inconsistent news from southeast asia

Travel time: September 2005 - March 2006  |  by Matthew Audley

rushed update number 1

right, well i'm behind so we're skipping along at a faster rate here..

day 41 was the day we were to bike to Khoung Xi falls, 29km outside of LPB. I still maintain we could've done it. However, they were single speed bikes for $1 or mountain bikes for 5 times that. So we went with the single speeds and didn't make it. It works out in the end, i guess, because we had an enjoyable day of biking around some of the surrounding countryside and towns. We were all supplied with lots of water and oranges and baguette sandwhich. Lots of impossibly green rice paddies and happy waving children.

Me eating an orange.  Catherine says i eat like i monkey.  Do i eat like a monkey?  Note the tuk-tuk coming to run us down.

Me eating an orange. Catherine says i eat like i monkey. Do i eat like a monkey? Note the tuk-tuk coming to run us down.

Day 42, after our failed attempt at the summit, we took a different course, choosing to pay someone to take us up instead.

We wandered out on foot to the day market on the way to the falls, where i finally replaced my gimpy belt with one that doesn't pretend to be any good. Then we figured we'd just walk in the blazing hot sun in the direction of the falls and hail a passing songthaew. Of course, we'd just given up and turned around when we caught one.

It was a long ride up, even by truck, and bumpy and dusty. The falls, once we finally arrived, and the whole area surrounding them were spectacular and well worth seeing. I blew through pictures at an alarming rate.

It really was far too beautiful to even bother photographing, but i did a lot anyway. Lots of green pools and wide streams with smaller streams and falls everyhwere.

As you continue up towards the summit, you eventually realize the real falls are towering up above you. Not only this, but you can climb all the way to the top if you so choose. The route consists of precarious, slippery paths leading all the way up, but i think it was well worth it even when you factor in the leeches i picked up at the top.

As a side note, i think the leeches here just aren't that impressive. First off, they're these tiny little wormy things that squirm like crazy. Secondly, they just didn't seem to attach themselves very succesfully. Maybe i was just lucky and caught them early. They certainly were disgusting though, i'll give them that.

the falls, they are big.

the falls, they are big.

Day 43 we take the 6:30 bus south to Vang Vieng. It's a six and a half hour ride through mountains, mountains, and more mountains. The scenery here is stunning, but it makes for tough bus rides. 90% of the country is mountainous.

The upshot to taking the early bus is that we arrive with half a day to do something productive with. Immediately, we take up the local sport - inner tubing. Always been one of my favourites.

It's better in some ways than might be expected: the scenery continues to astound me and it's beautiful and sunny for the two hours we float down the river. However, there's a bar every 200 feet or so. Well, some people might enjoy this, and yes, i did have a beer, but the blaring music i definitely could've done without. And teh drunken frat boys. Turns out the town was just like that, however.

Some of the scenery on the way to Vang Vieng.

Some of the scenery on the way to Vang Vieng.

tubing.  tubing on a river.

tubing. tubing on a river.

Yeah, i have a lot of complaints about Vang Vieng, and i didn't even hate it nearly as much as Catherine. Lots of young tourists here just to get drunk cheap. Lots of bars playing episodes of Friends to zombie tourists who are getting drunk. ISN'T THIS WHAT YOU DO AT HOME?

The whole town just made us both very bitter about the negative effect tourism can and is having on poor countries like this one. Anyway, we only spent one day there. It did have some great run down areas going for it. Great in the way that i enjoy taking these pictures, aynway.

it's a barber shop. that's a bag of hair in the corner.

it's a barber shop. that's a bag of hair in the corner.

Today's the 28th, and we're back in Luang Prabang, having spent the day on that damn bus again. It was bad again, but there's worse to come if we hope to get all the way to Hanoi (via Phonsovan and Vihn, hopefully). I think it's 24 hours to Hanoi.

© Matthew Audley, 2005
You are here : Overview Asia Laos rushed update number 1
The trip
Leaving for bangkok on Sept. 12. Where we go from there is anyone's guess. Hoping to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Be back in six months or so if everything goes well. There really isn't much of a route planned - we'll see what happens.
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Mar 19, 2006
Travelled countries: Thailand
Southeastern Asia
The Author
Matthew Audley is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 19 years.
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