Sorry for the radio silence but I’ve spent the last 8 weeks drowning in culture and Australian men. Just kidding! They were British. So I thought I’d start the tale of our travels when Big Libs joined me in Laos after a fitful week of job interviews and some alone time with the most important man in her life, her horse Manti.
We arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos and stayed in a hotel that felt like a set design for Black Mirror. It was alarmingly cheap and very new but we seemed to be the only people staying there. Not much else happened here except the locals marvelling at Lib’s exceptional height. Libby also managed to lose the only bikini she brought for our 8 week escapade but luckily a local builder found it in the bin.
Next we moved on to Vang Vieng, where we planned to go tubing down the river as drunk as an Irishman at Cheltenham. Little did we know that it was here that Libby’s life would change forever. The toilets standards in Laos weren’t particularly impressive (if you fell in you’d probably just hold your breath and wait for the sweet release of death) but they were very low whilst in the jungle. After consuming too much beer for 11am, Libs ventured into the trees to relieve herself. After closing the door of the jungle shack lavatory, something fell on her head but she brushed it off (literally). Only after she opened the door did she realise it was an enormous black snake, slithering into the shrubs.
I had been playing ‘naughty jenga’ at this point and had stumbled out to locate my companion and make sure she hadn’t fallen in the river. As I headed towards the toilets, I witnessed a terrified Libby running full pelt down the muddy hill screaming in hysterics about the demon she had encountered in the bathroom. The mud made the entire scenario more comical as she slipped around like a very scared bar of soap. After extracting the story from a distraught Libby, we went round the corner to pee au natural. At this exact moment a local Laotian family strolled past, looking very confused probably wondering why this enormous pale giant was crying whilst urinating.
Next stop was Luang Prabang, a UNESCO heritage city (I’m still unsure what this means but it makes me feel cultured using the term). The journey to this famous city was about as enjoyable as tonsillitis. Our day of drinking had caught up on us and at every view point we stopped along the way, the only view I had was the inside of a toilet bowl. I spent the majority of our time in Luang Prabang, hungover trying to remember a time when my stomach wasn’t doing its own version of the Macarena. It was here we would watch the Giving of the Alms. This is where tourists wake up at 5am, pop on their best temple skirt/rug and feed the hungry monks. As you can imagine Libs and I were not thrilled about waking up before the sun but we did it. You’re welcome monks.
Now comes to a section of our trip that has scarred me and will stay with me for the rest of my life. We made the very questionable decision to stay in a Laotian homestay and experience local village life. After floating up the Mekong River on a long boat where we looked at the beautiful surrounding views (aka slept the entire way), we arrived at the village. It was very very very rural.
We were told we’d each be sleeping in a family’s hut for a night. Once the sun had set, a little girl led us up the muddy hill to our beds. It was 7:30pm when they turned out the lights and we laid in the hot wood shed, trying to forget about all the insects that were probably crawling towards us. Big Libs needed to pee for approximately 75% of the night but knew if she left the hut she probably wouldn’t return. At 4am, we ran as fast as our mosquito bitten legs could carry us towards the boat. Here is a picture I snapped of us.
I also witnessed Libs wash her hair, fully clothed, with a bottle of water in the pitch black darkness. It was a memorable sight to see. I’ve never been so glad to get back on a boat.
Overall Laos was very beautiful, very wet and full of animals that potentially could’ve killed us. The real highlight was when Libby’s feet were compared to the feet of the villagers, where 99% of them do not own shoes.
Next stop Thailand!