First and foremost- a shoutout to Lennie Zhu, who is not only spunky and beautiful but also almost as cool as her own earrings, which is saying a lot, because I don't think I know of anything cooler than Lennie's taste in dangling pinna ornaments.
|Lookit that dangle|
So Laos- or at least Luang Prabang- shuts down at 11:15. It's strange- there are hundreds of backpackers in Luang Prabang and the bars and pubs are completely full, but at 11 there's a last call and at 11:15 the barkeeper goes around asking everyone to leave.
This was somewhat unfortunate, because even in the few short days that we were in Luang Prabang we found a haunt we really liked: Utopia.
|No lights! Only candles.|
Utopia wasn't very Laotian, but it was lots of fun. Actually, I don't think I saw a single Laotian there, other than the waitstaff. It was a more-or-less outside bar, with a couple roofed areas but lots of tables and benches strewn around a large garden and some boardwalks overlooking the Mekong. There were long cushions and hammocks instead of chairs and strange music which one didn't notice unless one was really listening.
|I promise you, this place is a bar. It's pretty awesome.|
The whole joint was decorated with UXOs, bombs collected from the Laotian countryside. While there wasn't ever a war officially fought with Laos, much of the Vietnamese war occurred on Laotian soil, and there are to this day more tons of unexploded bombs in Laos than any other country in the world. Utopia nobly tried to bring awareness to this issue.
More importantly than anything else, though, Utopia had a full-sized sand volleyball court. I think we played volleyball every night in Luang Prabang. Sometimes it was the Germans vs. the French, with the Dutch joining the Germans, sometimes it was a multinational free-for-all, and sometimes it was just everyone against the Aussies. It was generally a good time.
On my last night there a friendly bus-driver pulled me into his group to try some Lao Lao, a mysterious Laotian beverage somewhere between Ouzo, Sambuca, and Kerosene. It wasn't very good, but the group was fun.
|BeerLaos is the only beer served in Laos, and owned partially by Carlsberg.|
There actually is one thing to do after 11:15: on the outskirts of Luang Prabang, a single secluded bowling alley is open until 2:30. What this means is that the bars empty out on-cue at 11:00 and the tuk-tuk drivers line up to try and pack as many tipsy tourists into their trucks as possible and speed off to the bowling alleys. They say Laos is a communist country, but seeing the tuk-tuk drivers undercut one another to get that one last fare makes me wonder that.
|We briefly commandeered a tuktuk|