Monday, April 04, 2011

Lazy Little Luang Prabang

Time goes by... apparently. Where it went, I'm not sure. But here I am in a new country - Laos. Whereas Vietnam is teeming with people - around 85 million, Laos sits next door, a little smaller, with a mere 6 million. Yes, this means it is quieter! And in my old age I am appreciating the quieter moments in life these days.
I hobbled into town flying Lao Airlines - formerly Lao Aviation with a pretty, ummm, poor safety reputation. But the little AT7 touched down in a cute little airport not far from Luang Prabang where visas are issued and paid for, passports are stamped and that's, well, about all.

The town itself is sleepy and possibly has more (white) tourists than locals. Things tend to close rather early - banks at three, museum at 4pm (although wouldn't let me in at 3.45pm). The temples here, as seen in one of the photos, are known as Wats. I have visited a few, including one atop a hill that overlooks Luang Prabang and I nearly died climbing. It's 100 metres high you know! The weather here has been 35 in the day and humid, which has been knocking me about and the exact opposite of my last week or so in Vietnam.

The Mekong river (see first and last photos) flows through Luang Prabang, joining with the Nam Khan river here in town. The town is sleepy day and even night, although there is a bit of a party section where you can have a few beers and be offered opium and any other drug you'd like to name. Good luck to you if you do and it turns out they are bad. I sometimes think I am getting old. So many young partiers out on the backpacking 'circuit' now. On my last night in Hanoi I discovered 'Hanoi Backpackers' with mostly Backpacking staff, lots of beers, people a lot younger than I and the game 'Beer Pong'. You have to throw a ping pong ball into cups of beer. It's apparently harder than it sounds, I didn't see one ball land in the beer. If it does land in the beer, I suppose you drink. Or the opposition does. Can't say I cared.

The above photo is inside the Pak Ou caves. I took a trip along the Mekong today in a boat - not the one pictured below. We passed that. More stair climbing was in order, and as you can see the caves are and have been used for worship since the 19th century I think it said. They don't hold your hand here like in Vietnam - off the boat, go see it, get back in 30 minutes. In case ye reader is interested, one of the bars had an 'Ethnik Fashion' Show on two nights back where clothes from different Lao tribes were shown to the audience. It was pretty interesting all said.

So tomorrow I aim to beat the heat and head out to a waterfall where much swimming can be had! Now, I think adopting the siesta approach to life makes a lot of sense...

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