A sunset to remember
Trip Start Jun 01, 2010
158Trip End Mar 11, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
At the airport we check in to our flight with Air Lao. We had a tad too much weight, and the plane is a small ATR-72, similar to the ones that I flew for dozens of times during my work in Curacao. The planes pendled between Curacao and Aruba a couple of times a day. The overhead compartment are tine, so our carry on luggage does not fit in them. We had to check in all our carry on bags, and the fee for the little overweight was waived by the ground stewardess. Everything with a friendly smile and cooperative attitude. I think it would be a good idea for American Airline staff to be sent to Asia to get some proper hospitality training.
The flight was comfortable as we were seated on row one in the front of the plane. This also means you get out of the plane last as the doors are in the back. From the air we see the mountains and jungle of Thailand and Laos passing under us, and when we land at Luang Prabang airport we can see the town next to the airport. Like landing in Las Vegas and seeing the strip on the side, but then different.
Linda did her homework and had all the necessary visa forms prepared and filled out. So we smoothly get through immigration with our Laos visa in our passports. The airport is tiny, one runway and one small terminal building, so we quickly find our bags. Outside we grab a minivan that brings us to our stay for the coming nights, the Lotus Villa hotel, somewhere in downtown Luang Prabang.
The Hotel is comfortable but very basic. Our room is on the second floor of the main building. In front of the building there is a garden where breakfasts are served in the morning. We quickly settle in and head out to the Luang Prabar main street. It is a lovely town. As it is an UNESCO heritage site, the buildings are conserved in the old colonial style. The shop signs are all carved out of wood which gives the street a bit more appeal. No flashing neon signs here.
Our first point of attention is to get in touch with the people from the elephant village. We have spoken to them on the phone a few days earlier to make a reservation for a stay at the elephant village. They asked us to come by the office to make payment and confirm. The office is right on the main road, but when we found it the guy that we talked to was not there. We did manage to talk to a girl about the related Shangri Lao project. The advertisements outside the store implied that this resort was ready whilst the internet site told us that it would be operational later this year. And after talking to the girl we found out that the project was indeed not finished yet. It is an interesting concept though, the tour they offer is a trek of a couple of days through the jungle following some French discoverer's footsteps.
Anyhow we decided to give this some thought and return to the office tomorrow. As we continued down the street we walked in to the night market. A similar concept to the one in Chiang Mai, but a tad less touristic in its offering. Of course all the stalls are 10 centimeter too low here as well, so for me it was a pretty uncomfortable walk. We found our souvenir at the market, a fridge magnet, as we still hang on to the idea of only getting a magnet from every country we visit. We made our way down to the river crossing via a food street. Here the people were roasting fish and chicken over open fires and there were several stands where you could fill a plate of food for less than a dollar. It was very popular with the backpacking crowd, whom tried their luck on the acceptance level of their stomachs.
But for us it was a bit too early to eat so we headed to the river. At the river we saw an amazing sunset over the Laos hills and the Mee Kong river. There are literately no words to describe the magic of this, so I won't even try. It for sure has a place in our sunset top 10, which is still topped by the best sunset of the world, on the top Mauna Kea in Hawaii. As we walked back to the main street we passed the market again, and gave in to buying some pouches for Linda's handbag, and a new handbag to go with them. Paying too much for the handicraft goods we see as a form of social aid. I must admit the handbag is quite nice and a good replacement for the one we got in Mexico a few months earlier. This one is starting to show the scars of travel.
For our dinner we stranded at an authentic restaurant on the main street. Here we try a Laos food sampler set menu which was very appetizing. The Loas cuisine is noticeably minimalistic and simple. The food has no luxury frills and consists of simple ingredients and distinct flavors. After our dinner we headed back to our hotel. It was a long day, but yet another one that will reflect in our future memories now and then. The sunset, the little town of Luang Prabang, the overwhelmingly nice hotel in Chiang Mai, they will stay with us for ever.