Our morning entertainment.    Just sitting on the balcony watching whatever is happening.

We think this hotel might just have the most beautiful views of any place we have ever stayed . . .   Today’s blog is full of pictures from our balcony and from our walks along the river!    Hard to leave  . . .

Early morning along the river
Another . . .

Another very warm day in Laos!    We were awake early this morning.  4:15 or so seems to be my morning wake up!   😖.   I lie in bed for awhile and then get up to check the internet.   This is usually an ideal time to upload pictures into the blog.  It seems that everyone else is sleeping!   😀.   This morning, it was ideal to be up early because we could watch the sun come up over the mountains!    It is just mesmerizingly beautiful here!    

Ah . . .
As we had breakfast. 😀

We decided to take a little walk before breakfast.    Down along the river.   It was alive with activity!    Lots of Koreans come here to vacation and there was a large group of them taking boat rides along the river.   There were hot air balloons and a glider.  And the light was beautiful for photos!   We then walked back to the hotel for breakfast, which we enjoyed at a table right on the pier!   This place is special!

Across the river . . .

Then it was off to walk in the hillside – to experience this place and to explore some caves.   We started with a blue lagoon – not so blue right now because they had a lot of rain here a few days ago and the water was a bit cloudy . . .   And then we headed into this deep cave to explore.  We used torches to help us see . .    It was slippery in there and not very easy walking.  We were glad to get ourselves out of there in one piece . . .   😀

First you must cross this sketchy bridge. It wobbled with every step . . .

As we walked along, Laing talked a little about the education system here for children.   All kids go to school from age 6 through high school.  That is, if they can get to school . . .   When Laing (now age 32) started high school, there was no school in his village.  He had to walk for two days and one night to get to the school.   Then he would sleep with 23 other boys in a dorm room with bunks.    The biggest issue for him was that he never got breakfast – only lunch and dinner and he was always hungry . .   Amounts of food were not overly large  . .     After that year, he moved in with a cousin so he didn’t have to walk so far and could manage more food . .   Hard to believe at 14 years old, he had to struggle so hard to get an education .

At the Blue Lagoon
This woman – out in the middle of nowhere!

The legal age for marriage is 18 years old but many kids marry much earlier.   Especially if there is not much for them to do.   Unfortunately, this means that there are many very young mothers and fathers!    There is a fair amount of divorce here.  However, both parties have to agree if there is to be a divorce.  If one party wants to get divorced and the other one does not – he/she needs to wait for three years to marry again and this can take place even if there is no divorce . . .  😳

Just walking along the countryside

And then, we toured an organic farm.   Lots of fruit trees.  Laing grabbed some star fruit off one tree for us to sample.   We visited the goats and the property and then stayed there for lunch!   Very slow service but wonderful (big) meals for $4 each!     The fresh spring rolls here are to die for . . .    Then we headed back to the hotel .   It was about 2:30 or so and very toasty!   We stopped for some fresh cucumbers.   Such fun.  Laing bought an entire bag for $1.25.    He washed a few of them, peeled them, and sliced them up for us to sample . . .   There were loads of shops along the streets selling these bags of cucumbers . .  Most of them are bound for the cities.  

Peeling and slicing cucumbers
From the window of our van.

Once back at the hotel, we decided to walk across the bridge and explore the other side of the river.  Which we did – along with an entire herd of cows!   Cows just meander around over here, munching on whatever they can find along the road . .   They seem to know where they’re going . . .

And the sun sets across the river. Looking out from our balcony. . . .

Tonight we’re going downtown for drinks and dinner . .  Tomorrow we head off again . .    

Afternoon walk with the cows. 😀
Here’s our white wine from the box?! 😏    Three dollars for a generous pour!  
Can’t beat this dining spot . . .

We had dinner along the river  . .   Moved from place to place.    We started at this funky restaurant, where you had to sit on the floor.  It wasn’t all that comfortable . . . So we decided to just order drinks there.  Gin and tonics.   Served the gin in a highball glass, tonic from a can, limes on a plate.   We had to ask for ice . .   😳😳    On to another place for wine and some sharing plates.

Back at the hotel for course number three.  Cognac for some.  Wine for others. Sticky rice with mango for me!   So delicious!

Martha and Laurie release a lantern into the sky! Courtesy of our bar waiters!

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