Trip Start Oct 19, 2006
55Trip End Apr 05, 2007
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It's the dry season now, which means that the river is low, and gardens of marigolds, tomatoes, eggplants, are planted all along the river banks
As we get toward the end of our trip, Christopher and I are finding it hard to concentrate on traveling. Distracted by thoughts and plans for when we get back to the States, we are having to work harder to feel motivated to do sightseeing around town. We are also feeling the pinch of getting to the bottom of our money-supply. This means we are trying to cut some corners, to save money where we can. After our first night in Luang Prabang, we checked out several other guesthouses - all the rooms in town are $10, several dollars more than we were hoping based on our guidebooks (apparently LP has become much more touristed even in the year since our books were written). We did find a room for $7, but the cheap price is because the room doesn't have a window. Maybe that's why the light seems so important to me, after a week of waking up in complete darkness
We have managed to see lots of Luang Prabang, even if it's been an effort. We climbed to the top of the one lonely hill, past several old wats and a huge footprint of the Buddha. Despite the haze, we could see the lights of LP extending far past where we had walked around town, and the darkness of the river.
We crossed the Mekong to the small village on the other side and visited an abandoned wat and monastery as well as a deep hot cave-wat. The abandoned monastery had so many neat buildings with sweeping stone stairways leading to (but unattached to) timber and plaster buildings of simple small rooms. We saw a new kind of building - a walking meditation hall. Just a long narrow building with a door in the middle, low ceilings, and enough room for two people to stand next to each other.
We visited the national museum which was the Royal palace until the royal family was ousted in 1975 and disappeared, never to be heard from again.
We rented bikes to ride around town one day, which was fun, until one of the bikes got stolen
Just up the street from us, across from the closest wat, is an abandoned yellow house. I have been having a week-long daydream about buying the house and property and fixing it up. It has two floors, and the upstairs has a room that Christopher suggested would be perfect for a library, with a sunny reading nook. That was the last straw - this is the perfect house. No need to keep looking for apartments in Philly, I'm moving to this small street in Luang Prabang. Unfortunately, we found out that the house is owned by (or at least protected by) UNESCO and so they aren't really looking to sell it to me. It's probably for the best - I had decided that I'd learn construction in order to be able to do it all myself, and my maximum offer for the house, shed, and property could only be about twelve dollars at this point. So, I'm just enjoying the fantasy.
We found out about the house by going to the Heritage Foundation office in town and looking at their database
Since the boatload of tourists arrives every day around 6, a night market is a perfect idea. It sets up along the main street each
evening, maybe 100 tarps laid on the ground with perfectly organized
displays. Christopher and I were happy to see some new things, some
beautiful handmade embroidery and quilt-square crafts. They also sell
t-shirts (of course), Lao coffee and tea, old opium pots and silver and
bronze weights for weighing opium. (We have been offered opium several
times.) We walked through the market several nights before we made our
big shopping trip, still trying to save pennies by bargaining hard and
thinking about exactly how much space we have left in our bags. Won't
be that long now before we have to somehow get everything on the plane