Gotta Love Laos!!!

**** Sully wrote this a few weeks ago and we're now just able to update our blog. We're currently in Christchurch, NZ until March 5, 2016 - Then off to Sri Lanka! ****

Sabaidee!! That’s hello in Laos!

Wow. Laos. Amazing.

It has been a very calm slow tempo week here! I totally agree with all the people who say that Laotians are very easygoing!! I couldn’t write a lot in Laos because we were distracted but now at the airport I can!! First I wanna say how psyched I am to be like 10 days away from the Harts in New Zealand!! Next I’m gonna tell you that I’m not going to cover the Gibbon Express because hey… that’s Max’s (see: Zip-lines Everywhere!) story to tell! So after the AWESOME Gibbons Express we got onto our slowboat going to Luang Prabang. It was a 2 day, 1 night journey. It took an extra hour AFTER the website said the boat was to depart until it actually pulled out of the dock!!! The  ride to the town we were staying in (remember the trip was two days one night!) was 7 hours!! It passed much more quickly though because I reread The Maze Runner (#DashnerArmy!!) and because of those views… whoa! Soaring mountains covered in trees and crystal clear water all around us!!! When we arrived we hiked up a steep hill to get to our hotel! When we got there we got a wonderful surprise that Jay had booked three beds! It was a perfect setup and we didn’t feel like doing much so we ate dinner downstairs in the restaurant in our hotel. I had chicken wings (it said you get five but I got three!! BOOOO!!!) and they were pretty good! The next morning at 6am we trudged downhill to the slow boat and got things started again! Well not exactly. This time it took the driver 2 full HOURS to get us out of that port!!! Honestly… the fast boat was gone by the time we pulled out even though they left at 7:30am!! Along the way I met a 12-year-old boy from Switzerland! We exchanged text numbers and everything and have been in constant touch! His name is Mathias Gardaz. When we landed in Luang Prabang (6 hours later!) We bought a tuk-tuk ticket (I don’t know why we needed a TICKET!?) for ten bucks each (it was actually pretty far!) and headed towards our hotel! It was called the Luang Prabang Boutique House with a 8.7 on Trip Advisor and we managed to get our double bed room for the price of $20 per night for three nights! Jay’s a good negotiator. That night we went to a partial part of the Night Market and I got a coconut mango banana smoothie (all three of my faves!!) and some chicken satay in a stall. We headed back to our place and I started downloading a game called Block City Wars (NOT a copy-off of Minecraft but it’s made by the same company as Pixel Gun 3D!) which Mathias (my friend from Switzerland) had told me about (spoiler alert! It’s REAL good!) and had let me play on his iPad on the boat ride!

The next morning we skyped with the Nichols which was awesome!!  I did read a little and played Block City Wars.  Later on, we went out to a RICE FARM called the Living Land.  When we got there we met our guide and he explained to us that the Living Land had started with two families (12 people!!) and had become a 7 family organization! After that we went out to the rice paddies and walked on this muddy path in-between the rice squares! It was like walking on ice! No joke! I mean you would’ve expected it to be all squelchy and squishy but NO!! It was like all HARD!! After that we went into an empty field and Max and I hopped into it and in turns helped plough the ‘field’ (the mud) by following the water buffalo with this rope thing that went around it’s hump and you held onto the end of it and this big wooden log hung down from it which messed up the muck!! That was the third time on this trip I’ve been in mud and the THIRD time in my life as well!! After that we planted some rice right there in the mud we had ploughed!! After that we went back on the Ice Path and jumped into another square of mud and rice! The rice in this square was ready to harvest, so they had us use a scythe to cut the rice out at it’s borderline with the mud/water level! It was really fun as it was just a quick tug and…SNAP!! Anyways… after that we headed back to the outdoor HQ and our guide taught us how to carry rice like Cambodians Laotians and Thais did it!! He even filled the rice halfway in the basket!! The Cambodian one was a bamboo trunk over your shoulder but behind your neck filled with two buckets one at each end!! The Laotian way was a bamboo trunk except with one bucket and you balanced it on one shoulder instead of two!! The Thai way was exactly like a backpack except filled with rice!! After that we headed over to a workout machine where first you beat rice out of it’s stalks that we had cut onto a carpet of bamboo then you put it into this hole dug into the ground and used a teeter-saw except it had a short footlong bamboo (of course!!) pole at the other end so when you got off the teeter-saw the pole SLAMMED down it the hole and ground up the rice!! After that we made sugarcane juice which we’ve tried before in Myanmar and it was AMAZING!!! Once again it was OUTSTANDING!!!! After that we cooked sticky rice on a homemade fire and FOR THE LAST TIME to prove ONCE AND FOR ALL that I HATE STICKY RICE the second I caught a WHIFF of it I quickly made a retching noise (WARNING 10 seconds till’ BLASTOFF!!) and ran into the grass (NOT the rice) and BARFED!!! It wasn’t much seeing as I had only eaten sugarcane juice in the past 4 hours and then I headed back upstairs to be greeted by a meal with twelve plates (two guides 10 tourists) and guess what the main course was??? (SPOILER ALERT: STICKY RICE!!!!!) and so OF COURSE I did’t eat that but I nibbled on a DELICIOUS popcorn-like taco-chip shell!!! After the Living Land farm we left and went to the Post Office and mailed all those postcards to their destinations (if you got one it came from Laos!)

The next day, we went into the HUMONGOUS Night Market which was like 3km long! We bought slippers for the cottage and pencil cases for our cousins and for ourselves and other friends! After that we headed down into the treacherous food alley which was about 2.5 meters wide and crammed with people AND stalls! Near one stall I thought I saw something that looked like a WHITE leech!! It was totally gross! There was also a stall that had chicken heads with tongs!! I picked one up and held it next to Max’s ear for like five seconds then I ‘pecked’ him and he turned around and saw the chicken head and was like “aaaahhhhh!!!” and the expression on his face was just PRICELESS!!!! We eventually stopped at a buffet-like place where you pay 14k Lao kip ($1.65) to fill one bowl and you can only fill it once! I got a lot of things including crisps GREEN rice and RED spaghetti-like noodles!! After eating one bowl each we headed back to our hotel for bed. The next day was our last so we first headed off to the Market for fruit for breakfast and then dumped off 1.5kg of clothing at a laundry place! They use the Mekong river water (look up Mekong river on Google Maps and you will see how big and important it is to Laos!!) to wash our clothes witch is pretty cool!! After that we headed over to a restaurant for lunch where someone who had been on the Gibbon Experience with us had recommended and we had to cross a bamboo bridge to get there!! But when we got to the bridge we saw that the river had broken it! I’m glad we never walked across it though because if Level 2 current can knock it over… well I don’t really wanna put ONE toe on it!! Eventually a water taxi came and took us over to the island for 15k kip ($1.75) but when we got to the restaurant and looked at the menu we didn’t see anything we liked so we left it and went to a DE-lish pizza restaurant back on the mainland!! While we were eating we saw Mathias again! We talked about Minecraft and I gave him a server IP and so we will play together some other time!!!

Today we woke up at 6:20am and headed to The Luang Prabang International Airport and checked in at Lao Airlines! We then headed to our Terminal (19) and for some WEIRD reason we ALWAYS get a Terminal near the END of the airport!!