Yesterday I got up at 5.30am to see the monks walking down the main road, getting their alms (is that how you spell it?), then heading on the trek. In the evening I bought a duvet cover (yes, excatly, but hey it was fab, hand made, and $15, AND my sister was taking it wither her ;->). This is one of the things I find hard when moving around – it’s the main time I buy anything at all for my flat, and I see loads of handicrafts I’d like back home, but this time I’m not heading back in a few days so I just can’t do that.
Luang Prabang is also a handy place to get a visa for onward travel if you are in SE Asia, and hanging around for a few days. Visas for Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand can be arranged, sometimes withing a day, but often going via Vientiene. By the sounds of it, Luang Prabang is a better place to hang around while someone stamps your visa. I arrived too late to put my passport in last night, and had several options for where I went next, so I decided to hang around another day… here were my otions :
– head to Nong Khiaw just north of here with my sister – a planned destination, but it’s not the best route for me
– wait for a day and head to Phonsavan (Plain of Jars) with Luc I met in Myanmar, then head to Vieng Xai myself near the Vietnamese border, then back to Luang Prabang via NOng Khiaw
– wait for a day and head up to Luang Nam Tha with another Irish girl Claire, and two scottish blokes she’s travelling with just now
– or hire a bike for a week and do the trip myself (tempting if I Knew nothing was going to go wrong!)
– bugger everything, stay here and speak to the Red Cross
I could quite easily find myself here in a few weeks deliberating, and still not quite being ready to pack my bags and move on. Despite this, I handed in my passport to get me visas, and bought my bus ticket to Phonsavan leaving tomorrow (1st Nov) – maybe on my own, or with Luc. The $175 US for a week’s bike hire was fighting to stay in my wallet – far more expensive, but would mean I would have the joys of travelling on more roads the Lonely Planet said to be careful about, and be free to go at my own pace, without bumping around for days on public buses, and be constricted by their timings. I’ll head back via Luang Prabang in a week or so to collect my passport.
Another big thing is nagging my head too. I headed to Luang Prabang in a hurry to see my sister, and overlooked a place called The Gibbon Experience, which I’ve heard great things about – three days dangling from suspended cables, staying in tree houses, while looking for wildlife. Unfortunately it’s back by the Thai border, meaning two days there and two days back, on the frickin’ boat again. I’mkeen to go!
All this is without even considering how long it will take to get down through souther Laos….I can feel a flight coming on and having to miss out this section!
As it turns out, my Myanmar companion Luc just strolled up to my while I sit on the riverbank typing this (no wifi tho!) and he is hanging around for an extra day to get his Vietnam visa…another lesson in waiting around to see what others are doing!!! It’s Phonsovan on my own tomorrow.