Our time in Don Det (an island within Si Phan Don) was a relaxing way to unwind after the long days of exploring Angkor in Cambodia. We read our books, tubed and swam in the river, and ate as much of "Mama's" delicious food as possible. I still miss our usual shared breakfast of banana crepe with honey and potato omelet with baguette. Ryan is now addicted to sticky rice to go with his green curry. I don't recommend Lao Lao!
Besides eating and relaxing, Ryan fished with the locals but without much success. We joined the reception of a Laos wedding with lots of BeerLao and a terrible DJ. On the walk home we saw the Big Dipper in the sky, upside down. The most energy we exerted during our time in Si Phan Don was the day we rented a motorbike and drove to Don Khon for more sightseeing. Riding to the nearby waterfalls and through the scenic countryside dotted with water buffaloes and rice farmers was about as picturesque as it gets. The untouched beauty of both islands was pleasant and peaceful. Finally we peeled ourselves out of the hammocks and made our way to the capital city.
Vientiane is smaller than the other SE Asia capital's we've visited, which was a nice change of pace. We walked along the river, saw a famous monument, and noted the many monks in their orange garb.
Luang Prabang was our next stop, a quaint little town brimming with spas, baguette stalls, adorable hotels, and outdoor restaurants. Our guesthouse was in an alley off the river, complete with a gorgeous balcony that was never short on fresh bananas. We spent a day swimming in the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls and another exploring the historical city's sights. Each morning monks wind through the main streets collecting alms. Getting up at dawn proved worthwhile as we watched the monks' silent procession.
Our most memorable day in Luang Prabang was at Elephant Village. With a guide we rode together in a basket on an elephant's back, then progressed to riding on the neck of our very own elephant. High on their backs, we walked to the river where we bathed the elephants and went for a few unexpected swims along the way. A sunny boat ride, side-by-side massages, and a pedicure by the river wrapped up the evening.
Each night we walked through the bustling night market. In every direction were beautiful handmade gifts and fragrant Lao coffee. Dinner each night in town was an inexpensive and heaping plate of Laos noodles, vegetables, tofu and fruit, all stir-fried together. We explored several riverside bars in the evenings, sipping beer and mojitos as we chatted with fellow travelers. Ryan even got a chance to play some night beach volleyball with a friend from Busan who we met up with on his travel circuit.
Soon we were on a night train into Bangkok, which wasn't as simple as it sounds... Stay tuned!