When I decided to study abroad in Southeast Asia, my must-see destination was Laos. Since there was no school on Monday this week, my friend Paige and I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a long weekend in Luang Prabang! The trip to Laos started off a little shaky when I had difficulties getting my visa changed which would allow me to get back into Thailand. And the airport did not have any place for us to exchange baht to kip. Ahhh… too much stress too early in the morning! Luckily, everything worked out, and I was able to get back into Thailand smoothly (so I guess I will have to go back to school on Tuesday).
Luang Prabang was beautiful. The whole city is surrounded by forested mountains and gorgeous flowing rivers. The roads are lined with palm trees and temples. It felt like being transported back in time (but maybe that was because of all the Communist flags flying everywhere).
The money was very confusing since it is 8132 kip for a dollar. The money looked so different, and it took us a while to get comfortable with it—using 100,000 bills feels very unnatural. (And who knew that Bangkok would feel normal and natural?!) Getting in the cab at the airport made me realize that I probably should have learned a few Lao phrases. I was talking in Thai and English, which was not very helpful. Luckily, we were able to manage. Paige and I got traditional Lao food for lunch (which was amazing) and a crepe for dessert (God bless the French influence in the city—the baguettes and crepes were heavenly). We explored several temples and ate too much food—a favorite pastime of ours!
The next morning, we got up super early (ugh!) to go kayaking. I was beyond excited (probably way too excited) to go kayaking in the Mekong River! It was just Paige and me with our guide. There were small rapids and the scenery was unbelievable. After about 2.5 hours, we stopped at a waterfall. We hiked to the top and swam in the freezing water—but it was very clear water, making it worth it. We had the whole waterfall to ourselves which was pretty amazing. We kept kayaking down the river for another two hours. I was disappointed when we had to stop. Just the idea of being able to kayak in February was exciting when at home, I usually have to wait to go until the end of April.
That night, we got pizza (that had so much cheese on it—yay!) for dinner and wandered around the night market. I was very happy to go to sleep. However, I only got about five hours because we decided to get up before the sun to climb to a temple to watch the sun rise. Unfortunately, it was sort of cloudy, but the view was great—and I got a great calf workout—gotta keep them sculpted since I don’t get to climb many stairs here! Afterward, we ate a giant cinnamon roll, but since we walked up all those stairs, we had certainly earned it.
We spent the day sitting by the river, eating Nutella sandwiches, exploring the city, and even getting a fish pedicure. That night, we took a sunset boat cruise (because we are an adorable couple—ha ha ha!). It cost us $6 for a two-hour cruise, and it came with free mojitos. It was a beautiful sunset—and well worth being super cold after the sun went down!
The next morning, we got up early and ate breakfast by the river and took a bus to Kuang Si waterfalls. We were amazed by this waterfall—we thought the one we had seen previously was pretty cool, but this one was even more impressive with multiple levels and a lot of water flowing down them.
We hiked all the way to the top—on what was appeared to be an extremely steep path—only to find out when we were done that it was not an actual path. On the top of the waterfall, there was a swing over a pool of water that we had way too much fun swinging on!
I even jumped in the water—only to have my body go numb. Considering that it was cold during the day, I don’t know what I was expecting when I jumped in. There were only a few other brave souls in the water!
When we got back from the waterfall, we got mud baths and massages on the riverside. The mud baths were so much fun, and we left a trail of muddy water back to our room. We then got dinner by the river and got more massages afterwards—when an hour massage costs only $5, you just have to do it!
The time spent in Luang Prabang went by too quickly. The city had something so special about it, and I know that one day I will be back. Next stop Ayutthaya!
Give me a few mojitos and “Rebecca cuddles” are inevitable.