When we decided to leave Cambodia, the gentleman we bought a ticket from in Siem Reap said it would only take 24 hours on a bus to get to Vientiane, Lao. (Laos if your from the western world) The distance we traveled was about 1000km by minivan, VIP bus, and tuk tuk. In the end it took nearly 55 hours to get to our destination. In between Siem Reap and Lao we had a very unpleasant ride with 19 other tourists (and our luggage) plus the drivers family crammed into an old Mercedes 12 seater van. It was horribly awesome.
After that we had an unexpected stop at the Lao border because they were still celebrating the new year and decided to close the border. We stayed with a really nice guy and his family in the sleepy town of Kong Stueng Traeng. After a good nights rest we walked across the border, got scammed and had to overpay otherwise they would not give us our passports back at the immigration office. (very normal) :)
Then it was off to Pakse, Lao and then a sweet sleeper bus to Vientiane. My mom unfortunately got a screwy position in the bus under the AC unit and besides being crammed under the vent, had to dodge drippy water all night. After a non stop bumpy ride to the capital we were dumped river side to find the next few nights accommodations.
We stayed at Mixay Paradise Guesthouse for 4 nights and during those days explored all the major temples in the city center, watched sunset at the Mekong river, went to numerous night markets and ate some pretty fantastic food. One of the temples in Vientiane is over 500 years old and is the only temple the Siamese didn't destroy during the ancient raids. Pretty fascinating stuff.
As I write this we are in Luang Prabang, Lao which is quite possibly my favorite city in South East Asia. Its located at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers about 300 km north of Vientiane. It is very quiet as there are no clubs or big chain stores such as 7-11 or M-Fone. Nearly all the business are locally owned and operated and because its the down season where there are far less tourists than usual, things are even quieter and inexpensive. Luang Prabang was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list just a few years ago to protect it from being lost.
While here we have already visited all the main temples in the city center such as Wat Xieng Thong, Mount Phousi, Wat Chom Si, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham as well as the old Royal Palace which is now a fantastic Museum. Tomorrow we will be riding elephants through the jungle with All Lao Tours and then will be spending the afternoon at the Kuang Si Waterfalls or (big waterfall). Then perhaps another day of massages and markets and off to Chaing Mai, Thailand. I'll try to post more images this next couple days but its tricky to post while doing all this adventuring.
Below are a few images from our stay in northern Lao.