Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 89 of 117 › view all entries
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.
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).
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.
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.'