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Luang Prabang

LAOS | Tuesday, 27 May 2008 | Views [1628] | Comments [1]

Amy:

 

I will try to find the words to describe how beautiful Laos is but I doubt that I will be able to do it justice.  Our first impression came when we flew into Luang Prabang on Tuesday.  We could see the lush, rolling, tree covered hills with rivers winding their way through the valleys.  It was a beautiful 1 hour flight.  The population of Luang Prabang is approximately 30,000 and we were staying in an area of town that is sandwiched between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers.  The streets were quiet and the scenery included beautiful Wats, giant trees, that provide much needed shade, and slow long boats headed up and down the river.  The city is a Unesco Heritage site and therefore has many regulations in place to help it retain its character.  We went to the night market and enjoyed how relaxed the atmosphere was compared to the night market in Chiang Mai.

 

We spent Wednesday touring around the city visiting the Royal Museum, several of the Wats and just enjoying the atmosphere and scenic location of the city.  It was very hot and sunny so we were very glad that our room had air-conditioning.   We climbed up to a 100m high temple to take in a beautiful sunset and booked a two day mountain biking/ kayaking tour.  We finished off the day with 1 hour massages that cost less then 5.00.     

 

Our tour started Thursday morning at 8:30, it was just the 2 of us and a guide.  We were transported to the edge of the city where our tour company stored all its equipment.  I was a little concerned when we had to push our support vehicle out of the drive way so it could start rolling downhill but it was fine for the rest of our tour.  We choose bikes and started off right from town.  It was another hot and sunny day so we were glad that we had several stops along the way.  We stopped at a village that sells paper made from Mulberry, at our guide’s house (it was on the way) where we had cold water and met his mom and sister, at a fruit stand for a fresh snack, at a shelter on the side of the road for lunch, at the whiskey village where we had a few samples and finally at about 4pm we arrived at the village we were spending the night at.  We were the only tourists in this village so we were the tourist attraction.  It was quite strange to see people come out of their houses and just stare at us.  There was some confusion as to where we would spend the night but once it was sorted out we changed and went down to the river for a swim.  We hadn’t been in the water for very long when a group of local youngsters came over.  They were a little bit shy around us at first but they became comfortable in no time.  They took turns having us flip them in the water and taught us how to count to 3 in Laos.  They also showed us where the proper swimming area was.  The area we had been swimming in was quite muddy but they showed us where the nice sandy area was.  We probably played with them for over an hour before heading back the house we were staying at.  This play time was a definite highlight. It was amazing to hear them shriek when Patti chased them and hear them laugh when they got away.  The scenery was amazing and it felt great to cool off after a long day on the bike.  We had a great supper that was accompanied by some very tasty Beer Lao.  The owner of the house had come home and he was quite entertained by us.  I think he was trying to get me drunk as he taught me how to say “cheers” in Laos and then proceeded to cheers me all night.  It was a fun evening and a truly genuine local experience.

 

Our sleeping accommodations were little more then a mat on the floor and some mosquito netting so we didn’t get much sleep and we were up early.  We went for a walk around the village before having a great breakfast.  Our truck arrived at about 9:30am to deliver our kayaks and we started our paddle right from the village.  The scenery was breath taking as we paddled down stream.  There were huge tree covered, limestone cliffs towering over us and we saw many local villagers busy with their morning chores. Our first stop was at the Pak Ou caves.  The caves are at the bottom of a limestone cliff and are filled with Buddha images.  We had lunch here before continuing down the river.  We paddled until about 3pm with just one other stop at a local village. We got off the water just as a storm was blowing in.  There were black clouds, thunder and wind but no rain materialized.  We were picked up here by the support truck and given a ride back to the city.  We were tired but quite happy with how the tour went.  The scenery was spectacular, the food was great and the interaction with the local Laos people was fantastic.   

Comments

1

absolutely awesome pictures - especially #9 of Laos. It gave me shivers!! Playing with the local kids sounded like a most wonderful experience - I can just hear the screams of delight. They probably don't get the middle aged (you are ,iright?!) adults playing with them like the two you would! Stay safe (just a little while longer).
Love Dodi

  dodi May 30, 2008 10:52 AM

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