Loving Life in Luang Prabang
Trip Start Nov 20, 2013
137Trip End Ongoing
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When we look back at our 5 days in Luang Prabang, we really didn't do all that much, but that was part of the allure and experience. Our days definitely weren't jam packed, yet we still had a great time.
One of the highlights of Luang Prabang was volunteering at Big Brother Mouse where we spoke with locals wanting to learn English. They were so eager to learn and speak with us and the feeling was mutual. The second time we were there, I spoke for more than an hour with Simon, a 20-year-old from a village hours away who is studying in Luang Prabang. Once he finishes his studies, he wants to teach English. His English was very strong and he said his focus was on proper pronunciation as his teacher at his university is Lao and therefore, teaches English with a Lao accent. I learned that Simon grew up in the mountains and he told me when they wanted to eat, they went out in the jungle and found their found. He doesn't like buying food from grocery stores because of the chemicals in them. He was a really interesting guy and we got along great. Before we knew it, it was time to go. Big Brother Mouse was a fantastic experience for us as we spoke English with people who spoke very strongly and others who were just beginning to learn.
Another highlight for us in Luang Prabang was the day we spent riding bicycles around the city. We passed lots of villages and ended up in non-touristy areas. We stopped for a drink at a bar and were the only foreigners. The bar had a fun and cool atmosphere and even though there is a drinking age in Laos (18 I believe), it's not strictly enforced and the majority of people in the bar were in their teens that were there just to have a drink with friends. And because the bar was "local", their prices for beer were about 20% less than what we've been paying in the touristy areas, although even in the touristy areas, a big bottle of beer (equivalent to 2 regular size bottles) is still less than $1.50 CDN. During our ride, we saw a beautiful sunset and saw where the two rivers meet (Mekong and Nam Khan).
While in Luang Prabang, we visited a textile gallery and weaving centre (called Ock Pop Tok, which means East meets West) where we saw all different kinds of textiles being created. A large initiative they have is with villages across the country where woman from those villages can weave and then sell their finished products as a way to generate income. We walked all the way up more than 300 steps to see a temple, buddhas, and a terrific view of the city. We spent a morning at an awesome waterfall, had a massage, drank lots of Beerlao, visited the Night Market daily (but didn't buy anything - typical us!), and became regulars at a sandwich stall (lunch) and a local restaurant called Sabaidee for dinner. The last night we had dinner with a woman from Singapore we met moments before and enjoyed the company!
But more than anything else, we just took Luang Prabang all in. It was quite easy to see how the locals live here. The people we met were so kind, even if many of them couldn't speak much (or any) English. If I had to pick one word to describe the city, it would be relaxed. We'll definitely miss it.