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!
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!
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!