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Saaba Di - Luang Prabang - Laos

LAOS | Monday, 25 February 2008 | Views [1095]

Luang Prabang, Laos, to Bangkok, Thailand.

Luang Prabang is like a breath of fresh air. Just saying the name gives you a certain sense of pleasure. Say it with me… “Loh-ang proh-BAHNG.”

During our travels, when talking to fellow travellers about our next destination, we had heard really positive things. Many have said that a couple days is not enough, and that you could easily stay here for weeks. Now we know why! It’s not cause there is a ton to do in this little patchwork town of French Colonial meets Traditional Laos. It just has this very comforting feeling when you arrive here, like drinking a cup of hot tea on a cold winter day.  And those that know me… know I am all about comfort! I like to be “Shuu Fok.”

It’s such an enchanting little town, quaint ‘lil boutiques with Laos handicrafts and cafes with a really good cuppa joe. (I still think I prefer western style coffee to the local brew. I can’t get used to sieving the grounds through my teeth.) When you walk down the street, you see little french buildings with shuttered windows, and traditional wooden huts, just a mix mash of different cultures. The pace is slow and extremely relaxed. Anyone who wants a break from the craziness should come here and stay in one of the little guest houses that have all the comforts of home, and just enjoy watching the world turn.

I was finally able to unleash my shopping power, since it was the 2nd last stop before going back to HK, and I could finally afford the space in my trusty pack. And the night markets were definitely not a disappointment. Everyone was super friendly, even during the bartering process… and we all walked away happy from the transaction! (Which is certainly a change, because for most of my time in Vietnam, I knew I was being taken for a ride, but when you travel, those are the consequences you have to deal with.)

We visited the many Wats, and were not disappointed by the exquisiteness of the architecture. Detailed mosaics and murals of life of Buddha covered the outside of the temples in different shades of turquoises, aubergine, and chartreuse. I wish I could have imported that wall into my house. Gold plated roofs and monks hurrying to their next destination. I wondered where they were all hurrying to? It was not until later, that we found out that monks are just like normal people and go to school, to friends house, their homes, to the temples… monks ride motorcycles, monks use the Internet, monks have cell phones. It’s really kinda cool to see that!

We also took part in the alms giving at 6 am in the morning, where every morning, the monks venture out onto the streets to collect food donations for the day. There are lines of monks from oldest to youngest, and they have this bronze container that you give your offerings in. Most people give a dollop of sticky rice. There are these waves of different lines of monks from different Wat's, lining up on the side of the road to receive their offerings. Felix and I again, felt like asshole tourists because everyone was hording around to take photos of the monks. Its seems like such a sacred ritual. I also read somewhere that some of the locals have tried to profit from this ritual by selling tainted food to tourists for the offerings, and have in the process made the monks sick. Again… so very wrong, therefore we refrained from the actual food offering ritual.

We also visited  the infamous Buddha caves…. after an incredibly freezing 2 hour boat ride. The caves is filled with thousand of different shape and sized Buddhas. Apparently when a temple Buddha is too worn to be used, they move the statue to this cave. What you see is Buddha’s that range from a couple feet to a couple centimetres, all clustered on every flat surface.

I also tried the traditional Lao massage… which unfortunately was not relaxing. She contorted my body into really strange shapes, and at one point, she sat on my butt and just kneaded my back.. which was slightly weird. She also started picking at my motorcycle scab at one point, which made me a little uncomfortable. Afterwards… I found about 6 bites on my neck… I hate to think what was on that bed! Eek… but then again… what can you expect for $4USD. =)

Felix and I stayed in Luang Prabang for 5 days, and really enjoyed ourselves, despite the bitter cold. COLD?! Yep… it was flipping cold in the North of Lao… a big difference from the tank top and shorts weather we had experienced up until that point. =) I was bundled in fleece, scarves, and gortex! I know! I know! You guys have it a whole lot worse in Toronto, but who would have thought it would be so cold in Laos.

We then ended this 2 month leg, in Bangkok, Thailand. We made it back full circle. It was like we were thrown back into reality. Pollution, cars, trucks and buses everywhere, high rise buildings and lots and lots of people. It was hard to figure out how to cross the street again. Felix and I literally shopped until we dropped… and ate until we had Buddha bulges…. Ok.. fine! I ate until I had a spare tire… and you know Felix… he can eat whatever and still look like a stick of celery! I wish I had his genes… but hey… we’re in the food capital of the world. Siam Paragon was our home base for most of our meals! ;)

Next stop Taiwan….and then its back to reality. I feel like I am in a time warp now… and everything is going in fast fwd…. only 3 weeks left before we come home. How can it be?

We only just started………(Dave B ... you were so right!)

Tags: Adventures

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