These past 10 days have been very busy! I found out that class was cancelled till the 25th due to the flooding in Thailand so a friend and I decided to head out to Laos. This was literally a last minute decision, and I am happy I went. We took a 12-hour night bus to the border of Thailand-Laos and then took a Tuk-Tuk from the border to Vientiane. So just a little sidetrack note: everyone i’ve ever talked to that’s been to Laos has said that it is the prettiest country. Well…Vientiane wasn’t. When we got there, there wasn’t a lot to do and the city was filthy (we later learned that their national festival was 2 days before we arrived and that was why there was trash everywhere). Anyways so I was expecting to cross the border and then be blown away but that did not happen.
Next destination was Vang Vieng. Now getting there was quite an experience. We took a mini-van (4 hours). It was a beautiful drive, we went through the mountains and it was amazing…. however, Laos does not seem to have any real roads…just dirt roads with a bunch of holes in the road. There was a girl in the van who kept throwing up…that was interesting; I almost thought I’d have to join along…
Vang Vieng was AMAZING! It reminds me of a college town, (actually more like a street). There were a bunch of little cafes and restaurants where you could lay down on huge couch like seats and watch all the seasons of Friends or pick out movies. We definitely spent a lazy day at those cafes and it was great! Anyways so Vang Vieng is known to be the tubing town. It’s surrounded by the most beautiful mountains in the world. So tubing in Laos is nothing like tubing in Texas. We rented out tubes for the day and then a tuk-tuk took us to the start of the tubing. Well you’d think that tubing would mostly involve a river but no…. you start out at a bar, and we got spray-painted. (I still have some spray paint on my leg that won’t come off…). Anyways so we danced at the first bar and then decided to go actually float the river. Well that was impossible cause the bars have kayakers that come and bring you to their bar… I think that the first 5 hours, we spent maybe 5 mins on the river, and went to 5 bars… it was crazy. The people there were really nice and from all over the world..Anyways, it was a great experience.
Oh and i went on a hot air balloon in Vang Vieng
The next day was probably one of the worst days of my life. We decided to take a night bus from Vang Vieng to Luang Phrabang (8 hours bus ride). Anyways the bus ride was absolutely horrible. Our seats were on the back row…no actual seats, just a sort of bench. We were seated in-between three other girls who would not stop talking… I mean this is a night bus…NIGHT being the key word. The bus had trash all over the place, and I swear the bus almost fell over a cliff. The ride was horrible…. But anyways on the brighter side, once we got to our destination it was awesome. We did the monk offering in the morning, which was a very special experience. We bought rice and bananas and sat on mats. A bunch of monks walked down the street and we put the food in their little bowls (I don’t exactly know the name for it). The rest of the day was just relaxing; we wandered around town and went to a couple temples. It was really great. Anyways it was a great trip, and I’m headed to Koh Tao (a beach in Thailand) this week. Classes have been pushed back to the 31st! I hope you enjoy the pictures!
Also, right after Laos I went to Chiang Mai(Northern Thailand) for about 3 days. All i did was chill and visit sooo many temples. But i got to talk to monks. There was this event called “monk chat” where people got to sit around and ask questions. I sat with 3 monks and overloaded them with questions. It was really interesting to see what their day to day activities are. Here are a couple things i learned:
1. Monks only shower once every 15 days
2. They only eat once a day
3. Their day consists of only sleeping 4 hours, meditating for about 6 hours and doing household chores for another 5 hours…
4. They think it’s hilarious when foreigners try to take a picture of them without trying to seem like it
5. The colors of the robs mean mostly nothing, apart from that there are 2 types of monks: forest monks and city monks. One of them only wear the same color and the other can dress however they want.
6. Okay so my first question to them was ” why are you allowed to talk to me?”….it might seem rude but ive always heard that monks arent supposed to talk to women. But they told me that they are as long as there is someone else with them as well. like a chaperone.
Here are all the pictures: