Arriving in Luang Prabang – January 1, 2016

May 31, 2016 4:53PM JST

The smelly space in the Rock Hostel was still terrible but much better than the previous night. Probably the air from outside refreshed the air inside. Amazingly (well, at least to me, it was surprising), there were people smoking inside. I guess it was common in Vietnam. But then, people could not smoke within the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel. I suppose it was probably because the Hanoi Rocks Hostel was owned by Vietnamese but the Vietnam Backpackers was not (I think that was how it was).

I asked people around if I could share a car ride with someone. Eventually, I found two (I don’t remember where they are from at all, maybe Germany?), whose flight was one hour earlier than mine. Because I still had time before leaving the hostel, I decided to go to the lake where we saw the New Year’s Celebration the last night.

It was only about 5-10 minute walk from the hostel. I followed the map provided by the original receptionist from the Vietnam Backpackers Hostel. There were bunch of tourists, but not too many, flowing around the lake area. Wasting no time, I explored the bridge and the temple very quickly so I could return in less than an hour, as that was all I had. Taking photos here and there, I successfully returned on time.

The two fellow travelers used the free app Uber to call a local car driver. The driver arrived shortly. We didn’t talk much on the taxi or maybe I just don’t remember. It was just very brief since we were all going to take flight. The cost, if I remember properly, was $5 per person.

The flight was supposed to be 12:55, direct flight from Hanoi, but the flight ended up delaying due to ‘supposed’ technical problems for about eight hours! It was probably due to lack of people, because there was virtually no one in the waiting area. With nothing to do, I laid back and slept most of the time.

When it was around 8-9PM, we were ready to get onto the plane. The plane was combined with three flights, since each flight did not have many passengers. I supposed because it was maybe the first day of the year when everyone was celebrating the New Year with family and friends.

It was only 1hr 20min flight. I ended up talking to someone sitting across my row of seats parallel to me. Since it was a small plane with two seats next to each other on both sides of the plane, it was not difficult to relay message across. The man (well he is only 22 at that time) I talked to was from Toronto and I was happy to see someone also from Canada. Daniel P. was an alumni from a prestigious acting school in New York. He was travelling and planning to go into acting industry after his two-month travel in Toronto. He picked Toronto for his future career because Toronto has less competition than New York, which is quite reasonable. He said that he could only play comedy character because of the way he talked, which I did not really understand, but he was clearly a comedic person.

Greetings from Daniel

After our plane landed on the land and we went through security checkpoint, I discovered that I didn’t need a tourist visa to enter Laos while the rest did (the Torontonian and another man coming along) when I was following others to write the form. Somewhere in my mind, I wished I could have the visa in my passport at least, because I did not have any photo visas in my passport, just stamps.

Common way of flying around in SE Asia
Deserted Luang Prabang Airport.

We looked around at various ATMs outside the airport and none of them seemed to work with our credit cards. Eventually, we somehow found one lone ATM that actually took our credit cards. We shared a mini shuttle bus afterward and we each went to our hostel. Daniel apparently accidentally booked very expensive hotel there – like $120 per day, which shocked both of us, since mine was like $7 per day. I was the first to be dropped off. I exchanged the contact with Daniel, but we never ended up meeting. I arrived at my hostel Kounsavan Guest House (really, it was really a hostel, rather than a guest house because it had many rooms with bunk beds and separate toilets just like a hostel would). Like usual, I booked this guest house last minute in Hanoi and I relied on many recommendations on the Hostel World website, which is probably where most backpackers book their rooms.

After saying goodbye, I quickly grabbed my backpack and showed my proof to the receptionist. The receptionist was very young – maybe a teenager or almost 20 or something, and he quickly kindly showed me my room, which was upstairs. Since it was late, not many people were sitting outside, and those who sat outside all relaxed by reading books and just sitting there.

Paying minimal attention to surrounding, I hurriedly went off to bed, which was not hot, but rather perfect temperature, since Luang Prabang is more in the northern part of Southeast Asia.

Just one portion of Kounsavan Guest House

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