Laos – “Cop Tchai Lai Lai” [South East Asia Series 2019.20]

For anyone who’s ever read my blog you’ll know that I’m a planner. I’ve got a spreadsheet for the places I visit, with information about my buses, flights, hostels etc.

I have never changed my (basic) travelling plans, like changing flights nor trains.

Until Laos.

Arrived in Vientiane and only stayed for a night. Had then planned to stay for 3 nights in Vang vieng and 3 nights in Luang Prabang.

Stayed for 5 nights in Vang vieng and 1 in Luang Prabang.

Now… everything I read and what everyone told me about Laos was that I would love Luang Prabang and that Vang Vieng was a “party backpackers town”. Fair. Can’t completely disagree.

But what others forget to tell you is that when you meet a certain group of people they are worth every single plan change.

As I arrived at my hostel in Vang Vieng I met Amy from the UK who introduced me to the rest of the group. Jayme from Scotland, Patrick from Germany and Zach from Canada. They had just said goodbye to Sarah who went to Vietnam.

All solo travellers who’d met at different stages and decided to spend Christmas together.

And so did I.

Vang Vieng can indeed be seen as a party town, but there are non-party places to stay at and incredible things to do, from kayaking or tubing down the river, incredible hikes, visiting the nearby blue lagoons and, if you’re brave enough, getting a motorbike and just going out, exploring wildly.

Luang Prabang got my full attention for 1 and a half day which yes, was probably not enough, but I’m getting the feeling I’ll be coming back to this side of the world sooner rather than latter, so I’ll come back to the places I want to see at a slower pace.

Luang Prabang is a very picturesque city and people are extremely nice. Once or twice I got stopped by children on the street just playing with sticks or running around, which never happened in Vientiane or Vang Vieng. I visited Phousi Hill, the night market, Haw Pha Bang and took 2 hours to do a tour and guided meditation with https://www.orangerobetours.com/.

All of it was amazing and I’m glad I spent a bit of time in Luang Prabang but yes, another day would have allowed me to go to the waterfalls which I know just be gorgeous. But travelling is not just about the places you visit, it’s very much about the people you meet as well.

I can not begin to describe how happy I am I’ve stayed with “Team Speedo 2.0” in Vang Vieng until the 25th. I laughed for days, I heard incredible stories and we saw Vang Vieng together.

Despite the already upset stomach (“upset” is putting it mildly) after only 3 days on this side of the world, I could not be more relaxed and feeling like myself again.

To Jayme… you are an incredible woman with this crazy inner strength and probably one of the best listeners I’ve met. Your laugh is absurdly contagious and I honestly can not wait to come see you in Scotland. Thank you for the help, the tips, the chats about books, travelling trips (with all it’s less talked about bits) and for just being a there for everyone.

To Patrick… I honestly do hope your Carla (motorbike) takes you to all the places you want to go. The happiness in your face with the most simple things (like pork belly whatever thingy you ate) will be stuck in my mind forever. Just like that “listening face”. Thank you for the good times, the random chats and for indulging my FamVan idea 😉

To Zach…. mate… where to begin! The craziest, tallest and sweetest 24 year old Canadian I’ve ever met. I don’t know what your plans are for the future, but please don’t ever change that energy and the ability to look at things in such a chilled way. Thank you for all the “Cop Tchai Lai Lai”, all the “Tow rye”, the creepy bathrooms selfies and now, my new phone background picture.

I’ll miss you all (more than I thought I would) but I hope we can all meet once again, at some point, somehow, somewhere in this crazy world.

Cop Tchai Lai Lai, you amazing humans*