Lovely Luang Prabang - it's Laos lite
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 15 of 20 › view all entries
North from Vang Vieng to the old royal capital, Luang Prabang. The VIP (!!) bus took us for 7 hours along 250km of winding mountain road, initially past fields of cabbages, then through poor villages hugging the hillsides - you just wondered how the people made any sort of living.
Luang Prabang is very attractive. It's a "World Heritage" city and has been well restored in recent yeras. There are several lovely Wats, finely decorated and lots of young monks in saffron robes wander around. Hilary helped a small group with their English homework. At dawn each day, hundreds of monks walk silently in single file along the main street to receive alms - sticky rice and veg, that they put into their begging bowls. Locals, mainly women, kneel to present the alms, for better karma for them and their family. Some tourists, mostly looking ill at ease, do likewise. It's quite a sight.
The Royal Palace - now the National Museum - gave some indication of the life of the royal family, overthrown after around 650 years of rule in Laos, as the communists assumed power in 1975. Apparently the new regime sent the king, queen and crown prince to work in the countryside where they died in still unexplained circumstances.
As a heritage tourist town, Luang Prabang is very different from Vang Vieng. Traffic is restricted in the old town. There are upmarket art and textile shops, and a huge evening handicraft market. There are pleasant cafes and open air restaurants overlooking the Meking and Nam Khon rivers. It's all very appealing to middle aged westerners, and is, you might say, Laos lite.
But on the narrow street outside our guesthouse, the morning produce market traders gather at dawn and pack up at about 9.30am. There's all the usual stuff - fresh veg and fruit, herbs, fly-blown meat and fish, but lots of unusual (at least to us) stuff too. Types of bark, funny green shoots, banana flowers, grubs, frogs, insects, squirrels, snakes and live hens. The produce is laid out on the street and sold by women squatting behind. Locals pick and poke and test and bargain before buying. The market oficer walks down the street collecting the market fees. So maybe, a touch of the real Laos here too.
Next stage - Lao Airlines back to Vientiane to avoid a 10 hour bus journey; then Air Asia on to Kuala Lumpur, presumably to a real culture change.
PS. In our Luang Prabang guesthouse was a copy of the Police Department Rules for local accommodation. Three rules read (sic)
Rule 5: Do not any drugs, crambling, or bring both women and men which is not your own husband or wife into the room for making love.
Rule 6: Do not allow domestic and international tourists bring prostate and others into your accommodation to make sex movies in our room. It is restriction.
Rule 11: If you do not follow this accomodation regulations you will be fight based on Lao PDR law.