2010 LAOS TO HANOI

Hello everyone.  I apologize for my last Adventure and the length of time it took to download
all those Megabytes.  I had changed my camera setting in hopes of getting a better quality
photo.  I did but at a big cost in download time and bandwidth.  I realize that unless you are
going to print these photos on paper, it is not necessary to maintain a super fine setting with
the largest amount of pixels on your camera. 
That said.  I dropped my laundry at the “front desk” and headed out for my coffee with my
shoulder purse. The days here are cool and misty in the morning then the sun breaks through
in the afternoon and it becomes warm and a bit humid.  Then it cools back down in the
evening. Quite nice. I think I’m growing more hair in this climate…on my head!  Really or
maybe it is the 25 Wat bulbs in all the rooms so I just can’t tell.  Everyone cooks with wood
so there is always the smell of a fire in the air. Well I hope the National Museum is open
today.  I’m visiting the Caves tomorrow then leave for the capital of Laos… Vientiane the next
day.
It wasn’t so I wandered into a photo gallery that was great. It happened right after I dropped
everything at the post and spent almost $100 to mail out $190 worth of stuff.  I even sent this
by boat…if it didn’t arrive in 3 months I could call the Post in Luang Prabang and they would
look into it.  Third world countries?  Count your blessings.  Anyway I fell in love with the
photo gallery and the Tam Mor restaurant next door.
 I had a great meal


then decided to take a Tuk Tuk to my Guesthouse.
 He drove along the Mekong so when we got close I requested he drop me off along the busy
area of the river in the evening.  There was a party going on at the “Snake Wine ” bar so I
stopped to have a shot with the locals.  Then the bartender/owner couldn’t find change so to
oblige him I had another shot.  That took care of me for the evening.  I set my alarm for 5:30
am to give alms to the Buddhist Monks at sunrise before they Chant and then I have a ticket
for the downstream riverboat to the caves and a village.  I just want to return in time to pick
up my laundry and pack to depart the next day to Vientiane.  I still haven’t been able to book
a room for the two nights I’ll be there!  Nor have I been able to book the flight to the
Philippines. I will see a tour agent in Hanoi.
I was up at 5:45am and out the door to give alms to the monks.  There was a lady right on
the corner of my street selling them to me.  I bought some sticky rice and bananas then she
took me across the street and sat a mat down for me to sit on while the monks strolled by
with their alms bowls.
 I’m sitting there all alone in the dark waiting for monks to arrive?  She said 6am and it was.
 I looked down the street and noted about 5 oriental people also sitting on a mat and waiting
so I figured this must be the place even though traffic was headed downtown with vans loaded
with tourists.  Tuk-Tuks were filled to capacity and all going downtown.  More people started
to come out and walk down the street.  Some waited along side with cameras in hand.  I’m
still sitting there all by myself when it starts to rain.  I finally decided to give my alms to the
orientals down the street to pass out while I seek shelter under an awning across the way.  
The rain picked up and the alms salesperson approached us to move under a shelter and the
monks would come to us.  I left the group and let them sit on the ground.  Now the whole
town is filling up all the streets and traffic is bumper to bumper.  6:30 came around along
with a procession of Monks that just materialized out of no where.  I took some photos then
had breakfast and returned to meet my taxi to the boat. 
 There I joined a group waiting to go to the Caves when I realized I didn’t take my meds.  That
wouldn’t be so bad but I couldn’t remember if I took them last night either?  I rented a taxi
and returned to discover I had taken the evening ones but not the ones this morning. I did,
then returned to the group in time to board the boat.  
There is something about coming down a steep incline of sand and treacherous rock to
navigate a flimsy gangplank across to a rocking boat that makes you feel especially macho
when you do board. We stopped after an hour at a tourist village to spend money.
 People actually inhabited this place and it was quite interesting to see them weaving away.  
We all took some photos, paid to use the hole in the ground and continued to the caves.
I stood in line while climbing the stairs to the caves, then took some photos, and returned to
the boat.  There were other caves to see that were larger with less Buddha statues and less
people visiting them as they were a longer walk around the mountain. While I was waiting,
a guy from Oregon got off an  arriving boat with the usual gaggle of tourists and asked me if
it was worth the climb up?  He was about 6’5 and a very middle aged man in good physical
shape.  I told him no so he decided to stay on the boat.  We chatted a bit. He was with a group
from Oregon that were on a bicycle trip through Laos.  I commented that I had met another
bicyclist from Oregon in Chiang Mai and that there was a 10 day trip from here to Hanoi by
bicycle.  Oh we did that 5 years ago he commented.  Feeling very out of shape and old I
climbed back into my boat and waited for the others.  
We returned to Luang Prabang and I visited the National Museum.  Quite nice but NO
PHOTO ALLOWED.  Lot of Gold Thrones and Buddhas. Sparse collecting that dated back to
the year 700 AD.  Very nice but didn’t take but an hour.  I had a late lunch, picked up my
laundry for $2 and returned to the room to pack and get an early sleep.  Still no hotel in
Vientiane. 
I was thinking that my taxi was picking me up at 7:30am so went for coffee this morning and
upon returning got read the riot act by my Inn keeper.  The taxi driver woke her looking for
me and she pounded on my door but no.  Well he returned and when I arrived, I got on the
bus and showed the guy my receipt.  He said I had take it to the ticket counter to get my
ticket.  The ticket counter said I had to take it to the bus.  I took it back noting that I had
been assigned seat 23.  The man said the bus was full and I had to take the 9 am instead of
the 8am bus.  I went back to the ticket counter and he told me to come back in 10 minutes.
 I did and he issued me a ticket for seat 23 on the next bus.  It started boarding at 8:30 so I
got on to find the only other person on the bus in my seat.  He had seat 23 also.  OK I went
back and requested seat 27 as it was good for long legged people.  I got seat 33 that was
broken and the window cracked like a spider web.  It was not suited for anyone over 5 feet
tall.  I complained but to know avail so settled in for a 10 hour ride.  The first hour went by
and the A/C went out.  The bus driver opened the only vent but with the sun coming out full
the place was like an oven.  We stopped for lunch so we could regain our composure and take
a leak.  The lunch was part of the deal but no one really wanted to get back on the bus.  We
were only 3hours into the trip.  We did and it was worse because you couldn’t sleep , breath,
and just sat and sweated for the next 7 hours.  It was unbelievably beautiful scenery and I was
attempting to take photos and movies out of my broken and dirty window while the bus/truck
with no shocks bounced down winding narrow roads full of potholes and hairpin turns.  
When it was over, I got a Taxi to deliver me to an ATM machine then on to a nice $35 a night
hotel with AC , three double beds, a dorm size hot shower, refrigerator and cable TV  with
WiFi thrown in.  I took a shower, am on the internet and getting ready to drop my sweaty
clothes to be washed with the laundry service and head into town.  I wanted to download all
my great movies of this bus ride with the picturesque mountain side villages and I ended up
erasing them all! I’m out of here.  No body would believe that trip anyway.  
I walked to the downtown area along the river and found some more stuff to buy.  It is a nice
area and I can’t wait to see it in the day.  I took some photos but at night they don’t turn out
too well.  We are situated on the Mekong River with Thailand across on the other side. Little
outdoor cafes and bars line up along the river front.  You can just sit and look at the river
while sipping a BeerLao.  I stopped in the Full Moon Cafe for some Asian fusion food.  It was
great and with two glasses of wine came to $8.  I stopped at a Mini Mart on the way back and
bought a bottle of Champa.  Lao’s version of white lighting.   80% proof 12 oz for 50 cents.
 The guy looked at me and shook his head.  I said it was made in Lao so it should either be
good or it will kill me.  I handed  him 40000 instead of 4000.  $5 instead of .50 cents.  He
wanted to know if that was his tip?  I then stopped by the hotel nightclub on the roof with a
view of the river and had a glass of wine before returning to my room.
Bed time.  Oh yeah…I downloaded the photos and 90% were crap because of the dirty window
or the vibrations from the bouncing bus.
Info on Vientiane:  



 The American Breakfast was a cold 1/4 of a hotdog, a cold piece of pressed ham, two pieces
of warm wonder bread, and one really fried egg with instant coffee.  I visited True Coffee and
had fresh orange juice with a latte and crossiant. It was nice and cool this morning.  The
Mekong is being dredged to make a harbor or port for more tourist boats.
 I took lots of photos of more temples, visited an antique/handicraft shop and then had a
siesta.

    I wandered around most of the rest of the day, taking photos, exploring Temples, talked to
a Monk again., and read some more of my book.  I had a large fruit salad for dinner.  I have
been eating too many crappy American Breakfasts so decided to get healthy.  Well that fruit
salad woke me in the night and needless to say, I had to shower and switch beds.  Not exactly
the way to spend your last night in country.  I felt better this morning and passed up the
breakfast to visit one of my favorites…Joma Coffee.  They have 3 in Laos and they are all
great. I passed the Monk I had talked to the day before. I think I did?  Monks all look alike,
shaved head and saffron robe, but he did say hello like he recognized me standing out among
the crowd. I check out at noon and fly out at 2:30 with arrival around 4 pm in Hanoi.  The
hostel is to have a taxi pick me up.  That will be different. See you in Vietnam!

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