Laos Photo Gallery

I've been in Laos between March 26th and April 4th, 2000. I flew from KL to Bangkok on March 25th then took the night train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, arriving in Nong Khai on Sunday, March 26th in the morning. From Nong Khai I made it to Vientiane with a combination of taxis, getting the visa at the Friendship bridge. What follows below are excerpts of the emails I sent to my fiancee in KL while I was in Laos (she had to work and couldn't join me).

25.03.00, Saturday, KL -> Bangkok -> Nong Khai

I'm in the train to Nong Khai (the border to Laos) right now. Tomorrow morning I'll cross the Friendship bridge and enter Laos. I'll go to Vientiane, the capital. I' ve just read that it is extremely difficult to send and receive emails in Laos. That's because there are no internet companies in Laos and all cybercafes have to call Bangkok to connect to the internet. In other words they have to make an international call. I'll go to Vientiane (the capital) and then probably north to Luang Prabang. I'll probably stay the whole time in northern Laos.

26.03.00, Sunday, Nong Khai -> Vientiane
Here is the weather forecast for Laos:

Tomorrow: Sunshine
Day after tomorrow:  Sunshine
Day after day after tomorrow: Sunshine
Day after day after day after tomorrow: Sunshine
Last day of my stay in Laos: Sunshine
and the weather forecast for Malaysia:
Torrential rain the whole week

Today I made it to the border at about 9:30am (can't believe I got up so early). I went straight to Vientiane (pronounced 'Vieng Chan'). It's the capital, but it's a surprisingly quiet town with very little traffic on the streets. It's also a very small town.

I just walked around the whole day and had a look at the temples. In Vientiane I am able to send and receive email because my mobile phones work (I connect with the Thai networks).

The day after tomorrow I will leave Vientiane and my phones will no longer work. Also, only in a few towns there are cybercafes, so maybe I won't be able to send emails.


27.03.00, Monday, Vientiane

In Vientiane nobody wears glasses on the streets. They only wear glasses in the offices. In the whole town there are just maybe 6 or 7 opticians and just one sells products for contact lenses.

In Vientiane we are at the end of the dry season. It hasn't rained for months and the streets are full of dust. You get very dirty when walking on the streets.

Tomorrow I'm going to Luang Prabang by bus. There my mobile phone won't work anymore, but I can still send emails - just have to go to an Internet Cafe.

By the way, do you know that Laos is a communist country ? It is called Laos PDR for People Democratic Republic.

29.03.00, Wednesday, Luang Prabang

Was so tired yesterday. The night before I could not fall asleep, so I got up at 5:30am and took the 7am bus to Luang Prabang. And here starts the nightmare... It was no bus, it was a truck with a hard bench and very little space inside. It took the truck almost 13 hours to reach Luang Prabang (about 400 km distance). An endless trip through the mountains... I thought, maybe 7 or 8 hours, but no, it were 13 hours... The funny thing is that the truck left punctually at 7am. By the way, the hotel where I am staying is quite nice - only 10 US $ but very nice (aircon, WC + hot shower, towels etc.) Laos is an incredibly underdeveloped and poor country. It's hard to find things to buy as there are no shopping centres.

30.03.00, Thursday, Luang Prabang

Today I was not too well. Maybe I have some flu. So I didn't do much. Tomorrow I'll visit some caves and then I don't know. I might fly to Bangkok on Tuesday at 16.45 or I might take the boat along the Mekong to Huay Xai (two or three days), from Huay Xai take the bus to Chiang Rai in Thailand and from there fly to BKK. Still don't know.


31.03.00, Friday, Luang Prabang

In the meantime I have had a good night of sleep (which I really needed) and woke up at 11:30 this morning. This afternoon I went to the Kuang Si waterfalls, a nice waterfall a little bit outside Luang Prabang.

I have some flu - funny thing, being on the edge to nowhere, somewhere in northern Laos, with a flu. I should have stayed the whole day in bed and avoided the sun, instead I spent an active day and even got wet clothes at the waterfall.

01.04.00, Saturday, Luang Prabang

Today I was again in Luang Prabang and visited more temples and a museum. The weather is so-so, clouds but no rain.


03.04.00, Monday, Luang Prabang

In any case tomorrow I'll fly to BKK (16:45). Here in Laos it is very hot and dry. Absolutely no rain.  Today I went again to the waterfall. I took many pictures of locals (grown-ups + children).
In a pharmacy I saw a lot of products against intestinal worms. Apparently this is a problem in Laos.

04.04.00, Tuesday, Luang Prabang -> Bangkok

I'm completely wet.... Lao New Year is approaching and groups of Lao kids and teenagers are organising street-blockades, where they throw water on everybody who passes (to symbolise the coming of the new year). It's 1.30pm now and half an hour ago, while on the way to my restaurant, I passed such a street blockade. I got completely, absolutely wet - my shorts, my T-shirt, my underwear....  Luckily today is a hot and dry day. I should be dry again in one hour or so... (in time to catch the flight to Bangkok at 16.45). Unless of course they throw water on me again...

04.04.00, Tuesday evening, Bangkok

I'm in the hotel in Bangkok right now and am not feeling too well. This afternoon at the airport in Luang Prabang (Laos) I had to rush very quickly to the toilet. I had diarrhea (really liquid stuff coming out). Something like this happens to me for the first time since I have arrived to South East Asia last August. I have eaten the most weird things and never got serious stomach problems. Apparently the food hyhiene in Laos is one level below the other countries where I have been up to now. Probably it didn't help that for about one hour I had wet clothes on this afternoon.

Not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow, because it makes no sense to rush to an island (Koh Samet) for just one night (if I have to catch the plane on Friday at 12pm, I have to be back in BKK Thursday evening). If I could catch a later flight on Friday, I might leave the island on Friday morning.

05.04.00, Wednesday, Bangkok

Today I didn't do much, because of the diarrhea problem (this morning the shit was liquid like water... last time this happened to me was in January 1993 in India). I just stayed in bed and took some anti-diarrhea pills. I was hoping to go somewhere, but it's just too hot outside and I need to relax.
I changed the flight to KL on Friday from 12 (noon) to 17:10 (there was no flight around 3pm). I'll be in KLIA around 20:15.

Internet access in Laos

This is a bit out of date, but maybe interesting:
Internet access in central and northern Laos in April 2000 was  available in
  • Vientiane: several internet cafes
  • Rates: 300 Kip / minute (1 US $ = 7500 Kip)
  • Vang Vien: at least one place, "Planet Online"
  • Luang Prabang: at least two places, both on Photisalat Road. One is the Planet Online (close to the Scandinavian bakery) and the other is Avancee Informatique (close to the marketplace).
  • Rates: both charge 450 Kip per minute.

Comment of Henk Burgler:
At least another one in Vang Vieng. At a guesthouse on the leftside of the mainstreet (river on your right)
Same rates as Planet Online
Did not see internetcafes / email services north or west of Luang Prabang.

Copyright (c) Alfred Molon 2002