Luang Prabang, Laos
This morning's task was to send home a few souvenirs to take the weight off our backpacks. We walked up to the post office and bundled up two packages in fairly small boxes. The sign indicated that sending packages by sea would be much cheaper, although it would take two months to arrive. We weren't in any hurry. We presumed it would be fairly cheap, similar to other packages we had sent home throughout Asia, plus going by sea would make it even cheaper, but we were mistaken. It came to $130. That put a downer on the start of our day.
We considered hiring mountain bikes again but decided we had undertaken enough exercise this week and hired a scooter instead. This was the first time we had ridden a scooter in a country where they drive on the right hand side of the road. After a few interesting manoeuvres at various intersections we found the highway and just stuck to the edge of the road. I'm glad Danny was driving.
Our aim was to visit Tad Sae waterfalls. After driving for an hour we knew something was wrong. We tried asking a few locals where we were on a basic, not-to-scale map, however they had no idea what we were asking and were unable to help us. Our hunger had overcome us by this stage so we stopped at a service station to have our pre-packed lunch of cheese sandwiches. It was the first time I had eaten cheese in a long time and it was pretty disgusting. It was the Laos version of Kraft singles, but worse.
After our romantic lunch we started driving back towards Luang Prabang. Fifteen minutes later we passed a gigantic sign directing us down a dirt road to the waterfalls. I'm not sure how we missed it the first time. So down the dirt road we went, to a small town where we were required to pay an entrance fee, then pay a local man to row us down the river to the falls, where we also had to pay to enter. There are fees for everything in Laos. When we finally reached the falls we were fairly disappointed. They would probably be stunning in the wet season but today there wasn't a whole lot of water. There was no big waterfall, no water rushing past, just a series of mostly dried up cascades surrounded by trees. It looked pretty in the postcards. We took a quick walk through the no-water falls then sat down to eat today's cake (what else?) . We didn't stay long. Near the exit were elephants performing tricks, led by men with machetes in their hands. Again, we didn't stay long.
Dinner tonight was at a restaurant overlooking the river, but as it was dark by 6 p.m. we couldn't really see the water. We tried Laos eggplant chips (excellent) and Laos chicken curry (peppery but nice). We chose a European bakery for dessert, which served a fantastic mixed fruit pie with crumble topping. Only one more day of bakeries before we have to go without for a while. How will we cope?