Tag Archives: Laos

11 things I miss from home

I wrote this in Bangkok airport as we were about to begin our voyage back to London, to dampen the misery of ending our trip. There are still a couple of entries to make – for central Vietnam, northern Thailand and Bangkok – but alas, I’ll be writing them from England…

So here, in no particular order, are a few things that make ending a six-month jaunt around Asia slightly more endurable.

1 – Sunshine

It might sound contradictory to miss Britain for the sunshine, having spent six months in south-east Asia during its summer months. But it’s a different kind of sunshine – the kind you can stand in for more than 10 minutes and feel it on your skin without peeling like a snake. The kind that makes you want to absorb it, not hide in the shadows.

Continue reading 11 things I miss from home

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Luang Prabang’s so fun, I Pii Mai pants

Luang Prabang waterfalls
One step at a time

Back in November 2014, Swarana and I threw a little leaving-drinks shindig in the Earl Haig in Crouch End. One of our friends, a well-travelled English fella called Martin, sat me down and said, “Mate, promise me one thing, make sure you’re in Chiang Mai on 14th April – it’s New Year there and this bloke I met in Thailand told me it’s mental.”

I asked what happens. “I don’t actually know because I couldn’t make it. But that’s it, see? That’s why you have to make it! Make sure you get Swarana there for the 14th.”

Continue reading Luang Prabang’s so fun, I Pii Mai pants

Vang Vieng vistas and vomit

A beautiful place, near-ruined by bingeing
Vang Vieng’s verdure vistas and violent vomiting

Ah, Vang Vieng. What a peculiar place it is. It’s undoubtedly most famous for its drunken tubing scene, but there’s much more to the beautiful mountain setting than getting ripped off by locals and being sick in a river.

Indeed, it’s the binge-drinking idiocy that makes graffiti like “Tourists Go Home” completely unsurprising. It’s a place that sold itself to tourists, but now wants its town back.

Continue reading Vang Vieng vistas and vomit

Don’t panic – it’s just Vientiane

Patuxai, Vientiane
Vientiane’s “vertical runway”

Capital city time! We’d breezed through Bangkok, but had been pleasantly surprised by the intensity and charm of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Phnom Penh, so the Lao capital Vientiane was an exciting prospect, even if our main reason for going was to buy visas from the Vietnamese embassy.

It’s not the bustling city you might expect, though. It’s quite small, in fact – with little-to-no regular night life. Still, we arrived and were treated that same evening to an apparently famous Thai rock band playing a free gig alongside the Lao National Culture Hall.

Continue reading Don’t panic – it’s just Vientiane

King of Kong Lor

Coming out the other side of Kong Lor
Light at the end of the tunnel

Most Laos travel guides will begin with a list of top-five, must-see, life-affirming experiences, and a trip to the caves of Kong Lor will undoubtedly feature – and highly. Hyperbole abounds, to the point you might reasonably expect to asphyxiate from awe (awesphyxiation, you might call it).

It sounds wonderful, but to get there is a little tricky. We picked the town of Thakhek to the south-east of Kong Lor to base ourselves, because it sounded pretty and we had been presently surprised by Savannakhet.

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Been there, Don Det, got the shi*ts

4,000 Islands
Floating down the Mekong

Laos – the land of smiles and striking scenery. From the mountains of Vang Vieng, to the colonial charm of Luang Prabang, this land-locked country has a lot to offer, not least the area of 4,000 Islands, an archipelago in the middle of the Mekong by the Cambodian border.

But first, that border needs negotiating – and I choose that word carefully. Continue reading Been there, Don Det, got the shi*ts