The first stop in the Southeast Asia part of our trip was Luang Prabang in Laos. Our main destinations in Southeast Asia were to be Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Laos was something of a last minute decision, as it was the most convenient place to access from China. After researching into it a bit more, I became increasingly interested in the country. We planned to spend time in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, before finishing off in Si Phan Dong, the 'four thousand islands'.
As it happened, things didn't go quite to plan. I will get to that later.. first let's take a look at Luang Prabang. A beautiful, artistic, vibrant UNESCO world heritage site in the heart of Laos.
The landscape of Luang Prabang is quite unique. The city is surrounded by rugged jungle, with the swampy Mekong Delta and Nam Khan river meandering though. The landscape glimmers with golden watt's dotted amongst the French provincial architecture which makes up the city centre.
Ben was suffering with a sore knee during our first day. We decided to go to a local doctor as he was in quite a lot of pain when he walked. The doctor said he had picked up an infection and prescribed him with a course of antibiotics. We were quite surprised that it was an infection, as he only had a minor scrape on his knee. We didn't think much of it at the time as we'd all had various aches, pains and ailments over the weeks. For the rest of the day, Ben rested in the guesthouse and I went to explore the area.
The guesthouse we were staying in sat directly opposite the famous Wat Xieng Thong, so this was my first port of call. I've seen a lot of temples during my trips to Southeast Asia, but this one really struck me. The glittering mosaics embellishing the walls are so intricate and beautiful. I spent some time admiring the small pictures and patterns. Wat Xieng Thong is a modest beauty.
The first guesthouse we stayed in really wasn't that comfortable, we had been sent there because our original guesthouse had overbooked. As Ben was still suffering with his knee and wasn't feeling too well, we moved to a more comfortable place nearby. Here we booked bus tickets to Vang Vieng for the next day. However, by the time we had settled into the new guesthouse, Ben had become quite ill. He couldn't keep food down and felt very weak. To add to all that, his knee was still causing quite an alarming amount of pain, considering the size of the abrasion.
We postponed our departure to Vang Vieng as the next day, Ben was extremely sick. We were worried that the antibiotics wouldn't work as he was vomiting so often - so, we decided to go back to the doctor. The doctor told us that the vomiting was not a side effect of the antibiotics (as we had thought), he must have contracted food poisoning. The doctor reassured us that the infection was controlled, so we went back to our guesthouse, feeling a bit more at ease.
That night, Ben did actually seem to improve. His sickness subsided and it seemed like he was coming out the other end. We decided to stay one more night in Luang Prabang, so Ben could rest up and get his strength back. There was one problem, the pain in Ben's knee still hadn't improved. However, his sickness had been so severe that we hadn't given the knee as much thought. It wasn't oozing at all, there was nothing about it, other than a slight inflamation, that seemed a cause for concern.
So assured we were that Ben seemed better, I decided to venture out of the city centre on the last day. I had been told that the waterfalls of Luang Prabang were among the most impressive in Southeast Asia, so I opted to see the Tad Sae falls. I took a walk around the area and discovered that beyond the waterfall, the turquoise water runs through dense forest.
I returned to the guesthouse mid-afternoon. I was looking forward to going for dinner at Dyen Sabai, an open-air restaurant secluded in the jungle. You have to cross the bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan river to get to it.
Horrified I was when I returned to the guesthouse that afternoon. Ben's knee was no longer swollen, the swelling had moved resulting in his whole thigh becoming red and extremely inflamed. This is when alarm bells really began to ring. An infection spreading could not be good news, but I'd never heard of one that moves.