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There's more gin than tonic in this glass!
After watching such an amazing sunset, we decided to toast our first proper night in Luang Prabang in a cool bar (called Junitas) we discovered on the bank of the Mekong River.

When I asked for a gin and tonic, I hadn't quite bargained on the large goblet I was to receive. However, it was so refreshing I had another one!

Thanks Thong! Great to meet you fella, keep in touch! :-)

PS: Needless to say, the staff were pretty impressed we managed to get through it ;-)
 
 
Today's goal was to wander around and back streets, away from the markets and hustle and bustle (not that there's much in this very sleepy town!) and to follow the Mekong River all the way to the peninsular where it meets the Nam Khan and to find the UNESCO monument. 

While some of the scenery was beautiful, the highlight of the day was easily watching the sun set over the Mekong River - see the last few photos in the slideshow below. Wow!
 
 
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A typical sunset in Luang Prabang
Wow! This town is truly a special place: not only is this northern Laos town stunning, the people are friendly, the food is really great and it is a recognised UNESCO site.

Located on a peninsular of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan, the views are stunning, and with bars and restaurants dotted along both sides of the rivers it is possible to eat great food, drink some lovely wine and watch some really amazing sunsets... such as this one here taken on the bank of the Nam Khan!

The only drawback (not sure this was a bad thing!) was the internet connections were pretty poor so we are writing this after leaving Luang Prabang. That said, there was so much to do, I'm glad we got to relive the fun times anyway! 

You can follow the blog entries in order from here.

 
 
After such a pleasant experience of travelling on the VIP bus in Thailand, we had no qualms about travelling on another VIP Bus to Luang Prabang even though it would take around 16 hours. The VIP Bus service was advertised as the following:
Comfortable reclining seats, air conditioning, toilet
However, it was anything but! Air conditioning was open windows - those which opened!, there was no toilet, there was a motorbike parked in the middle of the aisle which people who had to clamber over to find their seats, and this was also a cargo bus as boxes of live chickens, rice and various other products were being transported! 

Check out the photos and video below:
And in this video, you can even hear the chickens making content/scared(?) noises in a box (for 16 hours!):

And the arrival was no better!

The final straw in this journey of comedic errors (definitely one to tell the grandchildren!) was the bus was supposed to arrive around 7am, a perfect time to wander into the town centre with our knapsacks, and find some breakfast before securing a guesthouse for the next few nights. 

Alas, the bus arrived seven kilometres from town at 230am! Naturally, no-one was especially happy about this, especially as by the time we arrived in Luang Prabang centre it was about 3am, and all guesthouse were closed for the night (the Laos curfew for felang and locals alike is 1130pm). Some of our travelling companions decided to wander around and wait for 5 hours for the guesthouses to open, but we needed to relax and sleep. 

Eventually we managed to wake an amicable guesthouse owner who was happy to rent us a room for the "night", but to be fair, he did also unlock the bar for us so we could have a couple of well earned beers. No sooner had we sat down and opened a beer, the heavens opened and rained down some blessed cool Asian rain (unlucky to our fellow passengers who decided to wait outside for the guesthouses to open!). Both of us were very happy to stand in it for a short time!.
Following a great Skype call with Roy back in the UK (as he was still up and we were awake and just had to share the journey!) we finished our beers and trotted to bed for a few hours sleep, very glad the journey was over, but still amused by the way it had transpired!
 
 
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Just a quick note to let you know the interactive online map plotting where on our travels we have been and are currently, has now been updated to include the latest country, Laos. 

Take a look by clicking here or click on the map image above.

 
 
Today we will be leaving Thailand and travelling into Laos. Most of the day will be spent travelling and we hear internet connections are patchy at best, so this could be the last update for maybe a week or two. Watch this space, and to those who have requested an email alert (you still can if you haven't), I will also send an email letting you know when the next post is published.

Until then, take care and we miss you all!

Love Adrian and Victoria xx
 
 
Our taxi collected us from Sirin Place Boutique Apartment early morning and we drove uneventfully further north to Chiang Kong admiring the stunning views and a procession of monks.

Chiang Kong is a port town as you would expect - tiny and with nothing really there. It shares a boarder with Huay Xai of Laos; In fact, the only thing separating the two countries is the width of the Mekong River - you can actually see Laos across the water from Thailand. 
After filing out the necessary visa forms, we quickly made out way through "customs" (an unattended shack on the river bank) and then saw our transport vehicle to cross the Mekong!
These long motor boats are pushed off from the shore with a long tree branch, and then a driver buzzes you across the Meekong in a 10 minute journey.
 
 
We had initially considered staying in Huay Xai for a night or 2, but it really is just a port town where you cross the boarder and then travel onwards. So although the town was nothing special, our first experience of Laos food definitely was: chicken and rice with the special Laos peppery sauce - very scrummy!
Video of Huay Xai below:
We quickly moved looked for way to travell south to Luang Prabang, which was indeed a 16 hour adventure!
 
 
Opposite the bus station in Chiang Rai lies an unassuming cafe offering freshly prepared thai food at very reasonable prices. Clean, friendly and with a spotless western toilet (very important!), there is also free wifi and the option to charge your gadgets for a small fee before embarking on your journey. Highly recommended!
 
 
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After spending the morning and early afternoon exploring the magnificent White Temple and Black House, we decided to explore Chiang Rai town centre and the night market. 

A small and clean town, the locals are very friendly and helpful and there are several bars and restaurants as well as the obligatory Boots chemist and Tesco Lotus (which are still odd to see all the way out here). I was also delighted to see they had a Svensons and order the very scrummy sundae to pictured here :-)

After we had completed important chores like stocking up on sunscreen (as we had not idea what was available in Laos), we decided to grab a beer in the afternoon sun to while away some time before the night market opened.

As with the other night markets we've now seen, there is a lot of same-same tat, but there are always a couple of stalls or little shops which hold unique treasures if you can bothered to delve into them. Chiang Grai Night Market is the same. However we managed to find some great bargains including a red shawl for Vix and a couple of T-Shirts like the one my fabulous assistant is modelling below!