Templed-Out

Luang Prabang Travel Blog

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Uh-oh, the colour ran!

The journey to Luang Prabang seemed to drag on forever. Another case of relying on the breeze coming through the windows to stop you from passing out, the indulgence from Vang Vieng had started to take its toll. It wasn't helped by the fact I knew I was travelling on the notorious Route 13, known for attacks on passenger vehicles by armed Hmong troops, with a few people killed within the last few years. Fortunately, I added the road to tubing on the list of 'potential death situations' I have avoided.

My first day in Luang Prabang turned out to be a pretty busy one. Wanting to avoid the midday heat, I headed out to see some local wats.

Royal Palace Museum wat
I ended up seeing more than I would ever wish to in my life, let alone in a day. It's a World Heritage-listed city so it's not built up too much and seems to have kept most of its tradition. The French colonial-style buildings remind me a bit of Hoi An in Vietnam, whereas the markets, quantity of wats and tourist popularity reminded me a bit of Chang Mai in Thailand.

After seeing a few wats around Luang Prabang's peninsula, most notably the grand Xieng Thong, I found a guy with a boat who was willing to take me across the Mekong to some more wats on the other side. In the first one, I kind old monk opened up the main building for me. After walking up some steps I got collared by some young girls who spoke English and were obviously fishing around for a tip. I gave them some money for a gift that I was to give to a Buddha in the temple (surely recycled with every visitor).

"Buy my friendship!"
After the whole, "If you don't give us more money we can't go to school" line, I realised it was time for them to exit my life.

Returning to the other side, I had lunch by the Mekong. I visited the Royal Palace Museum, a converted palace with a few rooms left preserved as they would be while the king and queen are in residence. I realised quickly that I wasn't too bothered by this sort of thing; a selection of gifts from the Japanese government, for example, didn't exactly thrill me. Luckily, there was a good photography exhibition downstairs.

After seeing a few more wats (including one where I spotted some monks smoking?!), I started the ascent up Phu Si, where there were good views from the top, alongside That Chomsi, a gold stupa viewable from the city beneath. I waited there for a good hour, looking forward to a good sunset.

Suppose it's not that bad
It didn't materialise, and for the fifteen to twenty people who had massed (who all seemed to be French, actually), it meant a disappointed walk downhill, cursing the cloud that had plonked itself right in front of the sun's downward path. I had a bit of time to look through the night market, but by this time I was ready to get some food in me and stop looking at any more bloomin' temples.

I have warmed to the Lao people big time. It's refreshing to be able to walk down a street without getting pestered every few seconds, as was the case in Vietnam. However, what I thought was just friendliness when I kept getting sheepish smiles from locals might have been read wrong when someone pointed out to me that I had been saying, 'Kop Kai,' to thank someone, when it's actually said, 'Kwahp Jai.'

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Uh-oh, the colour ran!
Uh-oh, the colour ran!
Royal Palace Museum wat
Royal Palace Museum wat
Buy my friendship!
"Buy my friendship!"
Suppose its not that bad
Suppose it's not that bad
You cant even go to the toilet w…
"You can't even go to the toilet …
The mighty mighty Mekong
The mighty mighty Mekong
Heading across the Mekong
Heading across the Mekong
Bowls Prabang-style
Bowls Prabang-style
Grab your robes! Theres a scouser…
Grab your robes! There's a scouse…
It helps if you look at the page!
It helps if you look at the page!
Monk-eying Around
Monk-eying Around
Disappointing sunset
Disappointing sunset
Street from Phu Si hill
Street from Phu Si hill
Reclining Buddha at Phu Si
Reclining Buddha at Phu Si
I really cant remember
I really can't remember
Monk posse
Monk posse
Phu Si from Royal Palace Museum
Phu Si from Royal Palace Museum
Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong
Luang Prabang
photo by: oxangu2