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Luang Prabang, Northern Laos
Sunday, 30 May 2010 11:14

Luang Prabang 27.02. – 12.03. and 22.03. – 28.03. (after Vietnam)

“Believe and receive, doubt and go without”

The journey from Luang Nam Tha to Luang Prabang was on a long and windy road with another mad driver. Due to low water on the Mekong (caused by the Chinese not opening the dams) we could not take a slow boat from anywhere as we would have liked. The roads were terrible and very bumpy for most of the way and at one point, as I looked out of the window to admire the scenery, I found myself staring at my backpack which had slid off the roof and was dangling in front of my face! A Lao lady near us shouted for the driver to stop before my backpack disappeared down a rice paddy. Perish the thought of losing everything again.

We had heard so much about how nice Luang Prabang was and we were not to be disappointed. After getting a hotel we went to find something to eat and were overjoyed to see “nice” restaurants and “nice” shops and “nice” hotels. The waiter (a proper one wearing shirt and trousers instead of an anorak and a vacant look) looked somewhat surprised when I asked if the wine was chilled. Apparently those kind of details were standard here – good food, chilled white wine, cool bars and a lot of French influence.
The next day we saw the town by daylight and were even more enchanted. Old colonial style houses with shutters, temples, magnolia trees in bloom, monks on every street corner and lots of restaurants selling French and Mediterranean style food. I didn’t realise how much I had missed salad dressing, aubergine, pastry and baguette until we got here. After recovering from my stomach upset in Luang Nam Tha I was ready to ignore rice for as long as possible and delve into the delicious menus on offer here. Cafe Ban Vat Sene became our favourite place to eat and we enjoyed many a salad, ham baguette and lemon tart there. Writing this now makes my mouth water!

Now if you ask people what is so special about Luang Prabang you will probably not get a specific answer on the sights or the landscape as there is not that much to do. There is just something about the place which makes you relax and want to do nothing but eat nice food and do a bit of shopping. We did one day trip to the Pak Ou caves combined with an afternoon at the Kuang Si Waterfalls which we visited again with Tami and Matthias later. One evening we also watched an ethnic fashion show at The Hive Bar. I have included a few pictures which I hope capture the mood of the town.


Chilled wine for a chilled lady

Above: Rice crackers for almsgiving drying in the street

Left: Our 2nd hotel, a 100 year Lao wooden house.











Bottom left: View of the Mekong with little water

Below right: The dogs at our guest house got a wash and

blowdry once a week. Made them aggressive.

These pictures were taken at a fashion show at The Hive Bar which showed traditional outfits of around 15 Lao tribes.

In the Pak Ou caves pilgrims have been leaving Buddha
statues for centuries.

I came across a travel agent who offered photography courses and decided to book us in as a surprise in order to make up for Heiko’s  40th birthday  present which he never got before we set off on our trip. We will create an extra report for this as there are quite a few pictures we want to include.
After several days in Luang Prabang we got so hooked on the place that we decided to stay there for quite a while before going to Vietnam for a week and then coming back to Luang Prabang to meet Tami and Matthias. At some point we would have to head south if we wanted to see anything else of Laos but in the meantime we were happy where we were. We did move hotels a couple of times however, first into the Villa Savanh, an historical Lao house which was over 100 years old and then into the Khoum Xieng Thong guest house which was our home for around 2 weeks in total. Noy the owner took good care of us and we had fun playing with his dogs which constantly chased each other round the garden. Here we also met Vanessa, a lovely Australian girl with whom I had a great night out at Utopia and lots of very long chats about men! Not mine, hers....

After returning from Vietnam we arranged to meet Tami and Matthias the same evening as they were coming from Vang Vieng.  The first words that Tami said were “God, I never thought we’d make it one piece!” – they had had 2 bus accidents on the way there, once scraping a tractor coming the other way and then landing in a ditch at the side of the road when the driver took the corner too sharply. Luckily no one was hurt but this is what we are constantly worrying about every time we get on a bus or in a car as these are everyday occurrences!
Anyway, it was lovely to see them again after Caye Caulker and catch up on our travel stories. We spent the next few days together visiting the waterfalls, getting massages, drinking cocktails and then going to the Elephant Village nearby. This was my surprise Easter present from Heiko and I hoped to get on the elephant with a bit more grace this time. Turned out to be wishful thinking.

Right: THE fashion accessory this season- bikini with matching butterfly. 

The elephants love water and especially dunking tourists in the river. On the first ride (above) Tami's elephant turned out to be blind in one eye. This didn't stop the mahout having a nap while we rode around the village.






Below: we were supposed to spend the afternoon at the waterfalls near the elephant village but surprise, surprise it was dry as it was dry season. So we went zipling instead. Bit like the
Gibbon Experience but not has high or as long.
 Below left: Tami auditions for the role of



We finally booked a ticket to Vientiane which would take us south towards the 4000 Islands whilst stopping off at Kong Lor cave first. I had tears in my eyes as we drove to the bus station, sniff. Ahead of us lay a veeery long journey to be reported on after the photography course and Vietnam. Stay tuned!


Last Updated on Thursday, 02 November 2017 23:05