Laos: The Land of Snake Whisky and Sandwiches

Hey Y’all!

I apologize for not updating in a bit. I normally have internet access wherever I am through my phone, but in Laos, my Thai sim card is no good. And now, I’m finding it hard to begin this post….. We will start here:

WARNING: If you are not interested in how much it costs to get to Laos, please ignore the next paragraph.

Last post, I was boarding a VIP bus to Laos with my friend Tom. Tom’s my English friend who I met on a bus headed from Koh Tao, and he was my travel buddy throughout Laos. Our bus left Bangkok I believe around 8:00pm on the 22nd. We didn’t realize that the picture of the bus they showed us at the station would be exactly what we were paying for (Thai culture has a nack for embellishing things…), but we were pleasantly surprised. Because we booked through the bus station, though, and not a travel agency, we were the only westerners on board. Needless to say, it was quite confusing when the bus stopped and they were telling us we had arrived in Nong Khai in Thai…. From Nong Khai, we bargained with a tuktuk driver to take us to the Laos border so we could get another bus to Vientiane–He tried to charge us 200 baht each, but we negotiated to 50 baht total. Once we were at the Laos border, we had our passports stamped for 1,500 baht, then boarded the bus to Vientiane (I forget how much that was, sorry!). We were contemplating staying in Vientiane for the night, but decided to man up and get another ride to our true destination of Vang Vieng. That bus trip cost about 60,000 kip, so about $7.50 USD. It’s really interesting how time works in Southeast Asia. They gave us the time our bus was going to leave, but we ended up waiting about an hour before it actually got there! Finally, though, we boarded the four hour bus ride to Vang Vieng and the fun was soon to begin!

The city of Vang Vieng is quite small, and very westernized. There is not one place you can be standing along the main street where you can’t hear Friends or Family Guy playing at a local lounging restaurant. I call it a “lounging” restaurant because there are no chairs and all the tables are one-sided. It’s very convenient for lazy westerners recovering from a day of tubing. Which brings me to the next topic…. Tubing is the main attraction in Vang Vieng. Really, though, there isn’t much tubing involved. It’s mostly a collection of bars lined up along a river, and when you are floating by, they throw you a line and reel you in. Like the full moon party, there are buckets galore, but all this is happening between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00 pm, not am. If you were to go tubing by yourself, you’re guaranteed to make at least five friends at each bar. NOTE: If you are going tubing in Vang Vieng, don’t waste your money on renting a tube. They cost 55,000 kip to rent, a 60,000 kip deposit and you don’t get your money back unless you bring it back by 6:00pm. NOTE NUMBER TWO: If you have a sandwich craving, Laos is the place to go. They are delicious and there’s no shortage of mayo. I met quite a lot of friends in Vang Vieng. A couple girls, Lucy and Finch, went to Cambodia, but some others, Ashley, Becci and Donna came to Luang Prabang with us. We stayed at a treehouse style hostel in Vang Vieng called Spicy Laos which cost about 30,000 kip a night—less than $4 USD. Since Spicy Laos is a chain in a couple places, we decided to stay at the other Spicy Laos in Luang Prabang–our next destination.

Luang Prabang is much more relaxed than Vang Vieng. They have an amazing night market, and you can get all you can fill your plate with food for 10,000 kip! That’s really good when you’re a budget backpacker. We took a day to go see the waterfalls, went to the pool, but the best thing we did in Luang Prabang was go on an Elephant Mahout day trip. On the way, the bus stopped at a rice whisky store where families had made whisky and wine (from rice of course). They put all sorts of crazy stuff in their whisky…. snakes, lizards, scorpions, bees….. It’s quite barftastic. And I have to say, I tried the snake whisky in Laos….. Yea, I might have tried it twice just so I could say I did. No more of that! You can see bits of snake floating around it. YUCK. Anyway, after leaving the rice whisky farm, we went to do our Mahout trip. We got to ride the elephants, train them and bathe them! I really liked giving my elephant a bath. I asked the guy what his name was, and couldn’t understand exactly what he was saying… It sounded like Tom Cruise, so that’s what I’ve been referring to my elephant as, Tom Cruise. Then, we went to the Buddha caves, which is pretty much two caves that have been shrined to Buddha and are covered in statues.

The landscape in Laos is by far the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. If you are in need of a vacation, go there.

Then there is the night life in Luang Prabang. Everyone goes to this bar called Utopia. It’s really cool, they have a lot of games there, volleyball, bizarre documentaries playing… It’s very much a neat place to be. But, like most things in Laos, it closes at 11:30pm. So from there everyone goes to… are you ready for this…? THE BOWLING ALLEY. Yes, it is legit. We made so many more friends there, as well. Laos is the place to go for friends.

After Luang Prabang, Tom and I decided to go with our friends Olivia, Ali and Rachael back to Vang Vieng….. What we were thinking, I’ve no idea. But we definitely wanted to spend halloween in a fun place! So on halloween, we went tubing, again, and then came back and dressed up as a bunch of bats. Turns out, there weren’t many people who dressed up. When you are in a city that has two main streets, you’re a bit limited in your resources. Regardless, round two of Vang Vieng was very, very fun!! But yesterday, we all parted ways. Olivia, Ali and Rachael went to Vietnam, Tom and I came to Bangkok, Tom went to Cambodia and I’m going to head south.

I can’t stand Bangkok. I miss Laos.

Which leads to more news about my school…. Since Bangkok decided to redirect flood waters, my city of Nonthaburi is still underwater. The organization I am working through is trying to find me another placement as backup, but I’ve decided if I am unable to teach here I’m going to go to travel in Vietnam and Cambodia and meet up with friends. And then, I am going to go to Australia and make loads of money doing random things at $20 an hour. HAHA. I’m hoping it will all work out though.

To conclude, I’m at an internet cafe right now and the 16 year old looking Thai girl on the computer next to me is skyping with an old white man. It makes me want to barf, so I’m going to end my blog post with that.

Talk to y’all (hopefully sooner rather than) later!!

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3 thoughts on “Laos: The Land of Snake Whisky and Sandwiches

  1. Lindsey, you are definitely the most interesting thing in these parts!! I love your blog! You are having a blast, I can tell. I love Tom Cruise, the elephant, that is! Glad you have a good head on your shoulders, girl. You are definitely my most fun granddaugther :). Your stories are great. You make me LOL!!

    Love you so much,

    Mia

  2. I love the elephant being Tom Cruise. Too funny. I’m also glad you weren’t alone in Laos. That had us concerned. But obviously we had no real reason to worry. What adventures you are having. Someday, you’ll be telling your grandchildren about the year you went to Thailand and rode elephants and drank snake whiskey. Your grandmother is right, you have wonderful stories and a real knack for showing us, in words, all about the culture you are experiencing. Love you, be safe.

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