Our trip to Laos turned out very diferent than the one we had planned. We were hopin to spend 1 niht in Savannakhet, then travel to Vientiane (the capital) for a couple of days and then to Luang Prabang in the north. When we were in Bangkok we found that they were closing the capital from the end of Nov until the start of Dec for all tourists cos they were having a big conference. Imagine if they did that in London! So the plans had to change, there wasn't enough time to wait for the conerence to be over cos needed to be in chiang mai for a flight to Kuala Lumpur on the 6th of Dec. Instead we deceided to spend a few days in the south...the rain and delays in Hue mean't that it turned into 2 days in savannakhet. i think we will have to go back for another visit.
We decided to spend the first day having a wander and seeing the local sights (it was a pity that there weren't any!) We had a wander around and some lunch and headed to the Museum. We never managed to find it though as the map was a bit useless (Lonely planet books have a lot to answer for. I always thouht they were very accurate but from the description of our hotel and the actual standard, we weren't in the same place). We headed to the dinosaur museam where you had to understand french or thai to read the plaques. I was about to give the french a go when we got our own guide who had helped dig up the bones in Laos, and who traded bones with Mrs Ann in London, he asked us if we knew her, but had to admit that we didn't). The museum was in 1 room, and had a few bits of bones here and there. We got to hold some dinosaur bones though which i guess was quite good...? We wandered back into town and checked how to get out of the country, very easy as a ferry port with a 20 mins crossing to Thailand.
WE decided that we had to find something else to do the next day and got ourselves a guide called Mr Dun from the hotel who took us on a trip to the national park and to see a temple. He was so funny, although he was sad as he had no money to afford a wife or a girlfriend, and all he had was his tuk tuk, and it was only a small tuk tuk. I think that he was looking for a foreign wife cos kept telling us how beautiful we were (either that or he was hoping for a big tip). He took us to the museum to start with and drove us around outside cos it was shut. I don't think that we missed much cos me house looks bigger than the museaum. We stopped off at a zoo on the way and saw some more crocodiles, some cheeky monkeys, porcupines, a cat, a dog (didn't realise they were that unusual) and some ostriches. One of the ostriches had cut its neck really bad so we watched the local vets do their thing. we also stopped at a place that uses natural dye for fabrics. I think we were taken there so our guide could eye up the lasses working there.
When we got to the forest it was really pretty but we spent 2 hours walking round this lake and never really saw any of it cos the path as too far from it. Met locals in the woods, collect fire wood, collecting um from the trees and picking berries. WE went to see the temple after but i'm starting to think that once you have seen one you have seen them all. Mr Dun was going to take us to his sisters house for a spicy papaya salad(?!) with some leaves picked from the wood. Neither of us like Papaya and sue can't eat spicy food so we said we had to get to the ferry. We both wanted to go and visit a real Laos family but the thought of how rude we would look when we couldn't eat the food made us think it wasn't a very good idea.
We stopped in town for some lunch and then got the ferry to Thailand. It was a very cheap crossing (about 70p) but we must have looked very un trustworthy when we arrived as we had our bags searched. Do we look like international jewel theives or drug dealers?
We went straight to the bus station and were told the quickest way to Chiang Mai was via Bangkok. (I'm not really sure about that, but hey!) We took a 12 hour overnight bus to Bangkok, sat at the bus station from 4-7am and then got a 10 hour bus to Chiang Mai. It was like bein on a plane cos the gave us blankets, pillows, snacks, water and movies. Just a pity we don't speak Thai and the accent doesn't suit Brad Pitt very well. After 27 hours we arived in Chaing Mai.