Tag Archives: waterfall

Luang Prabang in Laos

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Girl's shoes abandoned at the night market

Luang Prabang definitely shows off it’s French influences. The quaint Laotian town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so it has a certain look to obtain. Most of the restaurant and guesthouse signs have yellow-gold raised wooden lettering on a brown wooden background. There is a never ending supply of cute restaurants and cafes to tickle your fancy.

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The night market

Luang Prabang Night Market
Having come from eye-level markets in Thailand with each vendor having their own upright stall space, the low tents with produce displayed on the ground at Luang Prabang were a new, somewhat unusual sight for my eyes. At first glance it seemed quite a drab place but once I entered the long tunnel of tents, I was emersed. Clothes and bags were in their plenty, as well as jewellery made out of used bullets. It was easier to bargain for a good price here than in Thailand. So much so that I had bargained and agreed a good price for a bag for my friend before she’d even seen it. Thank goodness she liked it and bought it!

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Veggie food (apologies about the blur)

Street food
A few alleys filled with street vendors lay just off the night market. There was barbecued meat on sticks, and veggies galore. I filled a bowl full of vegetarian delights–noodles, rice, spring rolls, and prawn crackers. It cost 1 euro 50 cent. Definitely worth it!

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One of the pools at the falls


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Kuang Si waterfall


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A quiet reverie

Kuang Si Falls
Kuang Si waterfall was a spectacular sight of clear turquoise water. It’s about a forty-five minute tuk tuk/sawngteaw ride outside of Luang Prabang. The price we paid included the driver waiting for us until we returned at a premeditated time. Perfectly clean turquoise pools sit at the bottom of the waterfall with thick branches to jump off. A bridge at the bottom was the perfect spot for photo opportunities and to see the water cascading down the cliff face. Myself and a slew of others followed two Irish friends who had been at the falls a few days previous. We trekked up the left side of the waterfall and when we reached the top we began to make our ascent down it (yes, down the actual watery waterfall, full of it’s rocks and water). At first a little gate led the way, then as we went further down, short metal rods stuck out of the rocks to guide us down to a private pool where we jumped off rocks a few metres high. Of course we had great fun and many GoPro videos of energetic jumps were shot.

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Hilltop view

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Young girls selling at the bottom; Orna's temple outfit, aka my scarf; view from the top

Hilltop view at Wat Com Si Temple
We climbed a couple of hundred steps up to the banjaxed-looking temple in the centre of Luang Prabang to get a view of the city and Mekong river. It was a few kip to get up there. The view was nice, but probably better to go at sunset. We bought little doll keyrings off two girls at the bottom. They told us we were beautiful with gorgeous smiles. Sometimes I’m not sure if they actually mean it or are just reaming off something they have been thought or thought to believe.

I didn’t quite make it up at the crack of dawn to watch the daily Alms Giving Ceremony where monks get donations of food from the public. Monks rely on getting food from the local people and Luang Prabang has become famous for tourists to ogle them in their daily activity. Part of me was glad I didn’t go to watch.

A night on the town
A few of us decided to do as the tourists do and go to Utopia bar. It’s a cool, chilled venue with good music to dance to. Which I did. It also has a beach volleyball court. That I didn’t do. After a dance and a few gin and tonics, we went on the Luang Prabang Rite of Passage–the bowling alley. It’s the only place that stays open after 12pm in the town so it was an absolute must. A bunch of drunk tourists bowling and drinking more beer was exactly what it was, with those more intoxicated playing atrociously!

Relax, Relax, Relax
One day I only left our room to eat dinner downstairs. I was feeling a little ‘off’ and probably getting worn out from the hectic travel plans. My lovely, dear friend Orna was kind enough to bring me breakfast in bed, snacks for our movie afternoon, and a takeaway dinner. It was definitely a much-needed pyjama day. I think when you’re travelling you can get caught up in the adventure of it all and forget that a day of rest can be just as good.

Getting lost
For quite a small town I found it difficult to find my way around. If it wasn’t for the three others I was with I would have been constantly lost. My confusion was a combination of water bordering three sides of the town and the identical signage. Thanks guys!

If in Laos, this town is definitely worth a trip.

Where I stayed:
We wandered around to try find somewhere with a reasonable price. We eventually followed a guy on a motorbike that had two beds in a room for 5 euro each so we went with it. I wouldn’t recommend it though. The toilets were smelly and we had to scale the gates when we got back from our late night out.

A bit of spice in Pai

Apparently there’s a few hundred corners on the route up to Pai (a small town in North West Thailand) from Chiang Mai. You get advised by others to take stomach-settling tablets for the three hour journey. We didn’t bother. We were grand. Stomachs of steel. But it can depend on how crazy your mini bus driver is!

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The dorm and common area in Spicy Pai

As a backpacker you constantly get tips on what to do and what not to, where to stay, and good food places. We listened to some people and booked into Spicy Pai ‘hostel’. It’s not so much a hostel but a rustic bamboo hut with leaf roof and bamboo-made bunk beds. It’s pretty cool. Twenty six people in the open dorm with mosquito nets to keep the outdoors off you, it doesn’t keep the cats away though. 

Friends of mine from home had been in Pai a few months before and had both thought of me when they were there. They thought I’d love the small, artsy town in the mountains. They were right.

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Sunset at the canyon

Being part of the backpacker community makes you lose your inhibitions and make friends so quickly. An hour after arriving to Spicy Pai I saw a gang about to set off somewhere and asked them what they were doing. They were going to the canyon to watch the sunset. We were invited along so myself and Orna hopped on the back of some motorbikes and off we set. It was a beautiful location with the sun setting behind the mountains. We headed back to the town to the night market. The street food was amazing…some deep fried vegetables in pastry and an Indian kebab. We treated ourselves to a few purchases also as the prices are so good–€2.50 for a pair of cut off denim shorts!

That night we socialised in the common room–up a bamboo ladder and into the open-air room with cushions on the ground and leaf roof. We made three Irish friends–Lawrence (Larry, Big Lucky), Sean, and Donal. It was a breath of fresh air to hear their Irish accents. I was actually beginning to miss it! It ended with a night of drinking games, dancing in Sunset bar until the small hours, and running home along the dark road back to the hostel.

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At a waterfall in Pai

The next day was spent wandering around aimlessly, visiting a waterfall that wasn’t good to swim in, and scheming a swim in the pool at the Circus School hostel which was a bit too cool for school for our liking!

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White Buddha

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Scooting about

We rented scooters on our third day to go see some sights. It was our first time to drive them. We went to hot springs (not a great idea on a scorching day when all you want to do is jump into a cold pool), a waterfall, the white Buddha on the hill, and the Memorial bridge. The best part about biking around is the freedom–stopping when you want, the breeze in your hair, and the scenery.

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Orna on her scooter

We headed back Chiang Mai for one more night and were welcomed ‘home’ by our hostel owner!

Two Days in Langkawi

What can be done in two days in Langkawi?

1. Jet ski to the islands
2. Drive/scoot around the main island

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Langkawi islands

DAY ONE:

We splashed out on this tour. It was between €50-55 for a four to five hour jet ski ride to four of Langkawi’s ninety-nine islands. But let it be said, it was worth it.

Us three girls headed off on our two-seater jet skis with our two English friends with me on the back of the Malay guy’s one. He bombed it over waves as I clutched onto his tiny waist and flew up and down as we skirted the sea.

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Our friends Ben and Craig at the lake

Stop one was a fresh water lake in middle of a sea island. According to a local guy the story on how it got there is too long to explain. Jumping into fresh water with no sand and opening your eyes with no stinging is a dream. Getting back onto the dock is a little less dreamy and involves lots of laughter from onlookers (me) as others fling legs and arms in all directions reminiscent of, well, walruses.

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One of Langkawi's ninety-nine islands

We dropped by Eagle island but saw no eagles so went to two other islands with beaches to snorkel and lie in the shallow waters while chatting and thinking of nothingness.

Word of warning:
Don’t brush off the small, black, prickly plants if you don’t want to come out with black sore spots on your foot that need to be pounded with a flipflop by the instructor and doused in lemon juice (Orna’s ouchie-booboo).

One of the highlights was being able to drive right onto the beaches from the jet skis. The thrill of flying across the water was amazing too. My skills weren’t so great over choppy waters so I preferred bumping around the place on the back.

Second word of warning:
When plans change and you need to ride back to shore with your English friend Ben, and he decides to take a sharp turn which makes you fly from the vehicle and the propeller tries to take your bikini bottoms from you, use your reflexes and grab onto them for dear life. I’ve no idea what may have ensued should they have been taken by the water.

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Sunset at Pantai Cenang beach

Dinner and drinks on the beach while watching the sun set is a great ending to an adventurous day.

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Temurun waterfall

DAY TWO:

We rented a car for €17.50 between three, including insurance.

We visited the cable car (but the wait was 1 hour so we declined) and browsed the ‘Oriental village’ in the blistering heat. We also swam at Temurun waterfall (where we randomly bumped into our two English friends) and Seven Wells waterfall. Unlucky for Aisling, she tumbled off a slippy rock down into the bushes. The massage from the previous cascading waterfall a distant memory.

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Ornaments at Seven Wells waterfall

Another evening of beachside drinks and Langkawi is complete.