Luang Prabang

Argh! I hate it when PCs decide to shut down for no apparent reason.

Anyways, well I was saying something along the lines of [until never be quite as good as the original]…

This will be my last significant post of the journey as from now on its the homeward bound.

The journey from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was pretty miserable, our bums had to endure another 8 hours of pressure – something they’re not comfortable with after 5 weeks of traveling. It is however, slightly cooler in Luang Prabang as we’re up in the mountains and the elevation tends to take the edge off of the temperature. Having said that, its still pretty hot!

We’re staying in a nice hostel which we came to by rather sensible yet odd circumstances. It was recommended to us by an Irish couple that we met on the pick up to the bus station in Vang Vieng. They were going North to South and they said that they’d stayed one night there and one night elsewhere and that Kinally Guesthouse was by far the better. Fine you may think, but whats quite odd is the adamant attitude you take once you’ve been recommended something. We treated all the guest house touts with a skeptical caution as we got off of our tuk tuk from the bus station, but the guest house recommended to us by a couple of people we’d barely known 5 minutes? We greeted that with open arms. Either way, its a smart venue and things have been ok so far.

Actually, I take that back. When we were originally looking for a place to stay many of the guest houses said that where they were was a very quite location. I found this to be quite off since LP isn’t the Bangkok of Laos and I think it’d struggle to be loud anywhere. And thats where I eat my words. Our first night started off ok but then at 4am on the dot I woke up to what I thought were drums. Lying there in the dark I considered that it could be a heavy lorry passing through, or perhaps even thunder – a favourite considering the thunder fun we’d had in Vang Vieng. But no they were quite definitely drums… with cymbals. Who the hell would be playing drums at 4 am in the morning? Well the next day I found out. But only after the drums finished and an hour later the cockerels started to pipe up. Great stuff, so this is why some guest houses advertise ‘quiet’.

So our first proper day in LP and we had a leisurely breakfast down at the Scandinavian Bakery [of all places] where I tried to look sophisticated and worldly by thumbing through the international herald tribune whilst slurping on my refillable coffee [back of the net]. A couple of tasty chocolate croissants later and we were off to enjoy the sites of Luang Prabang. To cut a long story short we went up a BIG hill where we could see REALLY FAR [That Phu Si] which provided Tim with an excuse for a spasmatic burst of photos. so far, according to his camera, I’ve been to Angkor Wat, Halong Bay and now Luang Prabang.

We descended down in the midday heat and went for a drink. I had a lemon slushi type thing which reminded me of the time when I used to get a calypo and then save the bit at the end and mash it up in its packaging and then drink it. To be fair, that happens whenever I kind find an excuse to have a calypo. After lunch we had a look at the National Museum, which like the presidential palace in Saigon has been preserved since the fall of the monarchy as it was once the home of the King and his mrs. To be honest it wasn’t ‘all that’ and as Tim quite acutely noted after seeing the Kings bedroom, he’d probably pay around $7 a night for it in Vietnam.

It was on our excursion to Wat Xieng Thong that we discovered the source of the drums. Its those darn pesky monks hitting them at all times of the day. The thing is there’s loads of Wats all over Luang Prbang and all of them [i assume] bang a gong [T-Rex] at some time of the day or other. We later found out that our guest house is right next to a Wat and the give a rendition at 4am and 4pm every day. No wonder I’ve been looking rough lately.

After dinner that day we went to the night market to have a little window shop. However in this part of the world window shopping doesn’t really work. For a start they’re all stalls with no windows but secondly as soon as you pause of even glance at a sarong, t-shirt, or lamp shade for that little moment longer than your average disinterested punter, you are forced head first into a conversation of

“one for one dollar”
“no, i’m okay thanks”
“okay me make for you discount, 2 for one dollar”
“no, really I was just looking, i don’t want one thanks”
“ok sir, what price you want? i make for you good price”

At which point you run. I however didn’t. I was feeling quite chuffed with myself after haggling over some bulk discount beer Laos t-shirts and getting a good price when I cam across some nice bed clothes. I paused and thought “hmmm, they’re nice”. BIG mistake. Before I knew it the woman was open out the duvet cover, and her small daughter was giving her a hand and they were quoting prices at me. I asked how much for the cover and some pillow cases, they gave me a price – i gave them the old ‘I’m not going to say anything and see what happens approach’ by the end of which they’d packed the cover and cases into a bag and were handing it to me. I panicked, asked for some more pillow cases to be thrown into the deal [some square ones with an inverse of the design, very nice] and handed over my cash. I then walked off wondering what the hell had just happened. Next time I’m taking blinkers.

Yesterday we went to see the waterfall and had another adventure. By adventure i mean I do something, Tim follows and then we end up in the sticks. This time it was getting to the upper level of the water fall by a route which tim insisted was far from legitimate but I thought was fine, and accused Tim of having no sense of adventure [in my head, it’d be rude to say it out loud]. However once we got to the top and realised there was no way across I felt rather silly. What was interesting was that I had to climb sheer rock faces, wade through streams and get mud all over me before I realised that there was ‘no way across’.

Ah well there was just enough time to struggle back down, run up the legit way and then have a dip in the lower pools.

Tonight is our last night in LP. Tomorrow we travel at 6:30 on our 10 hour trip back down to Vientiane where we’ll spend a couple more nights and then from there cross the border and catch an overnight train to Bangkok. Before you know it I’ll be home and you’ll be asking me how my trip was and then I’ll accuse you of not reading the blog and disown you for the rest of my days.

ta ra

Andy

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