Today is our last day in Laos. We fly to Hanoi, Vietnam this evening and we're pretty damn excited about it.
Laos has been a bit of an odd one. We started off in Luang Prabang which was not too dissimilar to Chiang Mai. A few nice temples, very nice locals and a ruddy good market too. Venturing south to Vang Vieng gave us a good contrast. We stayed in the most beautiful location overlooking the karsts (big rocks - it's a geography thing) from our charming little balcony.
Good first impression. The issue with Vang Vieng was that as soon as you walked into the 'centre', it lost all charm and beauty. The town is best-known for the tubing craze which started a while back. Essentially tourists pay to sit in a rubber ring and partake in a sort of pub crawl (or float). We declined to do so and instead chose to explore some caves and the blue lagoon - after a horrendously bumpy bike ride on some bikes that had clearly last been used by Joan of Arc. We ended up staying 4 nights here as a lot of the people we spoke to said that Vientiane (our next stop was not that thrilling).
They were right. It has been an enjoyable 3 nights we've spent here but it's definitely not been the nicest place we've visited so far. An average city. 3 out of 5 stars.
And so having sat in a cafe yesterday and written a list of things we'll be doing in Hanoi - including water puppetry, a visit to Halong Bay and a place called Fanny's Ice Cream (snigger snigger) - we are pretty pumped for 'nam.
Here are a few more traveller-y things I've learnt:
1. Taking a wrong turn pays off. We have stumbled upon some really cool things completely by accident - including a cave akin to something from Raiders of the Lost Ark containing a Buddha with a hole through it's heart, and a parade through the centre of Luang Prabang with the country's most sacred Buddha image to celebrate Laos New Year.
2. If a fellow traveller seems to be spending a long time in the toilet, so be it. Let them. We're all in this together. We're here for you bud. You simply avoid eye contact with them when they leave and choose the next cubicle.
3. Irish bars are the exact same all over the world.
4. Sunsets are better in Asia - they just are.
Skin update: eczema is definitely improving in the sun. Mosquito bites are even better too. Now to work on the tan.