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Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang

LAOS | Friday, 23 November 2012 | Views [5436]

21st November 2012

The bus leaves Luang Namtha at 9 am. It's a local bus and you can not pre-book seats, so you have to get to the station early.  We ask the tuk-tuk driver how much to the station and he says it will be 10,000 kip.  (We had read in the Lonely Planet, that it's normally around 20,000 so we a pleased we are not being riped off, for a change.)  He chugs slowly down the road and stops at a tour operators a few metres away. The guy from the shop comes out, he and the tuk-tuk driver exchange a few words, then the guy from the shop asks where we are going, when we tell him, he speaks to our driver, who then asks the shop man to tell us it will be 15,000 kip. Bless him, he didn't speak any English and agreed to take us somewhere, even though he didn't know where!

We get to the station and get our tickets to Luang Prabang.  They cost us 100,000 kip each (8.00p) for the 9 hour journey - not looking forward to today very much, it has to be said.

The road for the first 7 + hours is extremely scenic up and over the mountains.  The roads are narrow and there is a hair-pin bend at virtually every corner. It's no wonder it takes 9 hours, we haven't traveled on roads like this since South America. It's a real eye-opener passing through the mountain villages, where people are taking showers on the roadside under a stand-pipe, or in the rivers and streams.  It really does make us stop and think how fortunate we are.

After about 8 hours we pull in at a bus station and after sitting stationary for about 10 minutes, the young bus-boy shouts out "Luang Prabang". He starts gesturing to us, to get off the bus.  We are slightly confused, as we know we are not at our destination.  Good news, in fact, we are being transfered to a mini-bus. The next hour and a half whiz by, literally, our driver certainly makes up for lost time! We arrive safely at about 7 pm.

Our room is nice, but a lot more expensive than the last place though. (We are paying 13 pound here - it's amazing how quick you get used to the prices of things, in Malaysia for example, we were paying on average 20.00p for a room, in Thailand it was around 8, and in Lao so far we had paid 5.50!)

We had a good nights sleep, (for a change) and decide just to spend the day walking around and getting our bearings. It's a really nice town. It was made into a world heritage site in '90's (I think). At the bottom of our road is the Mekong River. We sit here for quite a while, just watching the long boats crossing back and forth with the locals.

We have booked a trip for tomorrow (a rare thing for us to do), we are going 25km upstream on the Mekong to the Pak Ou caves and then to some waterfalls in the afternoon.  Matt was really peed off after we booked it. We agreed the price (135,000 each) and then as we parted with the money, the chap told us that the admission to the caves and waterfall were extra! (it's only 20,00 to each, but it is the principle of the thing. Why can't people just be honest with you, from the start?)  Let's hope it's a good day out.

We finished off our day, by walking up to Phu Si temple at the top of a 100m high hill, (sweating like pigs!),  to watch sunset over the Mekong River! It sounds very romantic doesn't it? it's a shame there were about 100+ other people up too!!

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