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On Lao Time

LAOS | Saturday, 6 April 2013 | Views [503]

We have only been in Laos for a little over a week, but we are already feeling our pace slowing. The Lao are famous for their chill attitude towards timetables, work, and life in general, and after busy and demanding Vietnam its a nice change of pace.

We are spending most of our time this month in Luang Prabang, which is a tiny city and the main tourist destination in the country. It does feel like a tourist spot, but it also hasn't lost its character as a living city. The contrast to Hoi An in Vietnam, which is another UNESCO heritage site for its French colonial architecture, but seemed rather soulless, is stark.

As far as we can judge, the best thing to do in Luang Prabang is to stroll through the streets of the old town between the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers and gaze at the sites. Maybe you come across an unexpected cafe with amazing croissants. Perhaps you decide to stop for a cold fruit shake and a BeerLao (the delicious local brew) at a riverside restaurant to watch the sun set over the Mekong. Occasionally you will decide to leave town for a day trip with some new friends to the local waterfall/swimming hole. I think you get the idea. It's a chill place. 

Luang Prabang is also the center of Buddism in Laos, with a new Wat on every corner and saffron-cloaked monks all around. We have done our fair share of Wat siteseeing... but as with churches in Europe they all seem to blend together after a while. Its traditional for teenage boys in Laos to spend a year (or more) in service to a Wat, which means that the monks here are an interesting mix of the pious and the mischevious.

Right now we are in the small town of Nong Kiaw, a few hours NE of Luang Prabang on the Nam Ou river. I am writing this entry from the hammock of our bungalo overlooking the river and the town. Once again the backpackers life in SE Asia has turned out to be less of an adventure and more of a vacation... but I'm not complaining!

-Gillian

Tags: chill, hammock, laos, luang prabang, mekong, sightseeing

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