We left Luang Prabang early, got picked up by a tuk tuk to take us to the bus station and witnessed long queues of monks receiving their morning Alms given by the local people.(Alms are in this case food donations that can be the only meal the monks have in a day) After the usual stop at a fuel station to fill up the bus, we were on our way to Vientiane just interrupted by a quick invasion of screaming men and women waving their grilled squirrels on sticks and throwing their baguettes at us.
It was a pretty hairy journey, as usual as our driver, aged around 16, negotiated winding mountain roads in thick fog and torrential rain with broken windscreen wipers. We didn't get much rest!! The driver's helpers cleaned the windscreen by leaning out of the bus door to throw buckets of water at it.
Ten or so hours later, we were at Laos' capital. There we got another tuk tuk into the city with a few French and Germans, and we found a very cheap, though filthy, guesthouse for two nights. Here it was very very hot.
Next day we explored the city, strolling along the Lao Champs Elysee, visiting their special Arc de Triomphe, the golden stupa where they keep the breastbone of Buddha and the Wat Si Saket temple with hundreds of Buddha statues in all sizes and forms. After the busy sightseeing we spend the evening at the Mekong River resting our tired legs and watching the sun go down.
The next day was another early start. Another tuk tuk to the bus station to take us to Savannakhet, a crossroads town in the south. Here we decided, after a nights rest, to head east, back across the border to Vietnam. We had a nice meal in a chilled cafe and prepared for the not so early start the next day, for a bus to Hue, which is very close to the coast.
Another day, another bus, 8 hours later we'd arrived. Another smelly room, but very nice landlady. After the best veggie meal we had yet, we walked along the promenade of the Perfume River, admiring the ambitious light display across the bank. The following day we embarked on a tour of the Imperial City, home to the former Vietnamese kings and their dynasties. This huge walled complex was partly destroyed by two wars as well as ecological disasters. Though what was left, was very beautiful. The restoration is being financed by North Korea. Many photos and four aching feet later, we planned, over dinner, our next move. Wherever we went would this time be by train!!
Hungry for beach and sun we headed south to Danang, the train was crowded but still much more comfortable than any bus. The journey was beautiful as the slow train clung to the cliff edge, winding its way to our next destination.
After I (s) rejected any help by the local taxi and moto drivers we ended up walking to China Beach (recommended by lonely planet). Eight Kilometers later, heavy backpacks, finding a beach but not liking what we saw, we gave in to a taxi driver who could take us 25km to our next choice, Hoi An.
Hoi An is a little town close to the sea and separated by rivers into islets. We found another clean but smelly guesthouse and lucky for us we experienced on our first evening the full moon festival. The beautiful ancient centre of Hoi An was lit just by lanterns no other light pollution and little children sold candle lanterns that you could set adrift on the river, which is said to bring you luck. Hmmm There are many restaurants and bars along the riverside creating a very lively atmosphere. The next morning we hired bicycles, cycled around a bit and and found one of the local beaches, just beautiful! We moved to a nicer hotel and decided we're going to stay here for Christmas.
Sorry no photos, computer's too slow...