The main street in Luang Prabang.
I know, heading south from Vang Vieng while Luang Prabang as our next stop was located north might sound totally crazy. But we had that flight booked from Vientiane and my Lao friend Mit was driving us anyway. If it wasn’t because of that crazy “bandito” the Lao police wasn’t able to catch in the jungles and because of our female co-traveller Christine who wasn’t in a mood to get into the risk to be rapped, we would have probably taken the direct bus to Luang Prabang. Vang Vieng was anyway about half way between it and Vientiane.
To make our trip back to Vientiane more exiting the destiny decided to bless us with a flat tyre.
Not the best news when you need to catch a plane, uuuff. Still, the destiny seemed to have some cheerful day ‘cause the sharp stone that made an ugly hole in the tyre of Mit’s car lyed just a couple of meters ahead of a little mechanics business. These guys were quick, within some 15 minutes the tyre was changed and everything fixed. I don’t want to accuse anybody, but the fact that we had this problem so close to their store made my mind being flooded with some ridiculous suspects.
The night market, loved it a lot.
The airport of Vientiane wasn’t big or modern, but it looked definitely better then I expected. No pigs or chicken were running around, the check-in was done through a computer…just kidding. We said goodbye to Mit, we would see him in a couple of days again, and went full of good hope to our gate. The plane we got in was one with a propeller, not the first time for me.
The flight itself was pretty short, just about an hour. Still a torture for Christine who always has problems with motion sickness while she’s travelling. Me, I used the chance to make some pictures from the beautiful landscape below us. At that time I didn’t know that Sergej would delete by mistake all this photos from my camera the same evening while trying to download and burn them on a CD. Seeeeerrrgeeeej, aaaarrrrrgggghhhh.
Temple inside of the royal palace area.
After the landing and after Christine recovered a bit from her motion sickness (didn't throw up after all, but was preatty pale for a couple of minutes) we took a tuktuk to the center of Luang Prabang. Usually we negotiated the price with the driver, but here at the airport things worked a bit different. There was a desk where you got a ticket for 5 USD and with that one you went to a tuktuk driver.
No matter how far you needed to go, the price was always the same.
Risking my head.
It took us a little while to find a cheaper accommodation, but suddenly we managed to do so in hotel number 8 or 9. The problem is if you get used to low prices all the time, you’re not ready to pay 30 USD and up anymore. As I heard the hostels in the center of Luang Prabang got relatively expensive the last few years due to the big number of tourists coming here.
Usually I’m really not a big fan of touristic places, but Luang Prabang was different. The climate of this city by the Mekong river was not so hot and humid first of all. And the city offers a lot of places for sightseeing, there are also plenty of possibilities for some outdoor activities.
But what I really loved was the so called “Night Market” where local people from nearby villages were offering their merchandises. Of course most of this stuff was produced just for tourists, but they had some nice articles as well there and we used the opportunity to buy some presents for our beloved at home. I noticed that most of the vendors after selling some item took the money they just received and touched with it the other merchandises as well. I just couldn’t resist and ask one young Lao vendor about the meaning. “Lucky, lucky” was his answer. This way they seemed to hope to have luck and attract soon the next deal.
Inside of the royal palace.
As a traveller I never miss to visit the main attractions of a place. Luang Prabang used to be a royal city, no wonder that there’s enough to see. One of the main places is the Royal Palace No Kham which is now a national museum.
Inside of the area is a beautiful temple guarding the Pha Bank Buddha statue. The city is located in an area full of hills and forests, the best way to have an overview about this place is to climb the 328 steps (come on, it’s worth it) of the mountain Phousi which rests like a giant right in the middle of the 2nd largest Laotian city. The view from here is just amazing.
View above Luang Prabang.
Christine wanted to do some kayaking her last day in Laos (she was supposed to fly back to Bangkok and then home the next day), but we wanted to make a boat tour on the Mekong. Well, at least she had a little break from us guys. While we’ve been for a walk by the river the day before, every couple of meters we were offered a tour by boat.
We refused but checked the prices at least. One of the guys, a friendly looking older Lao, was ready to take us for 5 USD each if we find at least 2 more passengers. Well, motivated enough by this offer we found quickly a Canadian guy and a Swiss girl who were ready to join us. The trip was really nice, the boat really narrow but stable enough… swimming in the water of the river Mekong might be an unforgoattable experience but at that point we wouldn't mind at all to miss it. The boat “captain” was the son of the older guy and he brought his little family as well. Soon we understood why….to keep the equilibrium of the boat, hahahaha. No kidding, when the boat started leaning too much on one side, the “captain” told his little son to move to the other side. If that wasn’t enough the wife had to move as well. Simple physics, hahaha.
Me trying the stability of a bridge.
We made a stop in a typical Lao village which had some pretty “untypical” little stores selling stuff to tourists.
I guess every day a couple of boats stopped here, the vendors sold some souvenirs and the boat captains got a little provision. And evrybody was happy. No wonder the Lao people smile so much, hehe.
Me with local monks and kids.
After a nice lunch we made a stop in a cave full of bigger or smaller Buddha statues which were hidden by the local people during the several wars in this region. It’s quite impressive as there might be around 1000 of these statues.
Honestly, we felt soooo comfortable in Luang Prabang, we could have stayed there for months, years without noticing the time passing by. And the lazyness was overcoming our bodies more and more often, gosh, we needed to move.
Christine was gone already, I went with her to the airport in the morning of the 3rd day here and used the chance to make at least some pictures from the plane as I’ve lost the previous ones thanks to Sergej. Thanks once more my friend. One more lazy day on our own and then it was time to leave this beautiful place. We met some tourists who got here by bus and they told us that there was always an employee with a shotgun as protection and that nothing has happened lately. Hmmm, sounded a bit weird, but whatever. We decided to take the risk, we wanted to see the beautiful landscape from the ground this time. Bye bye Luang Prabang.
Sergej and me getting some food.