Getting ready to go

The_Traveler

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It seems a little silly but I start getting ready for a trip months in advance.
The tickets, etc are all bought, my equipment is comfortable and I increase the amount of workout I do at the gym (although I taper off a week before so I don't hurt anything).

I haven't been to Laos for 7 years and I expect the changes will be significant. It is the least visited of all the SEAsian countries just because, except for Luang Prabang, there isn't much for rich tourists to see.
There is no train system, roads are horrible and the long distance buses always break down.

Laos is land-locked and except for the Mekong all the rivers are quite shallow and the river boats are quite small - like very large canoes.

The people are wonderful, they take their Buddhism seriously and they are, or were, scrupulously honest.
Lao Beer is terrific.

I don't really think about the trip very much, not more than 10 or 15 times a waking hour.

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oldhippy

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Having major trip envy. Enjoy
 

JustJazzie

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Viewing these as one who has never left the country, and I find them fascinating.
 

Nevermore1

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Have a safe trip! Any room for a stowaway in your luggage? I've been wanting to go back to Thailand for a visit but it's so hard to get enough leave at work to make it worthwhile.
 
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The_Traveler

The_Traveler

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As bc_steve can vouch, traveling in SEAsia is perhaps the best adventure one can have. Very safe, just difficult enough to make it an achievement, totally interesting from any viewpoint and enlightening.Traveling by local transportation (and not tourist specials) will give you an unparalleled experience. If I thought I could never travel again, I would take to my bed and never get up again.

The experiences and the sights are just breathtaking.
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Our boat stopped on a local sandbar for a potty break (yes, it was cool. this is the highlands)
Men to the left, women to the right
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And this group of water buffalo (?) thought that the sand bar was their's and one stood and glared at us until we left. Can't find any reference to white water buffalo that looked like this except for this one blog with a picture that was taken just 5 or 6 miles downriver from where we were. These are actually differently shaped than the water buffalo of Myanmar but still large, smelly and intimidating to farangs.(foreigners)

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The_Traveler

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Spent some time today with my travel partner going over what stuff we are each taking, etc.
This is a good pairing; we are both taking Sony A7s as our primary camera.
I've traveled with him before and it worked out well.

Three weeks from this moment I will be at his house to sleep over for an early morning trip to the airport.
It's hard to wait but I have purposefully left lots of little chores to keep me busy up till the moment.

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia with China on its Northern border, Thailand on its West, Vietnam on its East and Cambodia on its South
It is a very poor country and has a Communist government. The health care system is bad beyond words and anyone who can, goes to Thailand for healthcare.
The one international tourist attraction is Luang Prabang, a city of total beauty. Vientiane the capital is your basic slightly grimy small Asian city.
The people are mostly Buddhists, incredibly polite, friendly and honest. Except for Luang Prabang, the only thing to see is the beauty of the country.
It has very few roads (in 2007, there were 2000 miles of paved road in the entire country - and much of that paving was rudimentary), a tiny railroad system, some airports.

Most travel is by bus or boat.
All the rivers are quite shallow (meaning boats are like large canoes) except for the Mekong which forms its Western border with Thailand.
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We fly from Washington to Bangkok (with a stop in Dubai to change planes) with an elapsed time of about 18 hours. We get there at night and then take a short flight to Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand then, over the next two days, cross into Laos (#1) and travel by bus up into the north of Laos to our first real destination - a small city called Muang Sing (#2). It is ~5 miles from the Chinese border and fairly close to the center of what is known as the Golden Triangle.

Then we spend about 20 days in a loop around northern Laos.
We may travel from Phongsali in the north by a type of boat seen in the second picture in the first message in this thread.
The boat trip down from Phongsali will mean a night or two home-stay in villages that are not reachable by any road.

Eventually we will end up in Luang Prabang, an incredibly lovely city right on the confluence of the Mekong and a small river. We will spend a couple of days there, then fly out to Bangkok, then one overnight and fly home.

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My happiest memories of that trip are from sitting in a restaurant in Luang Prabang overlooking the river, drinking Beer Lao and watching people cross a bamboo bridge.
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pgriz

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Lew, I wish you a safe and satisfying trip. And I hope when you get back you'll give us a taste of your travels. I can't go where you go, but I can read what you write, and see what you show. Looking forward to it.
 
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Paul, I hope sometime that you and your wife do get to travel to these places. It is the most exciting and satisfying thing I have ever done.
Not always easy or comfortable but memorable.

Our trip may not be the same as the one below because it isn't the rainy season but the fact that the vehicle actually had rope in anticipation of this happening.

The interesting part is about 1 minutes 40 seconds in.

 

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I was there a few years ago - the buses haven't changed, nor the conditions. Stay far away from Vang Vieng - don't even stop there. Drunken Australian kids (sorry!) all over the place and have wrecked the place.

Beer Lao is the best beer on earth. Just magnificent to sit and watch the sunset on the Mekong, eat mekong seaweed and sip on a beer Lao. I'm envious.
 

Usul

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I totaly agree with you that SEA is one of best destinations one can choose for traveling. I was there 3 times and in 2 month I'm going there again. This time it will be the Philippines. I see you know everything about your future trip but I know almost nothing because I have so much work now so there is no time for preparation.
Have nice trip and take a lot breathtaking pictures.
 
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The_Traveler

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I was there a few years ago - the buses haven't changed, nor the conditions. Stay far away from Vang Vieng - don't even stop there. Drunken Australian kids (sorry!) all over the place and have wrecked the place.

Beer Lao is the best beer on earth. Just magnificent to sit and watch the sunset on the Mekong, eat mekong seaweed and sip on a beer Lao. I'm envious.

Couldn't agree more with everything you said, especially the beer Lao part.

I totaly agree with you that SEA is one of best destinations one can choose for traveling. I was there 3 times and in 2 month I'm going there again. This time it will be the Philippines. I see you know everything about your future trip but I know almost nothing because I have so much work now so there is no time for preparation.
Have nice trip and take a lot breathtaking pictures.

Have only been to the Philippines once and for just one hour so I didn't see much. :1219:
Knowing about travel in SEA is like knowing how to raise your first child; nothing goes exactly the way the way books tell you.
 

LaFoto

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Wow, we're going to see some really wonderful photos as of the beginning oft March heute in TPF, I assume! That is quite something to look forward to! Have a very safe trip, the two of you.
 

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