The boat ride reached as far as far as Luang Prabang. The town itself was charming and would be perfect as part of a romantic holiday with a girlfriend. Rooms are well lit and a decent place can be found for as little as $20USD. A sunny afternoon in doing 'nothing' would be perfect for Luang Prabang. Tour operators around town could be found to set up tours or transportation to waterfalls, trekking, etc. There were street markets selling clothes and art. One street was dedicated to barbecue. Two or three days were long enough here. If I had stayed any longer, I would have lost ll of my money to the beaded-bracket cartel that I was giving all of my money to.
We left Luang Prabang to go to the town of Vangvieng for caving and tubing. I have heard about its reputation as a jungle frat party. It is a town where locals follow the natural cycles of the day and night while tourist men walk around shirtless and barefoot playing their drunken mind games with local girls late into the night.
But before we got there we had to get there. This turned out to be the most inconvenient part of the whole trip from a travel point of view and probably the best part of the trip from a photographic point of view.
The road south had been destroyed by a mudslide a couple of weeks before. The person who sold us tickets failed to tell us. So when we arrived to the roadblock, we had to disembark and walk in the hot misty rain over the mud to the clearing on the other side. I don't know how long it took or how far it was but it didn't matter because we had to wait for the rest of the day for the bus heading north. Each side of the mudslide became the final stop of the bus lines. We didn't arrive to Vangvieng until nightfall. An Israeli man on our bus had contracted Dengue Fever and was hurting pretty bad. Luckily I had my flash light so that we could read the guide book that had a listing of a hospital that we could drop him off at. We found a hotel, put down our stuff and made our way to the nearest restaurant.
The plan was to wake the next morning and go tubing down the river. That did not interest me at all as it would have been a frat party on the water. I decided to break up from the group and take a minibus to Vientiane a day ahead of them. I booked the nicest hotel ($50USD) making sure they had a swimming pool. I realized that a cramped minibus was a great way to see the countryside. I had thought I wanted companionship but really all I needed was my camera and the journey provided an amazing subject that never stopped presenting itself in front of my camera.
I enjoyed two days alone. I am very good at manage my time without others. Some people can describe me as aloof as I am traveling. Ever since I was young, I would travel in my own direction. This has always been my nature. So my day in Vientiane included walking around and photographing, finding a antique shop/coffee shop, etc. In other words, it was pretty lonely...
...but not boring.