19.2.2017 Bangkok

A slightly dull head greeted us on opening our eyes. 

We met Paula and Dave for a Chinese brunch, noodles, wontons, and more. It was delicious.

Find farewells were made in a bar and they set off to the airport. It was really sad to see them go, we had looked forward to seeing them so much, although they had ruined our traveller kudos points by having trolley bags and a Vietnamese hat.

We need a holiday to get over it all …..😎

The rest of the day was spent slowly drinking cold shandy, with a pepperoni pizza for lunch and trying to find a beer at a reasonable price on Khao San road. 

With Chinese for breakfast and pizza for lunch, evening food had to be Indian Curry and a Bond film (Spectre) was the evenings entertainment.

15-17.1.17 Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is beautiful. Let’s just state that up front. 

Nestled where the Nam Khan river joins the Mekong, the green, leafy, laid back streets are decorated with French colonial buildings, Buddhist Wats, magnolia and palm trees. Young buddhist monks wander the streets in bright orange robes, using umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun. Its a pleasure to just wander around its back streets, getting lost.

The old concrete architecture has been renovated in places and now houses boutique clothing or coffee shops serving deep, rich, tar-like Lao grown coffee, accompanied by ginger bread pancakes or apple and tamarind tarts. The cafes wouldn’t look out of place in London except the palm tree-lined Mekong flows past, slow and unstoppable. Sitting and watching the river at Saffron cafe became a simple treat, like all the best things in life.

Bakeries abound, offering sugary gluten treats to those in need of a change from rice. Baguettes, croissants and cake offer a reason to pull up a chair in the shade and take a break from the sun. 

For the holidaymakers, plush spas offer massage and body treatments. For the backpackers, the Red Cross have an hour body massage for 50000 kip (£5) and your money goes directly to help fund them which soothes your conscience too.

Its a place so hazy, even the songthaew taxi drivers just shout at you without climbing down from the comfort of their drivers seats. 

We spent a few days here enjoying the ambience. The day would start twenty metres from our hostel, where a 7.30am yoga class on a wooden deck overlooked the Nam Khan river. Feral dogs would roam on the sand banks in the river, congregating and playing together like small kids. After yoga was coffee and indulgent breakfasts watching the river flow by.

Our day would be spent exploring streets, visiting Wats or museums. We enjoyed the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre where we learnt about some of the tribes in Laos and their costumes. We visited a scheme called Big Brother mouse setup to help local students practice their English with tourists. I chatted to three Hmong lads who hoped their English skills would help them find good jobs. 

In the evenings there is a night market where souvenirs are haggled over. I have to admit that of the five nights we spent here, three evening meals were Indian curry. You can take us out of England but you can’t take away chicken tikka masala.

14.1.2017 Luang Prabang

Every time we tried to get out of bed the electricity went off, so we decided we should have a lie in. 

Eventually we got up by torchlight and went to a coffee shop, Saffron Cafe, which by buying their coffee you were helping the local farmers.  I had a double expresso and Guy had a double macchiato, seriously! We sat by the Mekong river and breakfasted on a Breakfast burrito and gingerbread pancakes, surely this is the pinnacle of middle class travelling…..in Laos…….

We spent a few hours wandering around the town, it is stuffed full of boutique hotels, French colonial buildings – most of which are now hotels or cafes, Spas and handicraft shops, very different to before and a bit of a shock.

Our mission for today was to get a hostel for the next few nights, we got one which was cheaper, with a window (no more dressing by torchlight in the blackouts) and with less of a man’s urinal aroma about it. Result!

In between photographing the town we sat by the river we had a coconut and scooped out the flesh for some nutrients.

Indigo Cafe appeared in front of us, we had been recommended this bakery so dived in. We wheezed our way to the rooftop terrace and found it full of people on laptops, mute, so we went back downstairs and had a tuna, caper, dill open sandwich.  

Guy was most disappointed there was no avocado. They even had a sign to tell us middle class travellers there was no arvo.

More walking through the town, we politely declined offers of songthaw rides to the caves and waterfalls (we had done that in 1998!!) and enjoyed the sunshine. It was 30 degrees and the sky was blue.

We had a very important appointment at 4 pm with Mum and Dad for a birthday Skype, which was lovely despite a pigeon dive bombing us.

Evening descended and we managed to have a glass of red wine in hand with a cheese and salami ‘platter’.

Dinner was a repeat of last night, curry and beer. Honestly, what did you expect!