Finding the middle ground between time and money…
As with everywhere else in the world, when in comes to getting around in South East Asia the easy option is always overpriced, but the affordable option is a real pain in the backside. With that in mind, and our sights set on Laos, we set out to find a happy median.
Day 288 – Monday 6th March 2017
So we decided on Laos, but that was the easy part – next we had to work out where exactly to go, how long to stay for, and most urgently, how to get there!
It was easy for us to choose where to go, because almost every person that we spoke to, every website that we checked out and every tourist information center that we visited pointed to the same place. Luang Prabang, a tiny ancient town in Northern Laos, is widely considered the heart of Laotian culture and regularly referred to as the most beautiful spot in South East Asia. Oh and it’s only small so just a few days is enough time to see everything, which suited us very well.
When it came to getting there we had two obvious choices, either take a bus to the border, then a boat into Laos, then another bus to Luang Prabang (the cheap but very time consuming option), or fly direct from Chiang Mai (the quick but very expensive option). The thing is, we couldn’t bring ourselves to spend a ridiculous amount on flying, but heard loads of bad things about crossing from Thailand to Laos overland, so had to come up with a new plan or scrap the idea altogether.
It took a while to put together a DIY agenda, but in the end we settled on a bit of both. By deciding to take a bus to Bangkok then a flight to Luang Prabang, we found a real middle ground. It could’ve been cheaper, but it could’ve been more expensive, and it could’ve been faster, but it could have been much slower. In our eyes though, it was a win win situation.
The bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok departed at 10:00 and took roughly ten hours, including a stop for lunch which was free of charge. We considered spending the night in the airport but found a hostel and bagged ourselves a discount by showing up so late in the day and promising to be out early in the morning, so stayed there instead.
Strange isn’t it, how turning around and going back on yourself can feel so different when you know there’s an onward journey to look forward to!
Day 289 – Tuesday 7th March 2017
Today we woke up early and headed straight for the airport, then waited around as you do before our flight which only took an hour and twenty minutes.
We arrived in Luang Prabang in the afternoon, shared a taxi into town with a guy who we met on the plane, then checked in to our hostel, dropped off our bags, and went back out again. There seemed to be loads going on but we didn’t want to get involved straight away so found a nice Loatian restaurant and tucked into a traditional dish called Or Lam, a stew consisting of vegetables, beans, eggplants, gourds and black mushrooms, seasoned with lemongrass, chili, and coriander, then finally thickened with sticky rice.
First impressions were great! Laos reminded me of Myanmar but also of Peru, which is a bit strange because they’re such different places. They’re both places that I admire though, so it couldn’t be too bad could it?