Following Activities Day, I woke up aching in places I don’t even want to think about! I knew I would, but jeez. And we were to spend the best part of the day on a minibus. The journey to Luang Prabang was long and bumpy, and though the views were stunning, it didn’t stop some of us feeling travel sick. By this time, we were into our third week together and we had been so lucky that we didn’t have anyone who suffered from severe travel sickness. Those that did always sat near the front, took anti-motion sickness pills and tried to sleep as much as possible, but this journey was something else. I haven’t been sick whilst travelling since I was maybe five years old, and I was finding it difficult to drop off over the bumps. Seriously, this minibus needed some new suspension!
Anyway, our route was something of the scenic sort, which was more “over” the mountain than “around” it, but that didn’t stop half-hearted renditions of “She’ll be coming round the mountain” every time we went round a bend. We stopped for lunch at what was something of a service station, and even though the food took ages to arrive, it was damn tasty. I ordered fried chicken noodles with extra ginger and it was good. And cheap, naturally.
Our next stop was almost at the top of the mountain, and though it was a little foggy, with some minor light/shadow editing on my trusty iPhone, I had some okay shots ready for a Facebook upload next time we got a wifi connection.
We arrived in Luang Prabang in the mid-late afternoon ready to climb Phousi Hill for the sunset view. If I’d have known it was such a major tourist attraction, I might have not bothered at all. There were an extraordinary number of steps to the top, according to google, it’s 100m tall with 328 steps to the top. It felt like more, for sure. I’m not going to lie, when we got to the top and saw the sea of tourists, I caught the eye of one of the girls I’d walked up with and we simultaneously turned around and decided to get a head-start on the way down. We stopped off to check out the tiny little Wat, and then began the descent to the night market at the foot of the stairs. I did manage to get a sunset shot from halfway down the mountain though, which was good.
There was a lot of confusion as to where we were to meet everyone and our CEO after the sunset. All of us who had climbed the hill managed to find each other, but we couldn’t find anyone else, and it was getting close to dinner time. I guess one good thing was that I managed to haggle the price of a scarf down from 100,000 to 50,000 LaoKip. We went to a tiny little street food market where you paid for a bowl and you could fill it with whatever veggies and rice/noodles. It had the opportunity to be an awesome meal, but I picked wrong and was just ready for a drink somewhere.
We’d found out about a place which boasted a super chilled vibe with floor cushions and easy listening music and cheap drinks, so off we went in search of this bar called Utopia. It was not the easiest place to find, navigating through very residential looking areas, and whenever one of us voiced the opinion that we must be going the wrong way, another sign appeared pointing us further along our journey. When we turned the final corner, Utopia literally materialised in front of us. It was as we had imagined, yet completely out of place all at the same time. It also brought out the feminine side of the guys who came with us… it was funny because I ordered a cider, the other girl who was with us ordered a beer, and the guys both had cocktails. The waitress was a little bit weirded out when she delivered our drinks! The place was great, lounging about on the floor, until a dog turned up, sat in the middle of our little group and I discovered that I not only disliked our canine friends, but I was quietly terrified of them. And I was allergic too. I hadn’t spent a lot of time with dogs to know for sure, but after that night, I added it to the list – cats, rabbits, dust and pollen. I will always keep OTC antihistamines on me from now on!
It was a drunken stumble back to the hotel that night. Unfortunately, all the roads kind of looked the same, and I think we might have lost a couple of people to another bar along the way… in any case, I was woken up maybe 45 minutes after I’d dropped off to sleep by the simultaneous whooping and shushing when they arrived back later.