But that's certainly in the past. They excelled. Not only did we get a shiny new Airbus inclusive of pilot with shiny American accent, but they shone in a couple of other ways.
(Luang Prabang International Airport)
The baggage checking crew detected Shane's Leatherman knife (a gift from Helen) in his cabin baggage. Doh. He handed it over to ground crew who committed to put it into our checked baggage. We doubted we would see it again...but it made it into our bags!
Tom left his newly acquired man-bag in the seat pocket of the plane.
Yep, one of ground crew happily sprinted back to the plane to retrieve it.
For us, it all just topped off extremely positive experiences of the majority of our time in Laos.
We both agreed that the one thing that we regretted in our trip to Laos was not having had a night in a stunning French Colonial hotel - we had drooled over them in Luang Prabang but resisted temptation.
On our flight to Vientiane, Helen brought the topic up again. Perhaps we should right this wrong. Vientiane was our last chance. Shane was being financially sensible... We flicked through the inflight mag replete with fine hotels in Vientiane... Yes, let's do it! Let's surprise the kids!
When we arrived in Vientiane we made for the Ansara, described by Lonely Planet as "achingly beautiful". But they also described Vientiane as full of chic French influence and spoke highly of its treed boulevards. We couldn't find any of this!
The Ansara reminded Helen of an Aussie Motel with pseudo French (at a push) exterior. After searching high and low for something approaching what we were hoping for, we settled into a spotless boring hotel and labelled Vientiane as that bland urban environment you associate with many larger Asian cities.
The magic just wasn't there.
Added to the fact that Lonely Planet spoke of Vientiane's lovely Mekong riverside...seriously?
In the end, the kids were wrapped anyhow, bouncing on the rock hard beds and inventing games in the same way they would have in a fabulous chic hotel...
The kids are noticeably more relaxed in Asia generally. On the other hand, Helen lost it with a tuk-tuk driver at the Laos-Thai border today. The guy quoted us 300 baht ($10) for the 4km ride into Nong Khai. Helen dug in. In the end he came down to 150. Then she argued with another guy. Got him down to the more realistic 100. We got to the vehicle and he asked us to put our bags on the roof. Helen dug in. No, we are not having you fill up your vehicle with locals at our expense!
Hey, Asia does that to you sometimes.
Goodbye Laos :-(
We're heading back to Bangkok on an overnight train to meet our dear friends Cameron and Jan, on their flight from Oz back to Norway, to relieve them of 15kg of our warm weather clothes needed for Nepal and beyond.
We plan just one night in Bangkok, then heading a couple of hours south for a few days seaside before flying to Nepal.
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom
Location:Night train to Bangkok