Well. Well. Well, where do I even begin?! My procrastination even spans to my blogs I'm afraid. I apologize to all my faithful readers for being so tardy, what did you do without me :) ?
My saga continues after the elephant camp onto making the Thailand/Laos crossing. We decided on taking the popular Mekong Slow Boat across and down the river. Since the boat left in the morning we had to stay one night in Chiang Khong. This was helpful since that night was Whitney's last....LAST, rabies shot with a shot of tetanus on the side. We stayed at our nicest hostel yet for only 3 dollars each a night. ( Now you know I'm kidding right..?) Whitney's lift to the hospital was even included! After being auctioned off Whitney received the old man motorbike driver that didn't speak any English...perfect. She made it back safely and we finally don't have to worry about her rampaging Thailand. I have already decided that if there are any animal scares I'm pushing her vaccinated booty in front of mine :D.
Taking a short ferry and filling out Paperwork was the extent of actions to be completed before we were officially in Laos. This crossing was a million times easier than Cambodia!! After, easily enough we found tickets for the slow boat, and when it was named the Slow Boat they weren't lying. This was a two day excursion down the Mekong river for seven hours each day to arrive in Luang Prabang. The river trip even though excruciatingly long was absolutely beautiful. Cliffs, mountains, and wild animals were our scenery. It was also refreshing to see the simplicity of life lived along the river. Fisherman dotted the coastline waiting for their catch of the day, while the kids all swam naked and jumped off the rocks. It was pleasant to see and also wave at the little ones who would giggle and wave until we were out of eyesight.
Arriving in Luang Prabang we hiked to find an acceptable hostel for the group. Finally landing at the appropriate one we were ready to shower and change and all the electricity went out! Come to find out its the whole city, this seems to happen occasionally since everyone was ready with candles and lights. Whitney and I decided to take it easy that night to try to formulate our plan. Having everything basically planned out in Thailand and leaving Laos and Vietnam until last really made us rush. Unfortunately I wish we had more time to experience both countries. This was already around the 26th of April and we only had until May 8th to fully take in both countries. Not to mention we didn't take into account how long both were, and how we were going to make it all the way to the southern Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam airport that we booked our departing flight out of. Hmmm, a couple of airplane flights and buses later we had some sort of plan that only gave us the next day for LP.
Waking up we decided on renting some bikes to pedal around the city. Stupidly, Whitney and I saw that on one bike there was a small back seat with pegs for a second person. We thought...' oh this is awesome!! It's like we're little kids again, we can be on the same bike, and save money at the same time!' Ten minutes after departing and a couple hills later we were both wishing we had paid that extra .30 cents. Our ride was over before it started and it was time to return them.
That afternoon we were taking a bus into Vang Vieng. Should be an easy five hour ride right? I've done way longer, this is cake.
Boy was I wrong. Laos is not built up as much as Thailand and the roads are not the best quality. Also the track to get into VV is through a cluster of windy mountains. Now that I'm alive and able to tell the story, let's just say I was scared. I think our guide thought he was a race car driver. My body was literally flying from left to right while I braced myself and closed my eyes. At this point it was dark outside and the only sound I heard was the screeching of the tires drifting around the corners and the occasional whimper from Whitney saying she thinks she is going to vomit.
Safely making it and not flying off into the abyss we were dropped at Mr. T's Organic Mulberry Farm. This is something Whitney found before we left the states and wanted to participate in. And boy am I happy because their Mulberry pancakes in the morning are to die for! We stayed here for three nights. The first morning we woke ready to volunteer! We helped corralling the goats into the pasture so we were able to clean their stalls and also clean the area where the fertilizer was. After that we were able to do something I have never done, milk! We were also able to see how they make their very own goat cheese, yummmmyy. There is definitely a way to milk properly and I would say we were all beginners. My one tip: don't smell your hands afterwards.
There are also fields where you are able to pick mulberries. Exploring around we didn't exactly know what a mulberry bush looked like so it was a little hard. I also think maybe they had just ransacked the fields because poor Whitney and I came back pathetic with only about 30 unripened berries to offer back. They didn't take them.
One of the main things to do in the city it to eat and watch American shows. Specifically Friends and Family Guy. Its almost like a portal with bed tables and TVs at the front. Sami, you would have been in heaven :)
The next day we had planned out, caves in the morning and tubing in the afternoon. We took a tuk tuk to the 'Blue Lagoon.' We walked up to see a teal blue river with little nuggets jumping out of trees and a rope swing. Excited for that upon return we ventured on into the cave we were warned we should have lights. Possibly not being properly equipped with shoes and enough headlamps we set ahead anyways into a huge cave. We went onward even though the light began to dim and I had to guide the way for Whitney while Mike used the flash on his video camera. After reaching what we think was close to the end or at least close to the end of any clean air we turned around to retrace our path and of course take some photos. Being dusty and sweaty the blue lagoon was just the cure.
Lucky for us, but unlucky for the organic farm the start of 'tubing' was right around the corner. This is a tourist ritual on this path that almost everyone feels the need to participate in. What it comes down to is basically a party. You rent a tube and float down the Nam Song river and stop at the river bars on the way for drinks and some dancing. We decided on going without tubes since we were staying right there just wanted to check out the scene. Next thing you know Whitney and I were leading the Macarena (or at least we like to think.) The point is to bop from bar to bar while collecting string bracelets and writing on people with marker or paint. We spotted a bar across the river and the next thing you know we were flung a tube attached by a rope. The staff pulled us in and we ventured to our third and last bar.
Now there are many people that get stuck here. By this I mean that they just call off their trip for a while and are stationary collecting bracelets all the way to their armpits. I don't understand how this is possible because all it left me with was a nasty bruise on my shin, a massive headache, and a missing camera ( which was mailed and recovered, thanks Olivier!)
The next morning we had to move on to the next city which we were flying out of, Vientiane. We originally were going back the way we came but after that bus ride and some people telling us the other bus ride wasn't as bad, we switched locations of our departing flight. We were mistaken. This ride wasn't swaying side to side but instead bumping up and down. Just when you hit a paved portion of the road and thought, thank goodness, it ended. This road and my headache were definitely not friends. But i do have to mention Whitney was sitting next to the little boy that threw up, that was the only lucky part of my being in the last seat of a 14 person bus. I didn't realize it yet but this was the beginning of hell for me.
The next three days were the most miserable days of my entire trip. Flying out and into Hanoi, Vietnam we treated ourselves to a nice hotel. I want to thank god for that because I didn't leave the hotel room once. I became super sick with intense stomach cramps consuming my whole torso. Being the tough girl I am I tried to tell myself it would pass but by the next day and no relief it was my turn for the hospital. The hospital was acceptable and I saw a doctor, got blood work, and underwent a stomach ultrasound. And don't worry Whitney made sure to find out if I was carrying the next immaculate conception. The answer in no, but all my organs seem to be in place.
My answer to the pain was a viral infection. From what I understood some spike in my blood work came up with that answer. I was sent home with medication, and paid only...$50 dollars for everything. A little different than home huh? Only feeling a bit better it was already time to fly south to Ho Chi Minh City. Hopefully my luck gets better from here!
Livin la vida Laos