Thursday, January 31, 2008

southern Laos

I'm writing from Pakse, the travel hub of southern Laos.  Just east of here are is a plateau littered with waterfalls which I'm planning to explore in the next few days before heading south to relax on one of the Four Thousand Islands in the Mekong.
It's really beautiful here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

in the capital of Laos

I've made it down to Vientiane. This city is a strange, random architectural mix of French, Lao, and what looks to be modern Chinese (read boring concrete boxes). Despite being the capital, the city seems pretty quiet, especially compared to the metropolises of China.

My plan at the moment is to take a bus further south to Savannakhet tomorrow or the following day.

Hope you're enjoying the winter - I'm busy avoiding it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hanging out in Vang Vieng

The internet access here is really expensive so I must be brief.

This small little town in the mountain has been completely transformed by tourism.   The streets are lined with guesthouses, restaurants, bars, TV bars, and travel agencies.  It reminds me of Pucon, the town in Chile where I climbed the volcano.  The surrounding mountains and rivers, though, are beautiful.  I'll probably spend another couple of days here exploring (bicycle rentals are cheap) and then keep heading south.  I'm taking plenty of photos to show to you, but I don't have the cable to connect the camera so you'll have to wait until I get back to China.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Luang Nam Tha and Luang Prabang

I'm having a great time here in Laos ( the 's' is silent).  The first thing I did was go on a 3-day trek through the jungle in the north of the country.  We got to visit two villages of different tribes to see how they live and how their lives are changing as Lao develops.  Our guide was from a nearby village, and his English was excellent, probably better than some of my students.  The trail that we walked on was built by the two villages we visited, and the food we ate was prepared by them as well.  A part of the trip price also goes to the villages to be used for community development, most likely for their schools.

After the trek I took a bus 200 km (but 8 hours) south to Luang Prabang, the tourist capital of Laos.  It was the capital of Laos for a while and is now on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites.  The temples here are amazing, and there are lots of them spread throughout the small city which is otherwise comprised of a strange mix of traditional Lao and French architecture.  There are far too many tourists here, but I can see why.  Walking around the city is quite enjoyable, and the weather is perfect.  Not too hot in the day, and a light jacket suffices at night.

After spending a few more days here I think I'm going to head south.

Take care.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

winter holiday: Laos

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Kunming in southern China, the first leg of my journey to Laos. From there I'll proceed overland, probably arriving in Laos in 3 or 4 days, depending on how slow I feel like taking things. I don't have to be back at school until the beginning of March, and I plan to take advantage of that time by exploring laid-back Laos. I'll keep you updated along the way as long as there are internet cafes.