Friday, October 12, 2012

The Chiang Mai of the slightly to the north east

My break-neck tour of Laos lasted just 10 days, which is probably something like the average but was a shock to my system, as I'm used to giving myself about twice as long as I need in every place to account for work days and days where I just can't really be bothered to go out and would rather watch Red Dwarf and eat biscuits. I've been travelling for two years without a break, got a problem with that?

Laos was a testing ground to see whether I could get all my work done on long distance bus journeys to free up time once I got to my destination, now that I've replaced my laptop with one that has a battery life longer than two hours (how did I cope with that for so long?) This new system works well for me, but I still could have done with spending a little longer in the old capital of Luang Prabang - the first and last place in Laos that didn't just stress me out and reminded me a lot of Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Apparently, you can take a seven-hour speedboat journey between those two places, so could theoretically divide your time between Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang until your respective visas expire, making the trip across the border every two to four weeks until your inevitable death. Not the worst retirement plan.

Luang Prabang

The Mekong river. That's another one checked off my life goal of tracking down the namesakes of Deep Space Nine runabouts - only nine to go! (There wasn't a USS Nile?)

I warned you last time, it's mostly going to be temples and monasteries from now on

Wat Xieng Toung at the least photogenic time of day. Thanks a lot, sun


(I'm showing the appropriate level of cultural respect, right?)

Laos can be surprisingly expensive for tourists compared to Thailand and some other South East Asian countries, but you can still find the local bargains - like this buffet that costs 10,000 kip per heaped plate (about 79p).

It's one suspect for the diabolical diarrhoea that overcame me a few days later, fortunately after the bus journeys were all over. That wouldn't have been fun for anyone

Phou Si Hill

Maybe it was the lack of sleep on night buses or concussion from the tree, but these guys didn't exactly make me feel welcome

Chom Si stupa. Like the waterfall, it looks more impressive from down below

One of my rubbish cobbled-together panoramas. It's been a while

Cretins waiting for sunset. It was only about 5PM and the views already looked spectacular, what are you hanging around for? I'm so over the sun

Precarious cat

Laos route map

A Vientiane
B Xieng Khuan
C Vang Vieng
D Luang Prabang
E Kuang Si


  1. Laos is one of those words that I always pronounce wrong first time round. "Lay-oss is..." wait...

    1. They say it 'Lao' (like Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat) but 'Louse' is okay. Because I was there with my Thai girlfriend, I'm used to pronouncing all these places in Thai, which is similar to Laos, so English speakers might think I'm weird or just German when I say Wienjan (Vientiane) and Wang Wieng (VV). But she actually got annoyed when I tried to pronounce Luang Prabang properly (something like 'Loo-an Pabah') and insisted I use the lazy English transliteration instead.

  2. In the first photo under 'Phou Si Hill' your focus is all wrong. In the background is a statue with an amazingly long beard. I'll show you in a few months when I get round to this part of my trip.