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Day 11: 127 Hours (Minus 102 Hours)

Luang Prabang, Laos

25 hours and six buses later, we have finally arrived to Luang Prabang, Laos. I can't believe that after a full day of sitting, I'm this exhausted.

Roxanne and I woke up at 6 a.m. the morning of the 29th to catch our bus. Keeva woke up at the same time to hitch a ride to Chiang Mai, and together, the three of us made our last journey down the touristy stretch of Pai. It only seemed appropriate that there was a slight rain before our newfound family separated. 

With several hugs goodbye, Roxanne and I hopped on the minibus, beginning a full day of traveling through two countries. I'll miss you, Keeva! That funny, cool, sweet wildcard definitely improved my travel experience.

After our departure, our trip went very much like this:

Bus left Pai at 7 a.m., May 29 --> switched buses in Chiang Mai --> stopped in Chiang Rai --> bus continued to Chiang Khong --> stopped somewhere in Chiang Khong to fill out visa forms --> bused to border --> crossed border --> took different bus to immigration --> bused to a different bus station --> got on a sleeper "VIP" bus --> bus broke so we switched to a different VIP bus --> drove 12 hours to Luang Prabang --> took a taxi through Luang Prabang --> walked through market --> made it to DownTown Backpackers Hostel at 8 a.m., May 30.

Busbusbusbusbus... So many buses. But we're here! In Laos! I'm happy to have finally made it.

The bus trek was pretty standard, with the expected confusion at every single bus change. Waking up from a short nap every time, Roxanne and I both felt delirious with each bus transfer, confused as of where we were each time we stopped.

The stop in Chiang Rai proved similar to the first several, where we were practically snoring when the driver came to a halt. However, we were able to wake up pretty fast with this one, excited to see the famous White Temple. It was even prettier (and thematically darker) than expected.

Beginning with a walkway through a sea of white hands, the temple only continued to impress as I worked my way inside. I accidentally followed monks around, watching as they took photographs with their phones and selfie sticks the entire time. What an unexpected juxtaposition.

The temple, in fact, is not really a temple. It is a contemporary art exhibit created by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. It discusses Buddhism through physical representations of desire, man's wickedness, the body, and the mind. Inside the temple is a fiery color scheme. The entire structure is captivating.

We left to continue our long ride once more. After a strange meetup with a shrieking man, who gave us our visa forms to cross into Laos and kept pretending to walk into walls or cut his fingers with scissors and then shriek loudly while doing so, we made it to the border. Our packs weighed heavily on our backs as we walked through.

Now, I'm not sure if you guys know this, but Roxanne and I are very important people. That's why we got VIP bus seats for the next several hours of our trip. Our first bus looked like this:

But because we are oh so important, and not because the very shaky bus's engine broke before departure, we switched buses into this classy baby:

What a wildddd ride. We pretty much slept during this stretch, waking up about every hour to prevent ourselves from rolling off the top bunk when going around a particularly sharp curve. When we woke up our last time, we, delirious as usual, had made it. Through this market filled with live owls and lizards, strung up (dead) chickens, baskets, jewelry, and lots of dead fish, we worked our way to Luang Prabang!

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