Say Wat?

Luang Prabang Travel Blog

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Laos is a much more obviously Buddhist country than Vietnam or Cambodia. This is shown by the number of wats, and consequently monks, in Luang Prabang. Every neighbourhood in the town has it's own wat, and apparently the locals associate more with their own patch, than the town itself. So, after breakfast on the Mekong, we decided to check a few of these wats out. Not before getting lost (somehow!) whilst trying to find Ta Lam market, though. After deciding that a row of 5 stalls was the market, we go to Wat Wisunarat first, which is very old, and has a stupa named the watermelon, due to it's bulbous shape. The next one to visit was Wat Aham, which is adjacent to Wisunarat, before taking on the highest wat in Luang Prabang, Wat Thammotayian (sp?).

There are about 400 stairs to climb right to the top, passing Buddha images, and shrines along the way. It's worth the long, sweaty climb though, as the views from the top of Luang Prabang, and the Mekong river are stunning. On such a clear day (there have been no cloudy days in Laos, so far!) you can see for miles, literally. On the way down we stop at Wat Pha Houk, which has some intricate murals within dating from 1860. After a well-earned drink at Luang Prabang Bakery, the next stop is the Wat Chieng Xuong, the biggest in Luang Prabang, which houses a huge collection of Buddha statues, and a number of chedi and stupa.

Lunch consists of buffalo noodles, but without the noodles, which is an interesting take on the dish. Along Sisavongvang Road, we book a tour to the Kuangsi Waterfall for tomorrow, which costs 30,000 kip, and is going to  be by jumbo tuk-tuk, which should be a bone-crunching 30km each way! The afternoon is spent at the Royal Palace Museum, which has been open since 1976, and houses the Prabang (from which Luang Prabang takes it's name), a Buddha statue given as a gift from the Khmer in the 1300's, which, legend says, is made in 1AD in Sri Lanka! There are various artefacts from royal visitors in the palace, and a large statue of King Sisavangvong outside the museum.

After having yellow curry and pad thai for dinner at the coconut restaurant, which is really good, the night is spent at the handicraft market, which is just past the royal palace museum, and takes up a large area, with people selling everything from textiles, coffee, jewellery to snakes in jars. It's a scaled down version of Chatuchak, and happens every night. After a few drinks nearby, and the curfew of midnight looming, the choice is obvious when we realise we can get a bottle of Tiger Whisky (70cl) for $2. It's drinks at home, and some shithead.
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Luang Prabang
photo by: oxangu2