Okay, so the laptop came and you all get a better insight of my travels in Asia. (Sorta; choppy wifi in guest houses and hostels is not for up-keeping a blog) so the last week of my internship was mostly finishing off small projects and of course a good bye lunch.
A BIG THANK YOU TO MY ROOMIES!!!! LOVE YOU A MILLION ALY & IDALIA ❤
Another big but relatively small event was my phone pooping. I was mid sentence Skyping with the mother and my phone turned off. Weird… Well I changed batteries, did everything to turn the Android back on which was in pretty good condition; nada. Right before travel month and knowing I had people to meet up, I was freaking out. I can luckily say it got fixed in less than 24 hrs with LG saying they’d send me a brand new phone free of charge (YAY warranty). Also meaning I had to send my phone back home… (2,000 some baht- 71usd) and buying a new phone (1,600baht- 45usd) so the problem did cost but in the retrospect of life changing or completely ruining a day or week. It didn’t.
Moving on to LAOS. Friday night I was standing on platform 5 ready to embark for my overnight bus to the most northern easter province of Nongkhai to cross the Friendship bridge to Laos. I was supposed to leave at 8:20p. 11:15p? eh same thing right? Sabai Sabai (relax relax) Well I was losing my cool at one point because “coming in another 2-3 hrs” translated to “coming until 4am” luckily 11:15p is when the delayed bus showed up.
After a groggy 11 hr bus ride I arrived to Nong Khai, met with with Michele and Crystal, got our visas and paid a bit more for straight transportation to our hostel and were in Laos. 680 baht for 3 night 20usd; can’t complain! We went to exchange money and now I have Indonesian Raphia, Thai Baht, US Dollars, and Lao Kip in my wallet.
Day 1: Saturday in the capital: Vientiane. Everything seemed closed but we still got to see Patuxai, That Dam, and the night market on the Mekong River water front. It seemed as if most people came out at night (which really was smart considering the heat). We questioned why it seemed like such a ghost town but something told us it had something to do with the Buddhist New Year; Song Kran, coming about celebrated by Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar to my knowledge.
Day 2: We lucked out with a hostel with free cooked breakfast and then decided to try to venture out of the capital because really it’s doable within 2 quick days. So we looked for the bus station to the Phou Khao Khuay National Park. Instead we found a guy with a van. He said he’d take us for a pretty good deal. SURE. We went with it and then found ourselves hopping into another van. Apparently he didn’t have the right tags to enter this part of the country… Ohhkaayy…. The next guy seemed cool too so we just went with it. Also we weren’t as suspicious since this was the second time being handed off like a drug onto the next car to take us through the next set of miles. (Also to note they drive American style so we were all backwards and continuously thinking we were going to crash or were on the wrong side of the world… one can say we assimilated)
On and on we went and ended up at the “Ocean of Laos” Nam Ngum Reservoir. It was beautiful and we decided to eat here. Once we were ready to go to the National Park the driver said it was too far Umm what?! Well we didn’t think our money was wasted because we still got to experience a location outside of the capitol and see the rural life of Laos as well.
Day 3: For the last day we prepared to go to the places that seemed closed on Saturday and go to Buddha Park. The park was actually small infested with many many Buddha images. The significance: beyond me; personally I though place to make tourists happy. From there we crossed our fingers to hope that the COPE visitors center was open. IT WAS! We walked in not really knowing what to expect and exited educated.
Educated on what? Well COPE is a foundation for Laos disabled peoples. It gets deeper. During WWII Laos was bombed A LOT by the US. To this day the bombs still go off primarily in Xiengkhouang province. It’s sad and amazing how people still live in the heavy dangerous areas (primarily farmers) and can’t do anything about it. There are still people who die and get injured by these bombs today 40% being children. It really made me look at Laos in a different way initially being another SEA country. If you go to Laos, go to COPE for sure, probably the top of my list.
Would I come back to Laos? Realistically no. It was a tad bit overwhelming and hard to get around. I also thought it was a tad more expensive than Thailand and very similar to Thailand overall. Given I’m basing off of 4 days. If I did I’d like to go more in depth to the province which is heavily bombed and travel south too. Regardless I’m glad I came and could see the country with my own eyes and can understand and converse about it with my students when they ask.
Next up Chiang Mai for Song Kran!