Laos Wins

May 9th, 2007

I made it to Laos – Vietnam is Finished. I’ve been here only 5 days, but its already significantly different than the rest of SE Asia. The biggest thing is that there is way less people – almost nobody asking to buy something, rent a motobike, or .. “money?”. The other main reason i love this country is the mountains and clean air. Its kinda like Sapa .. but .. better.

Right now i’m Vang Vieng, a small backpacker town 4 hours north of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. We arrived in Vientiane on Saturday, spent a few days there, some in the rain, some with sun, all good fun. We checked out the Beer Lao Brewery – had the shortest brewery tour ever – only got to see the bottling section, about 5 mins. We also did a traditional Laos Weaving class – We got to dye some silk in Indigo, then spent the rest of the day weaving a pattern using a Loom. Looms are cool. Plus i just like to say the word … LOOM. Good name for a band. Anyway, I now have alot more respect for all hand weaved items. However, my favorite thing in Laos was the herbal sauna and massage. The herbal sauna is like a regular sauna with steam filling in a small room, but mixed with all kinds of herbs. I bet you never would have figured that out. Anyway, it left me feeling very invigorated. Alive. Then the massage made me relaxed. Alive and relaxed. Great combo.

Vietnam ended on a pretty good note – after Sapa we went to Hanoi and the famous Halong Bay. We only spent one night in Hanoi, checked out a water puppet show and had some tasty food. We took the 4 hour bus ride to Halong Bay and spent a night on one of the famous junk boats. It was gorgeous – the rock formations in the bay are quite unique, and there are hundreds of them. Sadly it is foggy 10 months out of the year, so you can’t see them all very clearly. We did get to go on one, inside a cool cave, kayak, swim, and do a little karaoke on the boat. Then we headed back to Hanoi, and the next day took a flight to Vientiane.

We just left Vientiane yesterday, so we plan on being here in Vang Vieng a few more days – need to do some tubing down the river and a bit more exploring. There is no rush, i’m enjoying the relaxed Laos vibe, friendly locals, beatiful countryside .. as well as the free wireless, the 50 cent mango shakes, $1 meals and beers. Then we head north to Luang Prabang, a day bus ride from here, then we’ll get into some more remote action in northern Laos. Then back to Thailand.