Posts Tagged ‘Luang Prabang’

  • Luang Prabang


    For many centuries the city was the former capital of Laos, where artisans, Buddhist monks and merchants of the Khmer kingdom lived in harmony. Dominated for several kings during 6 centuries, it was the most powerful area of the Indochina peninsula. For many years suffered the occupation of Burmese and Siamese reigns until king Oun Khan finally signed a cooperation pact with France, starting thus the French colony period.


    Luang Prabang is renowed for its outstanding cultural and natural beauty. The town is one of the best preserved places in Southeast Asia and its beautifully restored temples, period buildings, traditional cultures and tranquil atmosphere make it one of our favourite cities so far in this trip. We found a small but charming guesthouse (Mai Pai Inn House) in the old quarter just next to the Wat Xieng Thong, the city’s oldest and most magnificient temple. The wooden and bamboo lodge is run by an old Turkish ex-archaeologist who has been travelling for long time and, fascinated by the city, decided to stay in Luang Prabang. He was very friendly and thoughful, always trying to help us in any possible way and has been for us one of the best hosts in Asia, we felt like at home and will definetely come back if we ever go back to Luang Prabang.


    The city mix of shiny temple roofs, crumbling French provincial architecture with its fading facades and multiethnic inhabitants gives a feeling of a town lost in time and trends to captivate almost all the travellers. Hmong, Mien and Thai tribal people can often be seen walking around town on their way to the markets. Orange-wrapped Buddhist monks walk along the streets early morning for the alms giving ceremony, called Tak Bat. Every morning the people line up the streets to offer food and pay respect to the monks who form a procession through the town in a beautiful yet solemn religious ceremony. There are many sites to visit in the city and many surrounding villages, rural communities and mountians to explore, but above all it’s a great place in which simply relax and unwind.


    Unfortunately, our digital camera broke and we couldn’t find any place to fix it. Laos is not a developed country and reparation shops are nowhere to be found. So we have had to change our route and go directly to Vientiane, to see if we could find someone who was able to repair it, fingers crossed!!!


  • Navigating the Mekong river downstream


    We went back to Huay Xai just as a stopover before boarding a slow boat going down the Mekong river southeast to Luang Prabang. We got into the barge with many other foreigners and a couple of local people. There we found Kip and his wife again, a Dutch couple that we met in Thaton and again in Chiang Rai and who are travelling around Southeast Asia riding their bicycles (it’s not the first time that we keep on finding again and again people that we have met along the way).


    Navigating this part of the Mekong river it’s been such a scenic boat trip. The boat moves forward slowly through the Mekong’s brown waters, one of the biggest rivers in the world. The first span of the trip goes between Thailand and Laos riversides, both covered of dense vegetation and sprinkled with little villages. A sand beach in one of the shores, kids playing on the riverbank, few rocks in the middle of the river or some rapids make the journey different and exciting as we continue downstream. After seven hours we arrive to Pak Beng, a small riverside town half way of the trip and where we will spend the night.


    The next morning we hop on the boat again and navigate along the river getting inside Laos territory. Sometimes the boat stops in one of the villages to pick up more passengers or goods, is on that moments when we can observe closer the life along Mekong’s shore: children splashing in the water, a fisherman repairing the fishing nets, women in their bath time… After eight hours we arrive to Luang Prabang, a beautiful city encircled by lush emerald mountains and set at the confluence of the Khan and the Mekong rivers.