My first night in Laos in Luang Prabang. That's our guesthouse where we stayed for 3 nights.
The whole city is registered as a World Heritage Site and it's has Ancient temples all over the city.
Our room during our 3-day stay in LP. Complete with aircon, bathroom, and a complementary bottle of water and army of ants. The room was a bit filthy with broken floor tiles that my friend almost slipped over. Otherwise, it was well worth the $10 per night.
The night market was a 10 minute walk from our guesthouse. The place was pretty crowded, as you can expect. But worth visiting.
Although we were pretty tired from the long flight from Tokyo, our excitement and curiosity overwhelmed our craving to head to bed. You can imagine how we were when we finally went to bed that night.
A close shot of one of the walls of the temple. There were gazillions of drawings on the walls that were supposed to tell a story.
My friend standing by the hydra statue, the symbol of Laos. You'll always see them somewhere inside temples throughout Laos.
The view of the main street looking towards the airport. The place had so many gueshouses, hotels, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops. You name it. And the prices were quite a bargain, despite the jacked up prices that we tourists are treated with.
The early morning alms giving. You'd have to get up early to see this in Luang Prabang, as it's well worth watching when you visit the city. It was originally a buddhist ritual where monks would walk single file to a temple and the locals would provide them with food. Now it's become so much like a tourist event that even tourists give out all sorts of stuff aside from fried rice.
This is the ride we rented to see Pak Ou caves and Kwangsi Falls, both of which were on the opposite sides of Luang Prabang. It was a 40 km trip to each tourist spot from Luang Prabang.
On our way back from Kwangsi, we had a flat tire and had to push the bike about a kilo to the nearest shop in the sweltering heat. They replaced the entire inner tube and only cost $5.
A view of Kwangsi falls. There were tourists who were bathing in the water. We regret not bringing our bathing suits :(
We met 3 Vietnamese girls and asked them to take this shot for us. In return, they asked us to take a pic of their sweet faces. Um, no pics of the girls. Sorry!
This is the magnificent view of the mountain that has the Pak Ou caves. It was about 80 km from Kwangsi falls. We stopped by Luang Prabang for a brief lunch break. I remember ordering super hot noodles and nearly burning my tongue.
A close shot of Pak Ou caves. You can see an entrance to the caves near the foot of the mountain near the river. Only way to get there is to ride a motorboat to and from the caves, which cost about $2.50 round trip, which includes admission to the cave.
Laos vodka........... Great stuff! I tried to order some at the night market to bring home. But due to regulations with fluid, I had to throw them out.
We headed to Luang Prabang airport to catch a flight to Pakse. There was really nothing much in Pakse but was a good place to stay to do all your touring. We checked out the Champasak ruins , Sipan Dong and other tourist spots which I'll fill you in later on :)
That's our plane to Pakse. Turbo props are pretty noisy and the ride isn't as pleasant as a jet. Cost us about $300 for a round trip to and fro Pakse to LPQ. That's about a year's worth of salary for a newly grad public servant.
Lunch was served onboard. Nothing much to fill your tummy. But booze was served onboard. That's not something we'd get on a similar domestic flight in Japan. No?
Kids, don't do drug okay? That's what they'll do to you in most parts of Asia. Laos is no exception!
Downtown Pakse from mainstreet. There were some hotels and guesthouses catering to tourists. But otherwise, there was really nothing much.
We arrived in Pakse and were too tired to go touring. We bought some food at a stand and ate quietly in our hotel rooms. I remember sneaking out of my room and leaving my friend behind to eat Laos noodles that evening, just a few hours before the countdown. After that, we went to bed early and were awaken by firecrackers in the middle of the night. Happy New Year, folks!
Our rented ride in Pakse. Cost about $5 a day. We were headed towards Champasak ruins. We had to cross the river by raft and decided to take our bike with us. We had to hold down the bike with our hands so it didn't flip overboard.
The entrance to Champasak ruins. We met a couple of Japanese girls who met each other in Laos. The trip was about 40 km from our hotel in Pakse. We almost got lost on our way and had to ask for directions. We had a hard time trying to understand their gestures due to the language barrier. Nonetheless, it was a good experience.
Another shot of the ruins. We met a Canadian couple and had a nice chat. We spent the last day in Luang Prabang ( yes, we went back, dammit! ) and bumped into the couple again. Talk about coincidence!
On our way home, we saw a huge buddhist statue atop a hill near Pakse. Although we were hot and tired and craving a can of beer and bath from the sightseeing, I persuaded my friend to go and greet this great buddha and assure us a prosperous year ( yeah, right ). The walk to the top of the hill was pretty steep and energy consuming. Nonetheless the view from the top was rewarding. That's the Japan-Laos friendship bridge leading into central Pakse.
The great buddha himself! This is a relatively new tourist attraction but definitely worth checking out if you are visiting Pakse.
From there, we took some kind of pickup truck that had a roof and some kind of bench in the cargo space. Typical Laos form of transportation, if you ask me. The trip to Siphan Dong cost $4 and the ride was about 3 hours.
The view of the Siphan Dong is just magnificent. It flows into the Mekong river and is located near the border with Cambodia.
The great Mekong near the Cambodian border. We were to catch a bus back to Pakse bus station that afternoon. But when we went back to the bus station in Siphan Dong, the clerk told us we'd have to wait till tomorrow to get back. We almost gave up and decided to hitch a ride. We hailed a van that had a female American tourist onboard. Apparently, she booked a tour to see Siphan Dong from her hotel in Champasak, which cost her 90 bucks. She was on her way back to her hotel and we were just headed in the same direction. We didn't have enough money with us but paid her a total of $30. At least we got home on time. The ride was much more comfortable than that modified pickup we rode earlier.
We checked out from our hotel and were headed to Pakse airport to return to LPQ. We had enough time to wait for the flight and decided to kill some time at an Internet cafe. We even walked to the airport, which was only 4 km away from central Pakse. Of course, all the exercise in the sweltering heat wasn't enough to kill us.