Northern Thailand and Laos
17.01.2012 - 10.02.2012 26 °C
Continuing on from my last entry myself and Dutch Nienke arrived into Bangkok having surprisingly had a good rest about 7.30am and ignored the taxi touts as we past Koh San Road and onto Ram Bhuttri and picked out a nice looking place for omelette baguettes. As it was also a hotel we took a look at a cheap 200 baht room and felt it was good/safe enough for a night. I spent time speaking to travel agents about how to get to places on various forms of transport on the infamous backpacker road which was much smaller than I imagined but still manic and a million things happening at once.
She led us to the boat (15 baht) to go south on Chao Phraya River where we went south a few stops, seeing some of the city and the many boats on the water. We got off and walked to the entrance of the Royal Palace but ultimately didn’t go inside as too costly despite me putting long trousers and a shirt! In the heat we walked to Wat Phao to see the 47 metre long reclining Buddha (impressive) then went east away from tourists and apparently into places unknown as the map didn’t correlate with the signs (really not surprised). We had chicken strips and rice then used the internet for a remarkably cheap 15 baht and hour as the sky was darkening quite quickly. After seeing the Democracy Monument we drank some large Chang’s near the hotel people watching, relaxed and ended up on Koh San Road drinking buckets till 3am.
Although missing my alarm i fortunately still woke up at 7.10am, threw on clothes and rushed out the door to meet Machelle at McDonald’s and get a taxi to the train station, Hualamphong. The 8.30am Chiang Mai bound train left on time (seated by two monks who had a set of brand new Tesco brand camping equipment) and I read ‘Into the Wild’ most of the way. In Phinsanolok at 2pm we got a tuk tuk and local bus to Sukhotai then a truck to the hotel a man was promoting at the station. It proved a good decision as central location, nice people and huge room with all amenities. In the evening we looked at the food stalls lining the road the other side of the bridge, sat at one for ok Pad Thai then decided to go to where the music was coming from, chancing upon a festival/fair with shows, games, random food of all sorts and zero white people. We had a cocktail at Choppers Bar then went back for sleep about 12.30am.
We were up at 5.30am and on a truck within half an hour in the freezing cold (sides open) for the trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site! Unlike most historical places I have been we were the very first tourists of the day and coincidentally it was the founder of the Thai language, King Ramkhamhaeng’s, birthday so hundred’s of monks occupied his monument chanting and praying making for quite the sight. Once past the celebrations we had the whole place to ourselves and it was as much about the ruins as the beautiful very peaceful parkland that encompasses them; in early morning light and with the lakes providing pristine reflections it was incredible. We walked around all the central temples and their many statues including the island of Wat Trapang Ngoen and khmer influenced Sri Sawai leaving the main palace complex, Wat Machathat, till last when the coach loads were just arriving.
We collected our things and took a double decker bus to Chiang Mai which took 5 hours meaning could finish my book and discuss with Shell what our next moves should be. At the entrance to the old city, Tha Pae Gate, we got a slice at Paradise Pizza as she struggled for accommodation and when I found her somewhere over the road we parted ways as I went to nearby Little Bird- not nice. Here I met Amy (been here a few days), showered and chilled with a group downstairs and bought some beers before meeting them at Reggae Bar. The place was a full on sausage fest and when gay Carlo from the hostel propositioned me it was time to leave to not much better Babylon where stayed till 4am with people from Ireland and Canada.
Once Amy had woken me and we figured out our options we had a huge bowl of fruit/yoghurt/muesli in the market for 50 baht then slowly meandered south stopping at a boots, second hand book stores (bought some good ones), the fish pond (can feed them and quite big) and some fountains. After some club sandwiches we looked in a tribal shop, saw the semi collapsed Wat Cledi Luang (held the emerald Buddha till an earthquake centuries ago), spoke to a monk about his education and reasons for becoming one, got really hot and as pretty stressed/depressed Amy bought me the first real Cheddar Cheese have had since home!
At Little Bird I changed to a smaller non ensuite room (no choice), used wifi to book some future flights and sat outside drinking and playing cards till 11pm. Upon seeing Shell with some dick at the bars I proceeded to nigh on chug my strong bucket, torpedo a beer and do some Jagerbombs which inevitably led to me being very very drunk! Apparently I slid down a door then Amy and two London guys we met put me in a tuk tuk and at the hostel she placed me in the recovery position, took out all my valuables and left me a note to read when conscious- oops!
Not feeling too perky I slept a brief amount of time on my actual bed and woke up to find my roommate, classy Chloe, had wet herself as had also had a heavy night! There was a 3 hour wait at the bus station so lay on my bags the entire time with Amy taking good care of me. Seated at the back of the cramped minibus for what we knew was going to be a hellish journey was not good at all but I just about kept my composure for the hundreds of mountainous curves that took over three hours to get through. In the quite beautiful town of Pai we made our way the 15 minutes to Spicy Pai set by a field in a rural setting (three subtle wooden/bamboo buildings making for a great first impression) and in the cavernous very open dorm (beds various heights linked by many ladders) we spoke to three Norwegians, attempted more sleep and ate good curries and a burger at Yellow Sun. Late afternoon I got blasted by the freezing shower then chilled in the common area with beer then got involved in a long poker game set up by 42 yr old Gypsy john from Manchester. I came 3rd out of the 8 playing and in the process got speaking to a really sound guy from California, surfer dude Mike, who would end up spending the next 3 weeks with! It got very cold indeed and as still tired I went to bed but had to sleep in my jeans, jumper, hat and with two blankets on top of me just to feel a little bit of warmth- not what am used to.
At 8.30am I had toast, sat in the fresh morning air, played Frisbee over the volleyball net with Mike and, along with Amy and Quebec Matt went to town to hire some good Trek mountain bikes from Big Little Cafe (100 baht for 24hr). Away from town and into the hills we went taking a track into the wilderness with views extending over lush valleys, huts and farmland which got the muscles going. Past barking dogs and locals giving us weird looks the road deteriorated making us cross many streams (some seated some not) until we locked the bikes together and continued on foot and over rocks to the small but strong/untainted/majestic Hua Chang waterfall where put our heads under it and Mike put mud all over himself Predator style. It may have taken over three hours to reach our destination but it took less than two to return to Spicy (hurt foot twice on a cliff and pedal). We ate at Yellow Sun, bought an awesome colourful woolly hat from the nightly street market, smoked some joints on the floor of the dorm, sat by the hot fire with most of the other guests and along with Trina borrowed Aussie Mitch’s scooter to get food from both 7/11’s (as you do) before using my laptop and sleeping by 1am.
Wanting to make the most of our bikes we rode the ‘short’ distance to the WW2 Memorial Bridge but in fact it was 15km each way on the main road over many hills making for a much needed but unwanted workout. At the cafe we ordered giant hash brown English breakfasts with Charlie and Jazz then spent the afternoon lazing by the pool at Fluid (cold water but refreshing) with the Norwegians (played first game of Uno). I wrote in my journal then at 5.30pm had my first warm shower here and in a group of 8 walked to The Steak House for a 120 baht meal with me and Catrina sharing a Mojito bucket. The girls got fresh waffles then as not much happening at Spicy I persuaded a drunk Charlie to lend a tipsy me his scooter to scout out the bars and go ‘fishing’. I lost him at the Rasta Bar when with Brits Laura and Emma, popped into Bamboo next door and not too late went home.
As soon as we were awake we had a good Frisbee session with Canadian Jared and got a lift to town to hire out our own scooters as all insurance included which is unheard of in Asia. I had a cute 100cc pink automatic, ‘Pink Pony’, and Mike a 125cc yellow semi called ‘Mustard Machine’. We put together a group to ride the 6km to Thom’s Elephant Camp where we did a 90 minute tour on three of the beasts- on biggest one with Mike/Jared with Amy/Ari and Mani/Victor on the other two. Sitting on the head was prime as the guys had all the shoulder and back movement going straight through them as we moved along the road carefully following the long haired mahout (funny guy and clearly the head honcho), stopping every now and again because of dogs and vegetation (food). At the Treehouse Resort we manoeuvred down towards the river and when in the waist deep water had an awesome time getting thrown off the animals, being splashed, launching ourselves off their heads and on occasion emerging to see all three of them tower over you quite scarily. I lost sunnies, shit floated about and had middle bitch seat on way back but all good as was heaps of fun. At Spicy we sat with a beer swapping photos watching the sun set before dinner and Sangsom drinking with everyone else as flip cup didn’t really take off. At the bars I was chatting to Mani and Catrina mainly then later on went off with the Norwegian for a random ride then struggled to keep us both warm in the dorm.
Boat and bus tickets into Laos were bought at Aya travel the next morning (San Fran Ari asking a million questions) then had a very healthy and delicious mango/yoghurt/honey smoothie and a literally bone cracking and well needed back/neck/shoulder massage (200 baht) beside the others. I made it to the Fluid pool party at 3pm to see an amazing array of girls strutting about in bikinis, had a tequila sunrise and spoke to the Brits as Machelle invariably turned up to make things just slightly weird as attempted to completely ignore each other the whole time. Me and Ari got foiled by the no booze in 7/11 till 5pm law but later achieved our goal, ate with Jazz and upon seeing the party now much quieter did a totti run with Mike, picking up two Canadians, but screwing up by talking about past conquests in front of them.
The constant slow pace and lack of motivation from anyone to do anything was getting to Mike once our routine frisbee throwing was over so as he went for a ride I wrote and listened to Ari constantly deliberate her movements then packed my waterproof bag, bought three day Reggae Fest tickets off the official promoter in town for a discounted price and ate food at Hong Beer as listed in the guide books and busiest place in town (pay 80 baht, pick 4 things to go with rice plus a water then sit down enjoying every mouthful). On two bikes we fit 4 girls on the Mustard Machine and Pink Pony to go to the Mor Phoeng Waterfall a few km to the west past weed and opium sellers. Finding most of the hostel to be scattered around the area on various levels Mike got naked and jumped into one of the pools and struggled to hide his manhood when climbing up to walk back then I lost my balance sliding to the bottom one and gravity took its course getting me there in one piece luckily (cracking video). I very nearly took the wrong bike upon leaving and at Spicy hung out with Ari till took her to the bus once ate the most amazing pumpkin spring rolls, waffles and pumpkin and pork curry from different people.
At Edible Jazz along with Mike and the hot Brummies we listened to live music then sat by a fire with legend Shaun and the Kiwi until bought Samsung to make an already strong bucket extra potent; was with the crazy guys in the blue and pink suits who are not allowed to take them off for anything as part of one fucked up bet that lasted almost 3 weeks and ended with one having the others face tattooed on his arse (amazing). In celebration of Australia Day we partied at another bar (Dutch cougar tried coming on to me- no thankyou) then found Shell in a trance poking the dying fire in a vain attempt to get warm so offered my services as ‘big spoon’ as already 4am- impossible to not be around her.
It was now my turn to be frustrated at doing nothing and was in a funny mood all morning riding around town aimlessly, laying by the pool for an hour and when ready to go again happened to put the stand of my bike through the end of my big toe (only scooter injury I received in Asia and wasn’t even sitting on it). Shaun put antiseptic on and bandaged it up (so painful) as Mike returned with the suits and their prized fighting Cockerel they had just bought (fought the next day and lost easily). A number of us pre drank beer and whisky before taking a free shuttle to the outskirts and up a 3km dirt track to the Reggae Festival entrance where to our combined shock there was a mere couple hundred people about and techno music playing! Things soon changed to the genre we came for and our group made its own fun with sneaked in alcohol. I had a good time and chatted to countless randoms including a gorgeous pint sized surf instructor from California, Shea, who joined back to her hotel once things had rapidly died down after midnight; being not cold for a night was a blessing.
A band practising outside woke us up mid morning so got up, ate in town with her friend Crystal and at the pool got talking to young Aussie Ollie about my various car problems in his country. In the evening a number of us went to Buffalo for the Liverpool vs United FA cup game and the plan was to stay in town but after arguing with Shell I rode me and Ollie to the festival where he bought me a bucket or two as got him in for free. Later on when hunting for food up the slope I came across a wasted Ollie who fell right onto a food table then again into a fire somehow avoiding getting burnt. Although drunk myself I put him on my bike and in the bitter cold made it to the track by the hostel in one piece but found the loose material and veered off into a wet and muddy ditch soaking us both (bike undamaged) as we laughed our heads off at 5am probably waking people up.
I rose to see Mike arriving back in just his purple Toucan boxers after a Dutch threesome (fair play) then ate at the Wishing Well with Shell before seeing her off in a minibus at 2.50pm. It was my last night in lovely, amazing Pai (like Byron but with no beach) and so made use of the bike, mingled with newbie’s (Grant being a weirdo as always), did usual walking street food sampling and had Sangsom before a few of us on scooters headed up for the last night of Reggae music having a ball with everyone being there together the first couple hours. I watched Mike deteriorate into oblivion in the best way possible, succeeding in kissing 20 girls, as I fell asleep standing up and when back to life met Brits Laura and Emma then mutually agreed with Ollie it was a good time to go as not feeling it.
It was nice waking up when my body felt like it as listened to the goings on around me and contemplating how much of a good time have had in this town. My clothes and everything else was scattered around as I tried putting it all together, paid the tab for room and drink (1500 baht) and along with Mike went for a full hour solid burn into the hills; nothing like being on two wheels and think will do my license when home. We got our deposits back, ate at Nang Beer (5 choices) and really didn’t enjoy the ‘trek’ to Spicy (two legs sucks) where wrote in journal and in the common area looked at flights/trains for Europe despite having a million other things to do that were way more important. Amazingly the others helped out with taking me, Amy, Mike and Mani to the bus stop along with all our stuff on their bikes then once had my favourite spring rolls, grasshoppers, a kebab, northern style curry and bought postcards/souvenirs/rolling stones singlet we boarded the bus to Chang Khong. When we arrived at 3am we instantly split up into rooms and slept (ant infested bathroom and rock solid bed didn’t matter).
In the middle of a good dream it was time to get up and go at 7.15am for the drawn out process of leaving Thailand and entering Laos, which was the other side of the Mekong River; chaotic but straightforward. We met up with Ari, had a salad baguette and were soon at the pier for another wait before being some of the last people on the long boats. Luckily we moved to another boat, to get seats together, and enjoyed the multiple hour adventure with alcohol looking at all the goings on at the river bank (significant poverty obvious) and interesting rocks and cliffs, spoke to a music videographer (same camera as me just amazing lenses) and wrote in my journal as others slept. Bags were started to be bought up from the depths of the boat signalling we were near to Pakbang but it took a few manoeuvres and pushing two other water craft aside to squeeze to shore at 6.20pm where the now dozen of us went to Hotel Serika to pair up. Mike’s half full bottle of Sangsom had broke in his bag but he got over that quickly when burst into my room with a barbequed small bird and promptly ripped the head off Ozzy style much to Ari and Spanish Elisabeth’s horror; had consolation prize of the feet. With a limited number of options for food we chose the one with most people (all white) for Lao beer and Buffalo Curry and playfully picking up and passing an energetic, young and nippy puppy around. Wanting to make the most of this one horse town we went to the only open bar, had free shots and sat down with a group of girls on an organised tour for a ‘questions and lighter’ game (random). We walked them home, bumped into an opium smoking New Orleans guy and went to the hotel.
Amy was prepared and made sure we had the best seats facing each other for the second long day on the slow boat and also meant we got talking to Melbournites Bridget and Lisa who would spend rest of Laos with which helped pass the time. At last in Luang Prabang (very full with locals made to stand near hot engine at back) with a group of 9 that all got on well we went past French colonial buildings and through the narrow never ending market in search for a hotel, chancing upon one with no name but had 4 of the 5 rooms available for 75k pp (about 9 dollars) each. At the ‘food alley’ for only 10k we could fill one plate as much as possible (except meat) proving quite the balancing act but chopsticks frustrated me so much that Mani found me a fork before I spat the dummy. Due to town wide curfews the place to be late is the bowling alley a tuk tuk ride away so played some games, drank cheap whisky and had a blast with the Norwegians from Pai also being there; lost to Jeff first of all then redeemed myself in a rematch.
I had a lie in then, armed with cash and camera, joined the others to That Chomsi Hill and climbed up in the high humidity for a 180 degree view then peered into the dilapidated Pa Houak temple, tried getting Red Cross help for Mike’s heavily infected and swollen feet (not what we hoped for) and all famished ate very filling and scrumptious food at the not so ‘Ancient Cafe; group bills/decision making driving me insane. I visited the overpriced but ok Royal Palace Complex, tacky gold painted temple and with the heat getting to me and Jeff we went to our place to literally chill (Mike been there whole day with a/c on full blast). After another mountainous plate of food I bought a chain for my shark tooth, silk cloth and another singlet then had cocktails at the trendy Hive and another visit to the infamous bowling alley with my night ending in a shouting match with Ari and me smashing a beer on the floor and storming off with Bridget and Mike trailing in my wake!
To my disbelief she had the audacity to wake me up and borrow my laptop so just handed it her as me and Mike had very manly Mocha Frappe’s then at 11.30am got transportation to the beautiful, serene, turquoise and stepped Kwang Si waterfalls which I roamed all over, hiked to the top of the main one and then spent an hour with Bridget, Lisa, Amy, Mani, Jeff, Elisabeth and Mike using the rope swing (Amy was a bit of a wimp and caused a hold up when too scared) and avoiding being in the water that long (little fish biting open cuts- my feet has enough).
For dinner we visited a fondue place across the black river via a lit up narrow rope bridge (cook ingredients yourself on stoves in the table) for something different then made a quick exit away from Ari to Utopia to discuss our mutual dislike for the girl over some beers then had a rare early night in preparation for VV and Mr Brennan (currently on 22 hour bus from Bangkok).
I caught up on journal when awake (to avoid needing to do it next few days),saw monks taking offerings outside, got money out (only 1 million- not enough) and sat in the sun awaiting the heavily delayed pick up that had been arranged. Along with two British girls were told to fit into a cramped minibus parked by someone’s house/construction site and by 9.30am we were out of town on an unsealed dirt road (work in progress) that was constantly bumpy making the inside claustrophobic and very uncomfortable when the temperature increased. The route soon became a mountain pass hugging the contours and offering spectacular views (valleys, no flat land, scattered poor settlements and everything very green) to take our mind off things. At the scenic lunch stop we narrowly avoided going over the edge on a log we tried getting a group picture on (not fixed in!) and unfairly had to wait a full 80 minutes for our driver before reaching the dusty ghost town of Vang Vieng at 3.27pm- lost out to Mike on betting the time by a single minute!
Wanting to be on our own we left the others for Vieng Vilay GH and a large room with two bathrooms, two double beds and an archway semi separating them on the ground floor for only 50k a night for both of us- Winning! We bought our own lock to make it safe, used wifi and walked around questioning where all the people were- not good first impression but the outlying scenery looked lovely. Inevitably we bumped into the others, minus Ari, so ate French bread pizza together and embraced JB on the street as not seen him since October (with friend B-Lo). Now a devastating foursome we conjured up our own buckets then partied at Bucket Bar as Mani hooked me up with her fake boobed friend Laura meaning a swift exit to the room; Mike came in for a second and left to stay at the others hotel (haha).
When she left at 10am we bought colourful singlets, cheap sunglasses, big unhealthy baguettes, a not so waterproof bag for cash/cigarettes/protection and stuff to make drinks for a day at the river doing anything but relaxing! At the quietish first bar I met 4 girls from Jersey (all posh), played beer pong games on the deck by the water, laid a solid Lao beer and free shot foundation then got on the buckets in Star Bar with the straw rarely being out of my mouth. I cooled under the water hose, joined a whisky train or two and sat on a table in the river with everyone till jumped on top of Amy’s tube for a free ride across to Mojito Bar (didn’t need own one) which was the place to be. Our group congregated where there was space and free booze by the 20 foot high zip line which we of course all used, including Amy. All in an amazingly happy mood alot of kissing was going on then when a chill set in and some left I hung with Shell (a day ahead of me as ever) and she joined me to mine after standing out the back of a tuk tuk as that full.
Following an ultra potent mushroom bucket with Italian Claudio and South African Danny at Smile Bar I was in my own little world and unable to string a decent sentence together (Olga here now) but stayed out till close bringing to an end one of the best party days ever that kicks springs breaks ass!
As Mike rented a scooter to clear his head I stayed with people at the hotel, ate a baguette and made buckets for a second day on the river of awesomeness at 1pm with JB. We got into the swing of things alongside Bridget/Lisa/Amy/Mani/Jeff on the water tables, pulled a hot scot as was her birthday, lost a thong and also a bucket due to Lisa being quite clumsy, wrote stuff on each other with pen (‘Vibe Protection!’) and I waded across to Mojito. The following hour or two were up there with the best of my life as we all danced crazily to great tunes under the still hot sun, picked each other up, took dozens of photos and were in our own little bubble. When some dispersed further downstream and didn’t come back me and Laura watched as Amy scaled the widest point in search unnecessarily worried, stayed till 6.45pm and in town offered the services of my shower despite her place being around the corner- gentlemen thing to do of course. For the second time in a row I was late for free buckets at Smile then me and the Californian tried chasing possible leads before giving up and hanging with some aussies who were off in the morning. I did a memorable slow dance with Bridget to Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ (big contrast to the madness all around) then witnessed Mike going all primeval and animalistic and a high Mani trying to keep her composure before seeing off the Melbourne girls and Jeff bringing to an end one awesome group.
In the morning we did exceedingly little and deliberated for hours what to do so once sat at a Family Guy Cafe organised transport for me, Mani, Olga and Amy to a big cave you could venture deep inside (no paths or barriers) and a pleasant swimming hole full of people (needed a day off the madness of tubing but in hindsight should of stopped being a pussy and gone). I sorted out Vietnam stuff and packed then attempted to go for a semi nice meal but inevitably had street baguettes for the umpteenth time then me and Mike polished off a bottle of Whisky in less than an hour; JB and B-Lo came back from tubing inoperable not to be heard from again that night. Being eager we made full sure the free bucket was not missed, wasted a good hour talking to two Essex girls who went to bed early and I left with gorgeous French Canadian Kim who spoke to me once Mike had tried and failed (Rolling Stones singlet working its magic yet again).
With only minutes to be at the travel agency I flew out the door and hugged Mike just as we were on our way out of town bringing to an end a journey that will long live in my memory as he is one of the soundest individuals I have met on my travels (now has a scholarship to Berkeley to do Archaeology masters- genius). At the back of a small minibus with John we listened to my iPod through his splitter, sat patiently through electrical problems (causing a prolonged stop miles from anywhere) and wondered what we were doing when made it to Soviet era Phonsavan at 5pm. Like most towns the damn bus station was nowhere near the area we needed to be in so had a long walk looking for Kong Kea hostel (asked the odd white person directions) and had last two bungalows for 6 of us; me, JB and B-Lo sharing a ‘mega bed’ (two large singles joined together). We discussed tour options then at the MAG Information Centre watched a documentary on the work the bomb disposal crews do in the remote villages (Americans dropped 2 million tonnes of bombs during Vietnam War achieving next to nothing) and found out one of the main donators is JOA (Jersey Overseas Aid) making me very proud. We used the internet, ate crappy tasteless food (worst country in Asia in culinary terms) and after going back in the cold wrote in journal and heard two dogs really going at each other quite scarily outside (was a full moon!) just as went to bed.
I stayed in my sleeping bag as long as I could with my wolly hat on then along with the rest went to the pickup point on the road only to be stuck in the battered old van a while driving about town wasting time (organised trips suck). We stopped at a ‘whisky village’ where the most interesting thing was some piglets scurrying around then after passing some quite interesting bomb craters went to a quite obscure one by a farm improving my irritable mood greatly. Lunch was just plain bad and I didn’t bother finishing it then finally we saw Site 2 of the Plain of Jars up a path on top of a hill amongst trees with no others about; quite interesting and able to take good shots including an intimidating black spider.
Led by our tipsy guide he kept telling us to slow our tame pace down as we hiked 40 minutes along a ridge for views of the entire area (tired imagining the B52’s above raining bombs everywhere) under the hot sun towards site 3 which was reached over fields- the jars were already becoming a bit same same. At a rusty old shell of a tank I ignored my guide and went over to a female MAG team who were preparing to diffuse some ornaments in the area- really cool and best part of the day. At the biggest Site 1 closest to town half the guys didn’t bother going in but me and Amy still had a look around following the path then upon us asking to see a Hmong Village the driver took the piss and dropped us on the road to walk a few hundred metres by some huts then get back in the van (argh!). In Phonsavan we used wifi, had a burger and chips (only good food is western) and at the bus station me and JB thought we were clever by picking the very front seats on the top level as unlimited leg room but clearly forgot how bad the roads are so were rolling around with no support under the cold air in a vain attempt to sleep; using laptop gave me a headache so just listened to music and got some shut eye by 3.30am.
Somehow I think I had 2-3 hours lying in a semi-foetal, head on cushion by the window, back against John with legs on my backpack position as we pulled in and negotiated the touts down to a respectable 50k to Vientiane city centre. Here the girls looked for a place to stay (Amy booked different flight to us accidentally and Mani going south), changed money, ate yet more baguettes, did journal and tried figuring out an exit plan for young B-Lo who literally didn’t have a clue and had zero cash so couldn’t go anywhere. I did blog stuff for many hours then had good sweet and sour chicken and left with John to the surprisingly big and modern airport where many Asian businessmen were in their suits (represented a sign of increasing prosperity in the country in my eyes). I used my last 10,000 Kip for an energy drink and boarded the plane for Hanoi, Vietnam which is where this entry will conclude.