Savanakhet to Siem Reap

Perhaps it’s only because ‘Savanakhet’ sounds like ‘Savannah,’ but it reminded me of a slow, Southern town in the States. On the day I visited, the streets were nearly empty, the pavement hummed in the constant heat, and people lurked around in what shady nooks they could find. I tried to locate the local museum (Savanakhet also has a dinosaur museum, which is hilarious to me, though I didn’t attempt to visit it). Continue reading “Savanakhet to Siem Reap”

Vientiane and On

My mood, you will be happy to hear, improved upon arrival in Vientiane. Not that Vientiane’s so wonderful – it’s just a city. But it’s a city that would exist whether or not tourists came and that’s all I really required. Continue reading “Vientiane and On”

Vang Vieng

I have rarely witnessed anything as truly ludicrous as Vang Vieng. Droves of backpackers originally flocked to this town because of its position on the Nam Song surrounded by limestone karst formations and tons of caves, and in response to the influx, Vang Vieng has completely whored itself out. Continue reading “Vang Vieng”

Luang Prabang

Between the Mekong and its Nam Khan tributary, Luang Prabang is palm-tree-lined street after street of French colonial architecture, travel agencies and Westernized restaurants and cafes. The city has been placed on Unesco’s World Heritage list, so it’s quite seen after. The first thing I noticed on arrival is that there seem to be more American tourists here than Lao. I thought perhaps I’d unknowingly flown to Charleston. It’s an enjoyable city, however, with the typical, ultra-relaxed Laos atmosphere, and a huge night market with lots of cool linen clothes. Continue reading “Luang Prabang”

Luang Nam Tha, and Along the Nam Ou

Laos is not China, as the three Americans and I immediately realized upon arrival in sleepy Luang Nam Tha. We’d had a long day of taking a minivan over the most dreadful roads I’d experienced in China, crossing the border (totally hassle free – I got a month-long visa and all my RNB exchanged into kip without so much as having to wait in line), and finally riding in the back of a pick-up with a German girl who’d come (as Chris said) from Lhasa with BO.  Continue reading “Luang Nam Tha, and Along the Nam Ou”

Higherland Inn

I returned to struggle again with the mountain, and the mountain won.

I’m just back from three amazing days staying at the wonderful Higherland Inn on the side of the Cang Shan. The Inn is run by Li Ping (sp?), who could not be nicer or more helpful. It’s peaceful up there, and beautiful. It’s cozy and the food is great. I wanted to live there, but all good things must come to an end. Continue reading “Higherland Inn”

Dali

Yesterday, I viewed the three pagodas outside of Dali. According to the Lonely Planet, these pagodas are “among the oldest standing structures in southwestern China.” Also according to the LP, they are free, but in fact, they are walled in and cost Y121 – Y62 if you have an old student ID (which I do). The pagodas are at the bottom of the park, and behind them is a never-ending series of temples with stairs behind leading to yet another temple, like those Russian stacking dolls. I hadn’t gone far when I was abducted by some monks and bundled into a nearby temple. Continue reading “Dali”

Yangshuo to Dali

At 6:o0 a.m this past Thursday, I stumbled down the stairs at Lisa’s Cafe and Hostel and found all the doors locked and barred. I had to catch the 6:30 express bus to Guilin, or I would miss my 8:50 sleeper train to Kunming, so when I found myself locked in, I panicked and ran all around the hostel, rattling doorknobs. Continue reading “Yangshuo to Dali”