We spent a few days in Luang Prabang, wandering about the town, eating stuffed baguettes and even trying one of those crepes from a crepe stand swarmed by tourists. My previous post might have been a little bitter, and a bit unfair, but I stand by it: there is nothing to do or see in Luang Prabang. Sure, there is the Phouse Hill, the Wat on top of that and a view, then there are a few other Wats, and the Great Mekong, but honestly, that’s it, if you’re on a backpacker budget.
Our hotel, at 150k, was great. No screaming brits, hot water, a wonderful duvet… However, since this was, after all, Laos, we were woken up by discordant screams of Laotians trying to sing karaoke (tragic attempts indeed, for Laotians seem to be the least musical people on earth) or by roosters. Funny thing about roosters is, they aren’t synced. To anything. Ok, fine, so they start their howling around dawn, but with what a spread! They straddle the dawn with a goodly margin, two hours on the either side, with an occasional straggler choking out a strangled scream around noon. I, with my disdain for sleep and nerves of a dead cow, am pretty fine with being gradually introduced to reality at five AM, but girly takes it rather poorly. The worst thing is, I am the only thing at hand to snarl and claw at. So I deeply dislike the roosters and singing Laotians. Is that racist..?
Anyway, we had enough of Luang Prabang after what could be only called a two night honeymoon in an awesome bed with a great blanket. Sound insulation was finally good enough enough to, well, ahem. After those lovely, lovely nights, we were quite prepared to leave Luang Prabang behind. I think it cost us about 150k to get a ticket to Vientiane… And we were going on to Pakse and Ban Nakasang, from which we were going to catch a boat to Don Khone, one of the 4000 islands. And boy what a trip it was…
The way back over the mountains down to Vientiane was simple, the bus big and and the speeds fairly low, at least compared to the minibus that brought us to Luang Pabang. But alas, the bus was one of the low budget variety, with about as much space between the seats as on a RyanAir flight. God, the leg cramps… Then we were finally at Vientiane. We came to a different bus station, the Northern one, but even though it was supposed to be closer to town than the Southern one, we were still pretty fucking far from town. I don’t know what is wrong with Lonely Planet’s charts, but the bus stations seem to be at least five or six kilometers further away than on the 2012 charts. And not just according to the Tuk-Tuk drivers, either. Speaking of the Tuk-Tuk drivers, we boldly strolled out of the bus terminal, asking directions to town and followed by incredulous Tuk-Tuk drivers, screaming that it’s over 7km to town. My big toe was giving me hell, causing my whole right foot to swell, and that made my walk a hobble. But we walked out of there, and then, because my hobble was so slow, we decided to splurge on a Tuk Tuk. We paid 10k each to a guy on an almost dead Tuk Tuk outside the terminal, he must have been one of those losers who couldn’t afford a bribe to operate inside the terminal perimiter. And we were glad we did, cos the drive through the industrial area to town was at least thrice as long as the distance mentioned in Lonely Planet. And no, we weren’t “taken for a ride”.
While in Vientiane we had a breakfast at Croissant D’or, a great place, checked our mail with their speedy WiFi, and had a bunch of 8k croissants, best in all of Laos, according to many. Then we went off to have a sit and a look at the Mekong river embankment. That’s where I decided to take off my big toe blister patch. I’ve incured that blister on our epic 15km walk to the Blue Lagoon at Vang Vieng. I covered it with a blister patch, and left it alone, trusting my girly dearest. I left it alone for at least two days, but it kept getting more and more painful, the pain surging along with my hearbeat, whole foot throbbing. Somehow, almost without me notcing, my right food swelled to grotesque proportions. It made sleep difficult, but I thought that it was part of the deal. I tore off the patch, and off came part of the blister as well. The blister lost no time, it grew to about four times the size it was when I covered it. Pus and ichor flowed from the tear, with a bit of blood thrown into the mix. I doused the gaping wound with disinfectant, enjoying the clensing pain, and covered it with a new patch. It was time to go to the hospital.