bit strange, very different from at home!
On our second day we decided to go to the Tam Ting (Pak Ou) Caves where people come and place statues of Buddha. It was a long and very bumpy ride to get there, especially since the last 10km of the drive was on a dirt road and after that they were a bit of a let down.
We were up early yesterday morning to see the Morning Alms. It was nice to see but very touristy (says me the tourist) but we stayed across the road and took some of our photo's from there whereas there were others who were nearly blocking the monks paths and standing right in front of them with flashing camera even though you're asked not too and there's signs up all over town to that effect.

We hired bikes then and cycled out to a local craft village called Ban Xang Kong where they do a lot of weaving and make handmade mulberry paper. It was great to get to see the weaving and 2 very kind ladies let me have a go on their loom. It might have been more for their entertainment though, I wasn't very good at it and they were in stitches at me. Still I was delighted to try it out.

We got to see the paper making process in different stages along the way to. In one place we could see them boiling the mulberry bark and Foss had a go at mulching it up.

Then in another shop we saw a girl making a sheet of plain paper using the mulch
and in another shop we got to see a ladie adding in flowers and stuff.

It was interesting to see the whole process. I was in my element and managed to pick up a 'few' sheets of paper very cheaply.

On the way back we passed the school here in Luang Prabang and there were signs up inviting people in so we had a nose around. It was very basic and the classrooms seemed very small but when I asked how many were in each class I was told only 15 -18. Batt O Keeffe would want to take a leaf out of their book.

Yesterday we spent a really amazing day in the Kuang Si National Park. First thing you see when you enter the park is a bear sanctuary where they have bears that have been rescued from poachers and other places that bears shouldn't be I suppose.

Further in there is one main waterfall and as it flows along through the park there are lots of little falls and it has created 3 really beautiful swimming pools. The water there was lovely and blue and the pools were surrounded with all these trees and plants. It was amazing, like something from a film or a travel magazine. In one of the pools there is a tree with a rope hanging from it. We had a few goes on that but we were nowhere near as good as the locals who were like acrobats. There's a high enough waterfall there too so we took a few jumps off that as well.

We spent most of the day splashing around the pools there and had great fun. It was lovely. Such a fantastic day.

We rounded it off with an evening in the 'cinema' in L'Etranger watching SlumDog Millionaire. It's really a bookshop and on Tuesday evening we went there to swap books. We had missed the start of the film for that night and when we asked what was playing the following night they let us pick out from a choice of 3 so then we had to go back to watch The Accidental Husband. I had picked up a copy of SlumDog in the market and asked if they'd be able to play that but he said it's so popular they play it every Saturday night. So last night we found ourselves sprawled out on the cushioned floor watching SlumDog Millionaire. It was a great film, loved it.

So after 5 days in the care of Mama and Papa in the Oudomphong guesthouse,

we left Luang Prabang, and one long, cramped, bumpy and windy minivan journey later we've arrived in Vang Vieng. Hope to do some tubing here over the next few days.

Anyway that's about all. Don't forget to leave a comment or send us an email, we'd love to hear how everyone is and any news from home.

Cheers, Jan and Paul


  1. Hi Jan & Fossie.
    Thats a super blog - Laos looks so lovely and as for the waterfall - had a good wash had ye! Ye're Laos 'mum& Dad' look really nice. Jan do you want to post that paper you bought back home and I will put it away safely for you - just in case it gets damaged with all the travelling.
    No news from here - only all bad news on the economy so ye are not missing much.

    Will send an email when I sort out the flights.

    Love Mum

  2. Hi! I’m the Community Manager of We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about the Laos, and we think that yours is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from blogs like yours (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at
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  3. Hey Jan & Fossie. Its Sunday lunch time. Looking out at a gray sky & its raining on & off. Then I look at the 2 of ye, in glorious weather, jumping into beautiful pools!!!! Oh, I feel so sorry for ye!!!! I am so jealous. The pictures are amazing. The places ye are seeing & the cultures ye are experiencing are once in a life time stuff. I love picture of the bear sanctuary - thought it was Foss first. Had to look closer!!!
    Matthew doing well in child minders monday Tuesday & wednesday and in my parents thurs & fri (until creche takes him in June/July). Its hard being back at work, especially being away from Matthew. He will be 9 months on Tuesday. Where is the time going.
    Hope all is well with ye both. Keep the updates & pictures coming - they are really fascinating. Lots of Love, Micheal, Mags & of course Matthew. (kisses and painful bites from Matthew!!!)