Despite being a UNESCO site, the town must have had a bad reputation in the past to have needed to put up the following hotel restrictions (check out number 6 on the photo below) but then again it doesn't help itself by being called Luang PraBANG and having a hill in the middle called Mt Phousi (the H is silent).
ສະບາຍດີ - sabaai di
Very chilled out, but hardworking
State of WCs:
4/10 Bad but not the worst!
Some mornings were so cold 8*c - 31*c
Eggs, eggs, eggs and fish
No. Of bites:
Maryam 0 v 0 Andy Woohoo!
Coconut cake balls, french baguettes and tasty crepes and pastries
In Luang Prabang one can give alms to monks on the main high street between 6 - 7am
Moon bears, goats, cows, fish, cooked rat
Can buy street food for £3 - 4, restuarant food £5 - 7, oreo milkshake £1.50
Lao lao (for all things alcoholic), monks, hiking for Phousi
7 hours ahead of GMT
Every morning between 6:00 and 6:30, monks undertake what is known as the giving of Alms where they walk the streets and receive food from the locals which they will then eat for breakfast and lunch (they don't eat dinner). The ceremony is very big in Luang Prabang but has become a bit of an attraction around the main temple with tourists taking part in the proceedings and donating so much food that the monks give most of it away. Ignoring this though, to see the villagers off the beaten track awaiting the monks from their local temple was a really special act to have witnessed and showed a much more symbiotic relationship between the two. The extra food that the monks receive is passed onto the poor, that way everyone gets fed.
We are now fully trained in all things Laos cuisine after our one day cooking class! We expertly made five dishes in an afternoon full of food which included the traditional Larp salad amongst others. It was really interesting to see how they cook their food - full heat and very quickly! We burnt the onions a good few times.
Whilst in this pretty town we attended ‘chats’ by the organisation called Big Brother Mouse. They encourage children and young adults to learn English through reading and speaking to tourists in the city. During these sessions we spoke to some amazing young people from the North of Loas living in Luang Probang away from their village and family to gain a better life. One was a novice monk, and Maryam tried to shake hands with him when introducing herself. Tut tut, there are rules! 1. No touching the monks if you’re a woman, 2. Don't point your feet towards the monk (how does that even work?), 3. Not all monks will communicate with women (well thats just not fair), 4. No playing games with the monk! (its tough being a monk)
A tiny little town with a wild history. Only a few years ago this town was filled with drunk tourists downing kegs of beer and all sorts whilst on a tube floating down the Mekong river. As you can imagine this only resulted in some serious issues of people going missing and even death. So they closed the party down and revamped the little town into a trendy activity getaway along the Mekong.
Move along, move along, nothing to see here! We were told not to spend much time in Vientiane which I think was the same for everyone else there. It felt a bit like a interchange with most people awaiting buses to Luang Prabang or across to Vietnam. That said, we did entertain ourselves for a day and a half with a massage and a trip to a nearby Buddha park.
The Buddha park was a cool collection of random statues related to Buddhism which were all made out of stone. Some of the highlights were a huge reclining Buddha (seriously, what is the deal with the chilling Buddhas!?), a 3-headed elephant and a huge spherical like building which was filled with hundreds of smaller statues and gave great views over the park.
A warm Sabaai-di from the sleepy country of Laos where salad (yes SALAD) is the dish of the day and carp is the catch of the day!!
They also eat the likes of frogs, rats and snails but we steared clear of those treats.
Apologies to anyone who has been on a sleeper bus in South East Asia but this was a pretty big deal to us - we had proper bunk beds on our overnight bus between Luang Prabang and Vientiane! We say proper but, they were tiny (Andy couldn't fit in) and probably just wider than a single bed but that wasn't a massive issue since we were sharing with each other, unlike some people who had to share with a COMPLETE stranger! I suppose it's no different to a normal Saturday night for most people except without the fornication...
In other news...
After nearly 4 months we have finally received payment from the insurers for our stolen bags! Woo!
Next stop Vietnam following our 21st flight of the trip.
It has been great to meet so many amazing people on this trip so far and Luang Prabang was no exception. After sharing the experience of the night bus with Jens, who then met up with his friend Kim, who then befriended Frank and Olga on the top of Mt Phoussi, we very quickly had formed a gang! The six of us hired a boat for the afternoon and went along the Mekong river to the Pak Ou Caves as well as the Kuang Si waterfall the following day. The colour of the water at the waterfall was a beautiful shade of blue as a result of the limestone minerals within the river bed. It is also the colour of freezing cold water… so naturally we all dove in!
Check out the jazzy sheet covers on the sleeper bus!
We ventured up Mt Phousi to watch the sunset and were greeted by swarms of people, the busiest place we have been yet for a sunset! However, this was as much to do with the size of the viewing area as it was people. No fret though, as Maryam rightly predicted, as soon as the sun dropped a millimetre below the horizon the masses departed leaving us and a handful of others to watch as the sky turned into beautiful colours. #standard
Grubs up fresh from the Mekong river...