Once Around The Sun

25950 km


LUANG PRABANG

Crossing the Vietnam-Laos border at Tan Can is really no hassle. In fact, I don't think anyone would notice if I just walked past. It may be because we have arrived at lunch time that the border police told us to hang about for an hour or so, but even after that they've looked pretty chillaxed. It cost us $31 per head to get our Visa on arrival and didn't take longer than 10 minutes. Good few hours later, 1am next morning, our bus stopped and the driver informed us that we are in Luang Prabang. The station is quite far out the central area, luckily there is a tuk-tuk there at any given time. 15 minutes and 40000 Kips later we were on the front of our guest house...

There is a lot to see in Prabang and even more in its surroundings. Me and my better half (I didn't call her that for a while, right?!) have walked up Phousi Mountain (I couldn't pronounce this without sounding dirty) the first day, then walked the city for 2 days, later rented a motorbike for 2 days, trekked a 3 day remote village tour and returned to Luang Prabang for one more day. Here's a good starting list of "Dos and don'ts", I've stumbled upon in the old town:

  • Do check your money at exchanges

  • Do visit Utopia, go for a drink and relax all day (we didn't; too busy, noisy... are we getting old?)

  • Do exercise caution and wear helmets when riding bikes.

  • Do climb Phousi at sunrise from the back (you hear it too, right?!)

  • Do observe a colourful monk procession

  • Do brave the heights of the communist era bridge

  • Do cross the Mekong and visit an abandoned temple

  • Do drink and dance at a Lao disco

  • Don't walk the streets alone late at night

  • Do eat at Lao sindad

  • Do visit 2 of the 3 waterfalls

  • Don't engage in undesirable behaviour with local females

  • Do swim with the children under the old bridge

  • Do listen to the 4pm rhythmic beat if Wat Sene drums

  • Do leave your comfort zone and visit a Lao hospital

  • Do spend a unique overnight in a Hmong hill tribe homestay

  • Do kayak on one of the four tributaries of the Mekong

  • Do mountain bike to a Lao village and visit Tadse Waterfall

  • Don't stay less than 3 nights in Luang Prabang

  • Do combine multi days of mountain biking, trekking and kayaking

  • Do meditate or do yoga in the aesthetic gardens of Utopia

  • Do respect Lao culture, tradition and customs by... wearing more and thinking more

I could go on and on about the numerous temples and monasteries, the night market, countless children and their welcoming parents, the ever smiling villagers, the elephant villages, the Laolao or Beerlao, the caves, the waterfalls, the boat trips on Mekong river, the springs, the alms giving ceremony, the delicious food or the fruit shakes, the landscape... I will not go on about the difficult lives of children and how badly they need good education, or the ever present danger of the unexploded remnants of the secret war, the poverty these beautiful people have to face, the lack of schools, hospitals on any basic services for that matter... Instead I will let you go through the photos and see the kind hearted smiles of beautiful people in and near Luang Prabang. I think I fell in love with this city...