Wow, I can’t believe my time in Laos is coming to an end! It’s felt like so much longer than 10 days! You know, most of the other backpackers I’ve encountered were doing large trips of the whole region over a span of several months (did I tell you about the Swiss couple who was bicycling through Asia…going all through China, Tibet, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, all on bikes over a span of 6 months!) which would be really nice to do some day (that is the long trip, not the bicycling!).
Anyways, today I ventured out to the Pak Ou caves…these two caves in a limestone cliff along the Mekong River that are totally crammed full of Buddha images. One of them has the sun streaming in and is fully visible and quite impressive. The other is further up and much deeper…no sunlight gets in and you need a flashlight to see, there’s no electric lights. I was much more impressed with the first one, mainly because of the fact that it was so difficult to see the second one! Even with a flashlight. It was cool though, there were some drawings on the walls of the cave…no idea how old they are.
On the way we stopped in two villages…kind of like yesterday, though I wasn’t nearly as discussed with the affair as I was yesterday. The first was a village where they make Lao-Lao…a rice “whisky,” which I tried much earlier in my trip (pretty nasty…tastes like moldy rice). They call it whisky but it’s not whisky by the traditional definition (whatever that is)….I believe they throw a bunch of different fermented things in there. Anyways we were also able to sample both red and white rice wine (similar to Sake) which were pretty good. It was also very cheap ($1 for a small…flask like bottle) though I didn’t buy any. On the return trip we stopped at a village where they were making paper and weaving. Some of the cloths were stunning (and very expensive…the nice ones being US$150, as they took a month to weave).
On the boat I talked a lot with a guy from Belgium and another from Holland. They invited me to lunch with them and a Thai girl the Dutch guy was travelling with. We asked her to pick out the food and we ended up with 5 dishes, some Beerlao, and finished with Lao coffee (yes I did have some….with lots and lots of milk and sugar!). One of the items was a Thai soup…remember in Thai soups you don’t actually eat everything…many things are in solely for flavoring. Anyways I got a very very strong chilly did eat it and boy oh boy was it hot. I couldn’t even talk it burned so badly! It took a good 5 mins before I could eat anything again!
That was pretty much all for today…the boat trip to the caves went all morning and then lunch took a while as well. The good news is that cold-wise I am feeling much better. Yesterday I was having a lot of trouble breathing (my inhaler was no help) and I was coughing up a storm. Today my breathing is fine and I’m coughing very little! Maybe this is just a cold after all!
Tomorrow afternoon I fly back to Bangkok. I stopped by the Bangkok Airways office here today to reconfirm my flight. It hasn’t really rained much at all in the past few days…a little overnight but that’s about it. There was a thunderstorm last night and power went off a couple of times…it was funny…I was in the night market and the power went and everyone gasped….when it came back on everyone cheered! Then the whole sequence happened again! It’s also kind of odd because I’ve been encountering some people I saw earlier in my trip elsewhere here in Luang Prabang, like Yuko, the Japanese lady I travelled with to Luang Nam Tha! I ran into her in a cafe this afternoon!
Anyways, that’s about all for now…and from the Lao PDR (Lao People’s Democtratic Republic, as it is officially called). It’s sad that this is coming to an end as I am having a fantastic time!!