Down the Mekong to Laos
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 3 of 13 › view all entries
Spent the last night in Thailand at Chiang Kong, a small town near the border. Nothing eventful here, just a stop-off point. Next day headed across the border into Laos. Immigration is a joke.. would be very easy to jump the border control (a man under an umbrella shade) The currency is also interesting. Changed 200 US Dollars and got 1.7 million kip entirely in 20,000 notes. My wallet has never felt so full.. I'm a millionaire!!!
One spot that I do recommend is to visit a place called Wat Rong Khun just outside Chiang Rai. It's a beautiful temple that looks like something out of Narnia - an Ice Palace sort of look. Very different and amazed this hasn't yet appeared in a film.
Next up we're on our boat for the next 2 days going down the Mekong. Boat is really nice with a sun-deck and good supply of Beer Lao - I get why they call this the best beer in the world!! Scenery is stunning and I don't think we've ever been so relaxed.
After a 6 hour cruise we stop for the night at Pak Beng. This is suprisingly nice - basically only one guest-house and restaurant, but the views over the Mekong are stunning.
Next day we're back on the boat. Make stops at local villages where they eat dogs, which I'm not happy about. Sample the rice wines and whisky and generally kick back and take it easy. Last stop is at Pak Ou Caves. This is a strange place where locals leave thousands of Buddha carvings and where monks used to hang out. There's also lots of kids trying to sell you caged birds so they can be let free. I can't help thinking they were free before the kids caged them!! Pretty sad this is the only way they can make money..
So this brings me to Luang Prabang where I am writing this.
Off to watch the monks at crack of dawn tomorrow, so now off to bed.. Will try to update some photos in the next few days
Right I'm now nearing the end of my few days in Luang Prabang and I have to say this place is quality. My favourite travel magazine's(Wanderlust - shameless plug) readers have voted Luang Prabang best city in the world for 2 straight years, so it had a lot to live up to. The hardest part is explaining what makes this place so special. There's not a ton of stuff to do, quite quiet but somehow you just fall in love with the place (maybe it's the Beer Lao again!!)
So - back to the monks, got up at 5.15 courtesy of an annoying rooster that sits outside my window.
Royal Museum is ok, and well worth going up Mount Phou Si for sunset - beautiful views and really peaceful setting. The night market is also pretty amazing. Loads of goods for dirt cheap prices - my only issue is where to pack it all.
We also went Elephant trekking - really nice - about 1 hr 20 mins through beautiful jungle and lakes.
2 last bits of advice about Luang Prabang. First go to Wat Phra That Chedi - a stunning temple on the outskirts & eat at the Blue Lagoon Cafe - possibly the best restaurant I've been to - and very cheap to boot.
I'm all "Wat'd" out now, so tonight I'm just going to people watch for the last night.. Before I finish this update, a bit about the Laos culture. Basically the believe in the importance of a good karma and view stress as an un-necessary evil which prevents achieving this state. Maybe this explains why I love the country so much!!
Till next time