I had three days free so I decided to take a quick hop up to Luang Prabang, Laos.
It is a very cute riverfront town located where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers join together. Apparently tourist season started on October 1st which is of course right when I arrived. The town is probably the most walkable town I have ever been to in my travels and because of the two rivers you are basically guaranteed a water front view.
My first evening I followed the road around the town, taking in the double water front view before hiking up to Phousi, a temple that overlooks the town and provides a beautiful view of the sunset and the surrounding area. As I walked up the 328 steps to the top, I was reminded that the only exercise I have done in the past 5 months has been limited to runs down my short soi (alley), workout videos and water weights in my room, and shooting hoops on the crooked hoop in the school yard with my students.
On the way down the 328 steps, the red and blue tents of the market could be seen. They were all setup and ready for the evening market. This experience is unfortunately not for tall people as tents line the entire walkway at a height of about 6 feet.
The next morning I went on a boat ride to the Pak Ou caves. It was a rather primitive boat and the driver had to try multiple times to start the engine but it was all part of the experiences of course. My favorite part about the journey was simply being in the boat and seeing the wonderful Laotian landscape. In the morning there was still fog hanging over the green hills as we made the two hour journey up river. The caves consisted of an upper and lower cave. There were a lot of buddha images to see. I wouldn’t necessarily add it to a must do when visiting Luang Prabang but the journey in itself was worth it. On the way back we stopped at the whiskey village where we were exposed to the interesting way that rice whiskey is packaged… Yes those are actual snakes and large bugs packed in with the whiskey…
Lunch was at Joma, a bakery cafe on the river. I indulged in a taco salad and an almond cookie. There are many riverfront cafes. Perfect for resting tired feet and just enjoying the cool breeze. While it may not have been cool by everyone’s standards, one must remember that I have been living in Bangkok for awhile now so anything below 28 degrees Celsius is considered cool to me!
For the evening, I had made a reservation at Tamarind for their special Pun Pa Friday night dinner. I was joined by a lovely Canadian couple who had just moved to LP after traveling around for a few months. Dinner started with sticky rice and dips. A roasted eggplant dip and a tomato based dip tasted almost like guacamole and salsa or at least close enough for my taste buds. The next course was a platter of vegetables paired with a steamed fish and peanut sauce. This was similar to a dish that I have eaten in Thailand where one essentially makes lettuce wraps with the fish, sauce, and vegetables. Dessert was purple sticky rice with coconut, sesame seeds, and a tamarind sauce paired with a platter of fruit. It was one of those meals where you don’t feel full until about 10 minutes after you’ve stopped and at that point you feel really full.
On my final morning in LP I got to witness the monk procession. Every morning around 6am, monks take to the street to accept offerings from the faithful (and tourists!). Their orange garments can be spotted from far away. Walking around you see people readying their offerings and kneeling in prayer.