What a stinker of a journey to Laos, Vientiane. 23 hours with a stressful border crossing, at which both me and J were short of the required 38 dollars (39 for a passport pic as well!) for a visa. We had enough for the 35 dollars which we had been told, but hadn't factored in the 'weekend overtime' rates for the visa issuers. Of course not. Many had the same problem but thankfully an American guy had some spare and was bailing everyone out, lending a few dollars here and there!
After a night in Vientiane (which looks lovely and by far the most relaxed and quiet capital city we've been to) we took ANOTHER horrible bus journey to Luang Prabang. Funny to see the 'conductor' turn on the air-con when the other 6 or 7 foreigners had got off at Vang Vieng! The roads were so winding and we didn't seem to be making any progress, although we did get there within the 10-12 hours we had been told to expect. Saw some pretty amazing steepling green scenery on the way, too.
Luang Prabang seems lovely and the people of Laos appear very friendly so far. The hotel, Phashoke Guest house, is one of the best we've stayed at, 100,000 between 2. It's clean with nice wood panelling everywhere, a clear and modern TV, air-con and fan and free tea or coffee anytime!! There are a lot of foreigners here and you can see why. The architecture is pretty, the pace of life is slow and relaxed and there are beautiful waterfalls nearby, one of which we are going to go to tomorrow (probably). Found a really cool bar called Utopia last night, complete with a large volleyball pitch! Feel a bit ropey today, them large beer Lao's are quite lethal.