Friday, December 21, 2012

Laos backpack (8-11.12.2012)

I am actually waiting for my thesis examiner outside his room now. The initial plan was to take half day leave from work, and go back hometown with Mr. Voon, my colleague. But my examiner's tight schedule meant that it's whether I meet him today at 6.00pm, or 3.00pm next Friday.

So I've got no choice.

I still hope to eat 汤圆 today. I've forgotten how long I've been absent at home for this auspicious day.

~~~

I first read about Luang Prabang in Laos about a year ago. That article rated Luang Prabang in Laos, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Bagan in Burma as the 3 ancient, sacred historical sites in South East Asia. I've been to both the latter sites, which leaves Luang Prabang the odd one out.

And boy, I was determined get there to complete the trilogy. The plan was simple. A technically 3D3N trip to Luang Prabang.

So when AirAsia came in with a return ticket offer of RM 140.00, I took it, alone.

And was later only joined by my cousin, and my nephew, who had just completed his SPM.

The uncle bringing the nephew to see how other people live.

We departed LCCT on Saturday morning (8.12.12), with basically some clothes, with a Lonely Planet guidebook. We reached the capital Vientiane. Then, there was a choice for taking a 10 hours bus ride, and have very little free time, from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, for around 10 USD, or to take 40 minute domestic flight for 170 USD, return.

Due to time constraint, and that money seems secondary nowadays, we chose the latter.   

Took my first propeller plane in my life - Laos Airlines
It wasn't as scary as it sounds
Reached Luang Prabang with this sunset.

The few guesthouse we referred from Lonely Planet were all fully-booked. At last a teenager directd to this guesthouse"

3 person to a room at 50,000 Kip each
Woke up at 5.30am the next day to see monks collecting donations
After that, we found ourselves some mountain bikes, and set off for a 40 km ride into the wilderness (which was unplanned for). The target being Kuangsi Waterfall.

Of course, we only managed half~

The roads into Kuangsi were fine at first, but after around 1.5 hours of paddling, it became quite mountainous and stiff. We stop a pick-up truck by the road side, and together with our bicycles, hitched the ride to Kuangsi.

And on the truck, it still took like 30 minutes there.

Too bad we were not allowed to swim there 
Mekong river, Luang Prabang
Temples
Spring roles
Sunset
A minute too late
We actually left Luang Prabang on an A320, while the other flight from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai had the propeller (Only in Laos I guess)
Pha Tat Luang, Vientiane
No, it's not what you are thinking
Ice-cream?
The evening laze, in Vientiane
No wonder, it's Youtube's record
That night, we had free flow of Revive Isotonic drinks
One thing about Laos, it's not the cheapest country for a backpacker. While the domestic flight in Indonesia between Yogya and Surabaya was around RM 100.00 per way, the domestic flight from Vientiane to Luang Prabang is RM 550.00 return. Tuk-tuks are charge per head, from 1 USD. Rooms are rented out counted by person, rather than by rooms. There's no economics of scales there.

 It just seems to me that the country isn't very fluent in how to generate income more efficiently.

Laos as a war-torn country, has a long history of internal and external conflicts. The Laotian royal family, the French, US, Chinese, Vietnamese, communist, democrats... All had a hand to do with it.

 It has hardly any national exports besides the tourism industry. if compared to their more exciting  neighbours like Thailand and Vietnam.

Thus the life-style in Laos, or particularly in Luang Prabang, is one of the most slow-paced I've seen thru out South East Asia.

With French toast
So, it's really turns out to be the perfect place for a runaway in life 
Oh I see, no wonder, it's the French

The 4 days trip, including all air tickets took around RM 1300.00 per person. Well the domestic flight required a bomb, but it was in anyway, worth every penny, in exchange for the, well, 10 hours bus-ride. In Vientiane, we stayed at a hostel-like room for 80,000 kip (around RM 30.00) for 3 person, beside the (Lonely Planet) top-rated but fully booked Mixar Guesthouse, in Mixar Road, downtown.

But, I am quite sure that I'll be back at Luang Prabang.

Ps1: Happy Winter Solace Festival. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year folks!
Ps2: Well, I knew it. It wasn't the end of the world today.

3 comments:

Ice said...

LOL. I don't believe it either, but some how pray hard in my heart that nothing will happen cuz that's my birthday!

Merry cmas & happy new year!

crusader said...

Haha! Merry Christmas, happy birthday, happy new year!

Anonymous said...

let me know when u are to visit Luang Prabang again...but not with the 40km cycle trip, please...

regards,
PY