I’ll be honest, Luang Prabang didn’t really do it for me. It’s one of the highlights of any visit to Laos, and I did like the city, but I didn’t fall in love with it like most people seem to. Maybe five days wasn’t enough time. Maybe I had such high expectations because everyone else seemed to love this city, and I had built it up too much in my head. Maybe I was burnt out on temples. Maybe I was just burnt out in general and aching to be back home with Andy.

The bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was amazingly beautiful and more scary than any theme park thrill ride. The mountainous journey involved twisting narrow roads that clung to the edge of a cliff with usually nothing to prevent a vehicle (like our bus) from tumbling down the side should the vehicle take a turn too quickly, swerve to avoid oncoming traffic, or just glance away from the road. A girl sitting behind me and Jo actually screamed a few times because she thought for sure we were a breath away from deforesting a few hundred meters of rural Laos with our bus.

However frightening the trip was, the views were stunning. I gazed out the window for hours at the deep valleys and tree-covered mountains that could’ve been a Bob Ross painting. If you’re wondering why I don’t have any pictures here to show you how pretty it was, please see above. It’s hard enough to take pictures in a moving vehicle under normal circumstances, but when the roads are so windy you often end up traveling south when your destination is north, it’s really not worth even taking the camera out of the bag.

When we arrived in Luang Prabang in one piece, Jo and I got a room from a guesthouse owner who came to meet the bus, and then we had dinner with a guy we met on the bus. The next day we found a better, cleaner guesthouse which included WiFi and a shower that could be pointed away from the toilet.

Finally we started to explore the city. Temples were everywhere, but as I mentioned, I was getting a little tired of seeing temples after weeks of traveling through temple-littered Southeast Asia. We walked through the night market a few times, which was interesting and enjoyable since no one harassed us to buy anything. We tried many different local restaurants for dinners but usually stuck to JoMa cafe for lunches. After traveling for weeks, it’s comforting to have a little western food, and bonus that they have free WiFi.

It was during this time that I decided to book a flight home to see Andy for two weeks. I couldn’t pull myself out of my funk and I felt like I was wasting my time on the road when I so clearly wanted to be somewhere else. Somehow I found an affordable ticket just eight days out leaving from Hanoi. After about a week of hanging out with Jo in Laos, I boarded my flight to Hanoi and she spent a few more days in Luang Prabang. Maybe I’ll have to go back some day and have a Laos do-over so I can appreciate the country when I’m in a better state of mind.

Want to see more pictures of Vientiane,Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang? Check them out on my Facebook page: Laos

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16 comments on “Twists and Turns and Too Many Temples

  1. Matthew Cheyne

    It’s one of those sucky things about solo travel. When you set forth on your adventures the last thing you usually think is going to happen is that you’ll get lonely for somebody or that your own personal issues will come up and rear their own ugly head. I know from experience from when I lived in Sydney in 2001 that you can never really escape these things. You can manage to distract yourself for a while but they come back with a vengeance later on.

    One good thing has come from it all though and that is that you know for certain that you can’t do without Andy for any extended period of time without these feelings coming up. I think you’ve really got two options here; the easy one is simply to do all your traveling with Andy from now on. The other option which is considerably harder is to confront your own feelings and work through them to the point that you can be on your own for an extended time without them affecting your traveling experiences.

    As for your time in Laos, that bus trip sounds a little on the scary side for me. I probably wouldn’t have screamed but I would’ve sweated like crazy, had my heart run at a million miles an hour and probably had a panic attack or two to boot!

    1. Ali Post author

      I think I always knew I’d miss him, I just didn’t realize how painful it would be. I don’t think I’ll ever do any travel to this extent without Andy. If there’s a good reason, maybe a week or two, but no more than that. It’s not worth it. As for the bus ride, it was definitely scary, but I just kept telling myself the driver has done it a million times, and I distracted myself with the gorgeous views.

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Andi! Just had 2 great weeks with him in New Zealand, now 6 weeks until I see him again back in Europe!

  2. Christy

    I can imagine how hard it must be to be away from your guy for so long. I would probably start to feel the same way. If you are not enjoying yourself, then I think you made the right decision. Maybe you can both go back together someday. 🙂

    That ride from Vang Vieng to LP was insane. We were told to get a seat in a 8-10 person van instead of taking the bus and I’m so glad we did. At least it felt a little safer. But the girl in the back threw up all over the van. lol

    1. Ali Post author

      Ugh, I can’t imagine having to continue on in that van after someone threw up in it! Yuck! Andy just met up with me in New Zealand for 2 weeks, and I’ll be back home in about 6 weeks, so we’re almost done with being apart 🙂

  3. Erica

    You are just too darn cute with wanting to be with hubby! I am SO not a solo traveler and always give major props to you for continuing your adventures.

    We have also had a few bus scares. I had to meditate myself to sleep one night because I was sure if I died it would be less painful if I was asleep. /sigh

    1. Ali Post author

      Aw, thanks Erica! Meditate yourself to sleep…I should learn that trick!

  4. Cynthia Scarborough

    Sounds like a white-knuckle bus ride for sure. Remind me if I go to Laos to sit on the side of the bus that is away from the precipice.

    I’m sure Andy is anxiously awaiting your arrival!

    1. Ali Post author

      Cynthia, sit on the left side of the bus if you’re traveling to Luang Prabang from the south. And yes, Andy is very much looking forward to my return, as am I!

  5. Amanda

    I’m starting to get worried abut how much I’ll be missing my boy when I’m gone for up to 6 weeks this summer. 🙁 Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this bit of Laos too much. Though, I must say, that first photo is gorgeous!!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Amanda! You can handle 6 weeks, it’ll suck, but it’s doable. And you should be able to get decent internet in Europe, and the time difference isn’t horrible. Make sure you have fun even while you’re missing him!

  6. Nomadic Samuel

    It’s totally understandable that you would feel this way about Luang Prabang. To be perfectly honest, the temples here are not of standout quality when compared to other destinations in the region. What I really enjoyed about the city was just how laid back it was compared to other hectic places in SE Asia; however, it sure is awfully touristy though!

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Samuel! It definitely was a relaxed and laid back atmosphere. I probably would’ve enjoyed it more had I been in a better frame of mind.

  7. Kim

    Ali, I’m so glad you listened to your heart and booked a flight home to visit Andy. 🙂

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