News from the other side of the world.

We know we haven’t been in touch for a while, but it’s been very hectic over here and frankly quite difficult to get a decent internet connection. It was hard enough to barely be able to Skype our families for Christmas and New Year’s, so blogging wasn’t priority number one.
Yet, now that we have landed in Australia and that the Library in Darwin offers (fast) free wifi (not something you really get in Laos), we are able to take the time to tell you all about what we did. I’ll try to add some pics, but you will have to wait to see the pictures from our underwater camera – believe me, it’s worth the wait.

Our last real update was from the Thakhek loop in Laos. We had an amazing time there, as you’ve probably read in the blog and seen in the videos.
After dropping the bikes off, we hoped on a tuktuk to get to the bus station where we booked tickets to get to Vientiane. We had to wait until 11pm so we drank a few beers and ate loads of crisps. It was a fun night.
When we arrived in Vientiane in the morning, we took a minibus to Vang Vieng. It was a long, tiring ride and we were thankful when we arrived and already had a hostel booked. We stayed at Easy Go Backpackkers which belongs to the Spicy Group. It’s not the nicest or cleanest, but the price is good, the staff is friendly and it’s well situated.
In Vang Vieng we didn’t do much but it was nice and relaxing. We did a full day kayak trip that including tubing inside a cave and honestly it wasn’t fun at all! (a little bit now that we look back I have to admit.)
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The landscape was absolutely breathtaking!
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The whole trip was really awesome, there were a few rapids. We stopped at one of the tubing bars along the river and that’s where we took our Christmas photo with the Beermas Tree! It was fun.
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On Christmas’ Eve, nothing was really going on in Vang Vieng so we were a bit sad, but on Christmas Day it was a lot nicer. We went to a French pizza place called Lucas — by the hospital – good prices and lovely food. We had organised a secret santa with Marlene and Alex. We ordered a bottle of wine between us 4. It was a lovely evening with great people!
The last day in Vang Vieng – 26th of January – we went to the Blue Lagoon and swam and saw the cave and from a tree into the lagoon – 2m and 5m! I was very, very proud off myself. I felt badass – honestly.
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The next day at 8:30am was our minibus to Luang Prabang – the worst minibus ride ever since we started our trip in South East Asia. Our driver kept stopping for no valid reasons – buying mandarines and stopping at markets. We were in that minibus for 8 hours. Believe, that’s a long time…
But when we arrived, we realised most of the hostels/guesthouses were fully booked… Luckily enough the boys found us guesthouse for 80000KIP/night (8euros) which is a really good price for LP. The guesthouse is called Vong Champa Guesthoue, and we would recommend it, although I am sure there is better deals around town.
In LP, Dennis was ill for a while – tonsillitis – we were all quite tired after all these days on the bikes, so we had 5 quite days in the town. We when to see the Kuang Si waterfall and the Tad Sae waterfall. We preferred Kuang Si as we found it more impressive. Also, Tad Sae is simply surrounded by restaurants, some are even being built on the waterfall pools, literally. Not pretty.
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We also went to visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center, which was slightly expensive (25000KIP) but really worth it.
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We also lazily spent two whole days at La Pistoche, a lovely swimming pool (30000KIP entrance fee). The food and drinks there are super expensive so make sure you hide a bottle of water and a bag of nuts in your backpack before you go.
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We celebrated New Year’s in LP, which was very nice, apart from Dennis being quite ill. We went to Indigo for food and then had a couple of beers outside our guesthouse ad just before the countdown, headed down to the main place to scream happy new year to each other and see the fireworks. It was a really lovely evening!
On the 2nd of January, we took a minibus up to Nong Khiaw (4 hours, 65000KIP/pers). There, we stayed at Delilah’s Place, a nice hostel with 2 private double rooms and amazing cakes. Only downside for me was the noise at night, as a whole bunch of Lao people were coming round, playing pool, drinking beer and listening to Lao music very loud. Not the best when you’re trying to sleep and it seems like the party is happening in your room. The owner assured us that they have to be gone by 11:30pm but to me it was still late – when you pay for a room you pay to sleep, not to suffer other people’s party. I would still recommend to stay there, but in the dorm, not in the downstairs room. Their breakfast is fantastic but their lunch sandwiches way over priced.
As I was feeling exhausted and I had an unhappy tummy, I stayed in for a whole day whilst the guy when for a walk up to the View Point. The next day everybody went for a walk along the river to a village. We had taken everything we needed in order to have a picnic. Two local boys showed us the way to some sort of beach and we have food there. It was a lovely day.
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The following day, the boys had a bad stomach, so Marlene and I went for a short walk, and then everybody had a restful day. It was good to relax, because the day few days promised to be adventurous!
Indeed, when we arrived in Nong Khiaw, the first thing we did was to book a three days kayak trip to Luang Prabang. On the 6th of January, we dropped our big bags at the Green Discovery office and put our small bagpacks in dry bags and hoped on our tri-yaks.
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The first day, we kayaked all the way down to a village where we did a homestay. The scenery was unbelievable.
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The village we spent the night at was a really amazing experience. The people were so kind and generous. The kids were hilarious!2015/01/img_4766.jpg
We had a fantastic time there with the kids. They were shy at first but then really wanted to interact. They also loved taking pictures and selfies with our phones!
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We showered with sarongs and a bucket of water outside the house we stayed in. For me, it was a first, so it was an interesting experience. We ate with our host around on the table on the floor. We had spicy morning glory and bamboo soup with sticky rice. For me, it was one of the most delicious dishes I ever had!
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We had nice sleep, not too warm not too cold, getting ready for the next day.
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In the morning, we had a lovely breakfast with sticky rice again and then headed for our second kayak day.
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It was actually a crazy start of the day because the first thing were nice big rapids and big waves. I hadn’t heard our guide warn us about it, so I thought filming the rapids was a good idea… Until a big wave hit us and Dennis on his own couldn’t control the kayak and so we capsized. I have to admit, it wasn’t fun! We lost our sunglasses and some water got into the dry bags. But eventually everything was fine and we made it safe and sound out of the rapids and back on the way.
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The rest of the day was hot and nice, our lunch was pretty disgusting but dinner made it up for it. We set up camp on a beach after 3 big rapids. We gathered wood ad made a big fire. The food was delicious and we all enjoyed a beer looking at the stars. It was a fantastic night, the tent was really cosy and comfy.
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The following day, we kayaked all the way to the Pak-Ou caves (or Buddha caves) close to Luang Prabang. We visited the caves and had lunch and then went on to the Whisky Village where supposedly a lot of Lao Lao (local whisky) is hand made.
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Honestly it was more of a tourist trap. Then a truck picked us up with our big bags and took us to the bus station where we had a shower and food whilst waiting for our night bus to Vientiane.
Follows a crazy bus journey all the way to Bangkok: night bus to Vientiane, Bus to Nong Khai (passing the Laos-Thai border) then bus to Bangkok.
In Bangkok, we stayed at Thai Cozy Hotel close to Kao San Road, a recommended by Mango Restaurant in October. We had a nice day in Bangkok, going to Chatuchak market again and enjoying a couple of beers of Kao San. We realised, at that moment, how much we would miss Marlene and Alex, and it was sad to say goodbye, but our traveling must go on, and we knew we would see them again.
On the 11th of January, we woke up at 3:00am to go to the airport and catch our flight Singapore. We arrived around 8:30am and went in the city of the day. We absolutely loved Singapore, because of the mix of cultures, the art, the cleanliness, etc. A really cool city you have to see once in your life!
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We got to see Little India, Arab Street, Chinatown, Marina Bay, Orchard Street… We really had a fantastic time.
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We spent the evening at Changi Airport which is incredible! I wish we could have walked around and see the cactus garden and go by the swimming pool, but Dennis was tired and grumpy because of sleep deprivation so we just lied in a corner and got some sleep until 2:00am when we went to board our flight. We landed in Denpasar, Bali, early morning and spent the whole day in the airport until our flight to Darwin, Australia at 6:30pm!
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And now, as you can guess, we are in Australia, ready for this new adventure. And we promised we will keep you posted! (maybe you have to harass Dennis so he writes more on the blog… okay?!)

-Julie

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