"Beerlao - very, very delicious!"
21.07.2006 30 °C
After all the excitement of death defying tubing in Vang Vieng our next stop was Luang Prabang for some much needed R&R. Eric and Mel who we had been hanging out with in Vang Vieng were also heading that way so we all got the bus together.
Luang Prabang itself is really stunning, an incredible collection of Buddhist and French colonial architecture against a drop back of mountains. We found ourselves a really nice guesthouse on the banks of the Mekong River which was run by a very chilled out family. I was chatting to one of the son's about Laos and how I really liked it when he said he though the best thing about Laos was the beerlao which he declared "very, very delicious!" made me laugh - maybe you had to be there...
We visited the Royal Palace Museum which provides a real insight into the local history as this was the residence of King Sisavangvong and his family. The king died in 1959 and his son Savang Vattana inherited the throne, but shortly after the 1975 revolution he and his family were exiled to northern Laos and the palace was converted into a museum. So no-one can say I wasn't listening but I appreciate this must be abit boring for you guys so no more culture talk.
We also went to more waterfalls which to be fair weren't the most impressive waterfalls ever but you could swim in them and jump off the top into the water and there was also a rope swing thing you can swing on and then let go. So once we had done the usual teetering around the edge for 10 mins not wanting to go in because the water is cold we had lots of fun jumping and swinging off things.
There were alot of monks in Luang Prabang (presumably because there are a few temples) but these are cool monks who like to hang out man. They were at the night market, cash points and internet cafes looking all cool in their orange robes and shaved heads. I was doing a spot of emailing one day when a monk came in and started using the machine next to me to chat up some birds on MSN - I'm not sure Buddha would have approved it was getting pretty fizzy!
After 4 days in Luang Prabang it was time to move on, the fact you couldn't get a beer after 11pm didn't have anything to do with the decision. We were heading further north to Huay Xai as we plan to move onto northern Thailand and also because we had had a trip called "The Gibbon Experience" highly recommended by some mates we met in Vietnam. There are two ways of getting to Huay Xai, either by slow boat which takes 2 days or by speedboat which takes 6 hours. To save time we opted for the speed boat. Now I was expecting a James Bong style speed boat where I could lay in the roof working on my tan but then I remembered I was in Laos and that transport is always rather on the basic side.
When we arrived at harbor the following day we were both pretty shocked by this speed boat, not only was it tiny and apparently took 8 people but it also didn't look too sturdy. We were issued with a crash helmets and a lifejacket and took to our tiny seat (so small your knee's were round your ears) and off we sped. It was pretty scary at first as it was pretty nippy and you were sat about 3 inches above the water but we arrived safe and sound. There are some comedy photo's to follow.
Our next stop - The Gibbon Experience