day 26. last night in koh lanta
day 23 - day 27. hello paradise (arrival and stay in koh lanta)
view from our sun mattress at our hotel.
hammy: it takes 2.5 hours by taxi (including 2 ferry rides) to reach koh lanta island from krabi airport. the air is balmy, the beaches are wonderfully sparse, and the water is warm and oh-so-clear. we didn’t do much in the way of photos here, but here’s a recap of our time spent:
- we read our kindles and both manage to finish a book each.
- I consume countless pineapple shakes.
- G is officially sick, and I have a very mild form. so minimal eating on our part, though the food turns out to be kind of a weird mix of thai & tex mex, neither of which is done very well.
- we enjoy massages on the beach to the sounds of ocean waves.
- I attempt snorkeling for the first time, solo, as G is sick and has previously been. the corals are teeming with sealife, but i become seasick after 1 hour of bobbing around in the ocean. darn those expired bonine pills! i pass on lunch and stay on the speedboat for the 2nd hour. I quickly recover (somehow i was seasick but not boatsick), and the captain of the boat takes pity upon me and throws pieces of fruit to attract tropical fish. i clap in delight.
- we get sunburned (though mine is worse than G’s).
day 23. goodbye laos
departing vientiane airport at 7am
hammy: did you know that the Lao currency (kip) is not convertible to any other currency after you travel outside of Laos? and if you pay in US dollars, change is always given in kips. after spending all our kips before arriving at the airport, our last minute splurge for coffee at the gate results in change of 4,000 kips (50 cents), darnit.
day 22. dinnertime in vientiane
entrance to amphone restaurant
hammy: famous for being on anthony bourdain’s show “no reservations”. we showed up at 7pm and it found it to be very literal, no reservations needed, empty!
G: i don’t know what bourdain was smoking but two thumbs down from me! amphone was my waterloo, ending 22 days of a clean and functioning GI system…
day 22. ending a leisurely ride down the mekong
2 uncomfortable bikes with non-functioning brakes, circa 1952
hammy: we biked everywhere in both luang prabang and vientiane. such a nice way to take in the city and enjoy the breeze. you really can’t go too fast, since the brakes are questionable, just a nice leisurely pace. the idea of it is very romantic. a whole day rental will set you back $2.50. I tried sitting on the back of G’s bike in LP and the horrified hotel staff yelled out “no no!”…not meant for anyone over 50 pounds.
day 22. edible art
latte art from joma bakery
G: we got an unexpected but amazing surprise upon ordering a latte. for the record the coffee ended up being terrible…details, details.
hammy: technically G ordered a “hot tea” for me, but after multiple rounds of “latte?” “hot TEA.” “latte?” “no, no, hot TEA” they still brought out a latte. i was in the middle of trying to explain i wanted a tea but noticed this lovely art on the latte, so i took it as a sign that i should accept it.
day 22. relaxing over a morning snack
coffee and bread at scandinavian bakery
G: it’s official - we are burned out on site-seeing and are switching to lounging mode.
day 21. arrival in vientiane + romantic dinner by fluorescent light
tired hammy with winnie the pooh cup-o-noodles
G: it’s 11p and we’ve finally checked into our (shady) vientiane hotel…time to eat! oh wait, everything closes at 10p in laos. we feast on cup-of-noodles at the local M-Point Mart.
hammy: i love cup o’ noodles, so was secretly happy none of the restaurants were open…i just noticed i seem to be wearing the same pair of pants in every picture so far. i promise i had 4 pairs in rotation with laundering every 5 days or so!
day 21. beautiful but painful journey to vientiane
landscape at pee stop number 5
G: day 21 finally brings us our first travel horror story - the “VIP bus” from luang prabang to vientiane. having heard so much about the beautiful scenery, we opted for this 8-hour bus over the 1-hour plane. the scenery was absolutely gorgeous…unfortunately the “VIP bus” had a max speed of 30km/h and the trip took a >13 hours and what seemed like 47 pee stops to complete. it should be noted that the difference between a pee stop and a bathroom stop is there is no bathroom in the former.
hammy: i should say i saw this coming. our three options were: 1. 45-minute flight on lao airline (questionable domestic transit record, although international was fine) 2. $250 for a private minivan 3. $15 each for VIP bus. we had read on forums to avoid the VIP bus and take a “minibus”, but the hotel manager in LP said he had never heard of a minibus. the scenery was indeed beautiful, but i have a borderline narcolepsy whenever you put me in a moving vehicle (plane, bus, boat, heck even movie theaters), so i was basically sleeping fitfully for the entire 13.5 hour trip in a < economy sized seat. thank goodness we took motion sickness pills, as advised, because i have never experienced worse shocks on a vehicle in my life - literally a boat on the road!
day 20. goodnight and goodbye luang prabang
speeding motorcycle on a moonlit waterfront