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Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang, Loas
Saturday, April 20, 2013

Firstly our hearts go out to those affected by the recent earthquake in China. Only 7 weeks ago we were in Chengdu approximately 60 miles away from the epicentre. These disasters often seem so far away but this time it feels so close and watching the TV coverage of the rescue operation has shocked us both.

We eventually arrived in Luang Prabang after a long and sweaty journey and for once we were more than happy to see a group of tuk-tuk drivers eagerly waiting our custom. Having only eaten a few snacks on the journey and missing lunch we were both pretty hungry so after dumping our bags, we headed straight out to find some grub.

After our day we thought the simple task of finding some food would be easy... but boy were we wrong. We looked at a few places and finally settled on a small restaurant, we ordered our food and all was going well until we were approached by a member of staff who explained our chosen dishes were no longer available. Why it took them twenty minutes to tell us this will forever be a mystery but with nothing else on the menu we wanted we decided to leave.

Just as we did, the heavens opened and this was followed by a loud clap of thunder, we quickly scanned the street for somewhere else and found another restaurant just before the rain really started to pour. We ordered our food just in time because soon after this some people were turned away as the restaurant closed at 10pm.

We were relieved to be out of the rain with a drink in hand when Sonya noticed a cat playing under a table nearby, it wasn't until she took a closer look that she realised the cat was playing with a half dead mouse! A member of staff must have seen Sonya's appalled expression because soon afterwards it was quickly removed from the premises. Decisions, decisions with most restaurants closed and a massive thunder storm going on we either had to go hungry or pretend we didn't see the mouse and tell ourselves the kitchen was clean! We decided to keep our fingers crossed and stayed and (touch wood) we haven't suffered any ill effects. We have eaten at so many restaurants on the trip and we are sure if we could have seen some kitchens we probably wouldn't have eaten at many of them so we have adopted the motto 'what you don't know can't hurt you'

Day 1

Our first day in Luang Prabang was spent organising the hotels in the next few places, buying slow boat tickets to Pak Beng and Huay Xai on the Thai border and catching up on general banking etc. It's hard to believe how long this sort of planning can take to sort out especially with dodgy internet and we've found that having the odd day to do this is essential. Especially for Ross who is ultra-organised and freaks out if we haven't crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's, bless him! But to be honest it's a good job one of us is organised otherwise large parts of this trip wouldn't happen.

That evening before heading back to the hotel, we were walking through the night market when we bumped into two French men we had met on the broken down bus. It turns out that they were stuck on the hill for a further five hours after we left; the bus didn't leave until 9pm and didn't arrive in Luang Prabang until 2am! They then had the problem of finding a guesthouse that was still open, reminding us that we are doing the right thing by always booking (when possible) at least the first nights' accommodation in every place.

So far we've been on the rails and road for over three months and in that time we've seen some breath taking sights, experienced many different cultures and met some lovely people. We are both starting to feel like "real" travellers, so much so that we sometimes have to pinch ourselves to remind us how lucky we are to be here! Luang Prabang is no different and another beautiful town that is surrounded by karst mountains and is where the Nam Khann river meets the Mekong.

Day 2 - City Tour

Today we went on a walking tour of the city as it's a great way to take in all of the main sights. We started our day at the morning market after which we weaved our way through the streets to the bottom of Phu Si Hill, from here we climbed the many steps past the Buddhas to the best views over Luang Prabang and a great little Temple called That Chomsi.

We climbed down the otherside of the hill and walked across the street to the Royal Palace Museum where we saw some of the grounds and buildings before we were turned away as the Palace was closed due to New Year activities. After this we took a walk along the water front and made our way back to the other side of Phu Si Hill to climb yet more steps to see the 'Buddha foot print'. A slightly strange but impressive imprint in the rock. We have no idea if it is authentic but the shape of the imprint was strikingly like a foot print and you could quite clearly see the shape of the foot, heal and toes.

After this we made our way back to the hotel to escape the midday heat and get packed up for the slow trip to Thailand.

Hotel Review

We stayed at the Liberty Guesthouse in a double private. Luang Prebang is small place so again hotel location is not really an issue as everything is accessible by foot. The guesthouse was about a 10 minute walk into town but about 15 minutes from the main restaurant area. Compared to other accommodation in Laos the Liberty was on the expensive side at US$20 a night but it did show and was definitely a quality budget hotel and didn't have dodgy electrics! Staff where helpful but as we were one of the only people in the hotel we did get a personal service. A nice guesthouse that in our opinion was in an okay location but for some might be too far away from the action.


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