Yours truly on the back of the hitched truck.
A bus, a break down, a flat bed truck (flagged down by Demi) ride, a crammed minibus, several landslide stoppages*, a flooded engine and a jumbo tuk tuk ride later, we arrived in Luang Prabang
. The nine of us chose various guest houses for the night and decided to meet up for breakfast the next day. Hiro decided to sleep in but the rest of us made an appearance; it was a nice way to say "see you!" to a group of people who had together been through a bizarre, tiring, and at times, highly amusing travel experience that seemed to last a whole lot longer than four days. Basically it helped me to wash Vietnam right out of my hair.
I spent the next few days recuperating in what is a small, touristy but breezily pleasant city with loads of temples, loads of monks, loads of market stalls and some really tasty baguettes.
The flatbed truck. Hiro (green t-shirt) giving us a thumbs up.
My hostel room was large but cursed with the grubbiest bathroom I've experienced in some time. This came complete with cracked plastic bath tub stained with the bodily residue of countless dossy backpackers, collected and congealed over generations. I still used it to shower in though - I'm just not that fussy - it was a kind of antique; lots of biological history involved.
Speaking of history - have I mentioned the historic delights of Luang Prabang? No? Well bless my soul - there's some really good historical stuff in Luang Prabang, like... well... The royal palace museum which is the old home of the royals before they were carted off to a sticky end somewhere over in the east of the country back in the 60s (but we don't like to talk about that). S'quite a nice museum.
Dragging a smaller van out of the sticky mud at the side of the road.
Oh and temples - lots of temples. Do you like temples? Do you? Yes? Well you should definitely go to Luang Prabang 'cause there are loads of 'em there. I didn't go to any of them 'cause it's not really my bag but you should go so I don't feel so bad about not going. If you know what I mean.
I drank a lot of Beer Lao instead - it's dead nice. And spoke to some nice Lao people - there are a lot of those about in Lao. So even if you don't like temples you can still relax and enjoy yourself in Luang Prabang. Which is what I did. yes. So erm, see you next time then for more incisive travel blogging with cultural facts and other valuable stuff!
*At my favourite stoppage we arrived just after a bulldozer had cleared a passage through a wide swathe of soil that had slid down over the road.
The team breakfasting minus Hiro. L-R: Ken, Ophelie, Antoine, Nok, Demi, Javi and Naomi.
One truck got through, but a second got firmly stuck, wheels spinning wildly but only succeeding in digging the vehicle further into the soft shifted soil. Clearly there was some disagreement between the drivers of the bulldozer and the truck. God knows what they argued about, but the result was that the bulldozer took 20 minutes digging a whole new passage for all the other traffic to use, leaving the truck as a lonely stick in the mud. Basically it was a great illustration of the universal law of size that goes: "Sod you pal - I'm the one in the high-powered yellow JCB, get cheeky with me and you'll stay right where you are."