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Houay Xay, Laos

Day 1

Happy birthday to Danny! Unfortunately this was probably the most boring day of our trip.

The 14 hour bus trip eventually ended. We hadn't stood up for about 10 hours and our bodies had moulded themselves into the shape of the chair. After stretching for a couple of minutes we caught a tuk-tuk to Houay Xay and found a basic hotel to stay at. The hotel was still serving breakfast and happily served us a bowl of cereal each. Unfortunately the cereal was something similar to Coco Pops (which I detest), so Danny ended up with two breakfasts. We wandered the main (and only) street of Houay Xay, which wasted all of 15 minutes, then went back to the hotel for a much needed sleep.

For the rest of the day we didn't achieve much. We walked around aimlessly, stopping to eat every now and then. Danny's birthday was celebrated with a banana cake we bought in Luang Prabang yesterday, the last one from our much-loved bakery. We are going to miss that bakery. I'm sure they will miss all the money we spent there too. Later in the day we became ambitious and ascended hundreds of steps to a temple on a hill to watch the sunset over the Mekong river and distant hills of Thailand. I attempted climbing up some more stairs in a hollow building for a better view, but was informed by the monks that only men, not women, were allowed in this particular building. I climbed back down again.

We made our way back down to the main street and found an outdoor riverside restaurant for dinner that was playing cheesy American music. As much as we would have avoided this sort of place back home, it made for a nice change from the local music we hear everywhere. The food turned out to be excellent: spring rolls (best ones yet), fried rice and a green curry. The bugs clearly thought the food was great too, swarming around us as we rapidly stuffed our food down. We didn't stay after we had finished eating.

On the way back to the hotel we came across a crepe stand, which looked like a perfect spot for dessert. They only had one item on the menu: crepe filled with cooked egg and drizzled with condensed milk. Not the best crepe in the world (little bit eggy for my liking). Amazingly we also found a bottle of Australian Penfolds Shiraz, the only wine in the entire town. We bought it and carried it back to the hotel room, where we drank it out of water glasses while playing cards. The wine wasn't great but we hadn't tasted Australian red wine for such a long time that we enjoyed it anyway.