Friday, February 8, 2013

To and From Luang Prabang

So I went up to Luang Prabang in Northern Laos over the weekend.

Luang Prabang is saddled between the Mekong and the Nam Kahn Rivers

The trip was a good one, and I do have a couple of stories to tell about it.  Today, though, I'm just going to focus on the actual journey involved, because I think it's kind of interesting.

I started in Ban Thin and went up to Nong Khai, which is on the Thai side of the Frendship Bridge, a two kilometer bridge connecting Laos and Thailand.  Vientiane, Laos' capital, is on the other side.  One must go through a border crossing going either direction, and after the border crossing there are busses which shuttle travellers to the other side of the bridge.

In Vientiane I caught a bus up to Luang Prabang.  It's about a nine hour busride through the mountains of the Laos countryside.  The road is twisty, turny, steep and treacherous... really.

Fortunately, I reached my destination safely, albeit tired and cramped.  The bus was a bed bus, which would be good if I was asian-sized, like the people it was intended for.  As it was, though, I was about 20 cm taller than the bed, so I couldn't lie down straight.

I got in around 5:30 in the morning... welcome to Luang Prabang!

This wouldn't have been two much of a problem, except the beds were pretty narrow... and I had a bedmate.  The bus was actually pretty nice, but it just wasn't quite large enough for a Farang like me.

Like I said, the bus was nice... it looks kind of space-agey in this picture

It was just a little small for two people

Taking a similar bus back from Luang Prabang would have been the fastest way to get back, but Thailand has a strange rule where it only awards 30-day visas to travellers arriving by air.  Had I gone back by bus, I would have only received 15-days.

Because of this, I ended up taking a plane with Lao Airlines to Chiang Mai, one of Thailand's major cities, and another bus from Chiang Mai back to Ban Thin.

The plane was kind of neat- it was a smaller sized prop plane.  I would have liked to tell more about how it flew, but I was so tired I passed out before we got into the air.

What I do remember is the stewardesses who were milling around the airport- each one was identical to the photo Lao Airlines used to advertise their service- they were all the same height, clad in blue, had perfect buns and a small flower in their hair.  It was really actually quite uncanny how similar they all were.

This photo doesn't quite do Ms. Stewardess justice
Also, 'stewardesses' is the longest English word one can type with just hte left hand.

After a couple of hours in Chiang Mai (and a very relaxing massage), I took the bus back to Ban Thin.  This one, thank goodness, had seats instead of beds... and I slept like a baby.

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