I have left Singapore! It was a good city to visit, and a great jumping off point thanks to the cheap flights on Air Asia, Jet Star, and Tiger, but it was time to move off into the less “westernized” areas. My first flight was on Jet Star, which honestly did not seem like a budget airlines if judging by the quality of service. The only slightly disconcerting bit was how much the entire planned rattled during take-off and landing. I found myself hoping the wings were still attached!
A safe arrival in Thailand brought a pleasant surprise! Free WiFi in the arrival lounge! Our plan was to make it to the evening train from Bangkok to Vientianne, Laos, so our first order of business was grabbing a bus to the train staion. Other than the folks who stand outside the station and lie to your face about the available trains (they are trying to sell you bus tickets instead), it was no problem getting the overnight train we wanted. We opted for 2nd class beds with A/C, and found them to be just fine for a one night trip. Of course, top priority upon arrival was finding a decent place to stay and getting a shower! In Vientianne I recommend the Mali Namphu hotel by the Namphu fountain. It was $24 USD a night for two twin beds. Good location and a greatway to rejuvenate after 18 hours on the train (yeah, it took longer than the 12 hours the said it would)!
Laos may just be my favorite country I’ve ever visited. I’ve never said that about any country before, but it sure looks like it might be true. The entire place is chilled out, relaxed, and jovial. More of the locals are smiling all the time, not just when they want you to buy something. The capital city feels like a small outlying town, not like a country capital.
A few days later we hopped an overnight bus to Luang Prabhang. It came with a proposed 2AM arrival time, but of course that turned into 4AM. We were lucky to have booked a place that said they would open up for us that time of night. Again a shower was needed immediately after the bus, and honestly it got pretty hot and smelly on the bus, but the most annoying thing was the driver’s habit of stopping as and when he wanted to, for unpredictable amounts of time…up to an hour each time. Hard to get much sleep with the cabin lights going on at every stop.
Actually I am a few days behind in posting due to internet difficulties, but I’ll try to catch up. More pictures have been posted.