After two days in the capital it was time to head south. First, the adventure of spending a night on a sleeper bus expected us, followed by very interesting experiences with local transport and local markets around the berautiful Bolaven plateau, where waterfalls are abundant.
After roughly 4 hours on the bus we arrived at the Northern Bus Station of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. While we first did not recognize any difference between the capital and any other place, the city bus at the bus station gave a first indication that a few things might be different after all. We spent roughly two days to discover how much Vientiane is different from the rest of the country.
After the very well visited and beautiful city of Luang Prabang we headed out to a much more tragic chapter of Laotian history: the plateau around Phonsavan not only contains 2500 years of history which has yet to be understood but also was a central place of action during the second Indochina war. Still today the war is an everyday topic since the population still suffers from the consequences of the war which was over more than 40 years ago. From Phonsavan we continued to Vang vieng, the mecca of all backpackers is located in a magificient carst landscape and until recently was the alcohol and drug capital of Laos.
After our visit to the far north of Laos we targeted another highlight of our trip: the UNESCO heritage city of Luang Prabang, the second largest city of the country. Sporting an international airport, a shore of the mighty Mekong river and being branded by the UNESCO made it no surprise that we were not the only tourists in town. Unfortunately it also shows with the local people dealing with tourists that they have learned a lot, particularly how to make money from the tourists.
After more than two weeks traveling around China, the time had finally come to leave the large country in the far south to make a major change. We had to adapt to a new spoken and written language, a different mentality, a different culture, in short, we had to adapt to South-East Asia. Laos is considered one of the poorest countries in South-East Asia and until a few years ago experienced very little tourism. However we noticed how this is changing…
Following our excursion to the Guizhou province, a less visited province in China, we headed back to the more common tourist trails in the south-western province Yunnan. While our day in Kunming mainly served administrative purposes, we quickly headed on to the mountains in the southeast of the province. Besides the world-famous rice-terraces, Yuanyang offers many minorities in a very small space. We completed our visit with a monster bus tour through the mountains and small villages.