Spiced up my trip
Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
27Trip End Jun 23, 2009
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Where I stayed
Before even spending one night in LP, I already had a good feeling about it. Because it is a world heritage city, the old buildings have been restored and the city will never become modernized. The main part of town is shaped like a peninsula, surrounded by the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers, which meet at the tip. While the town is full of tourists and backpackers, it is still a very laid-back town with plenty to explore. I stayed in a cheap dorm guesthouse near the Mekong and met a lot of travelers who had taken the infamous, exhausting slow boat from Thailand. We ate at a highly recommended restaurant along the river called Mekong Fish and I had some outstanding Fish Lap (famous local dish).
The only hostel in Luang Prabang is called Spicy Laos Backpackers, which I soon found out would be the reason for my lengthy stay in this town. At first, it was only the name of a place at which I was supposed to pick up a book from a fellow traveler. When I arrived there, I immediately felt at home and I hadn't even spent a night. It wasn't even the free breakfast, free internet and movie room that kept me at his 7 month new hostel. I have to give props to Pong, who runs Spicy Laos and has a wealth of knowledge beyond most guesthouse owners. He gave two talks about the history of Laos and about Buddhism, both very interesting from the perspective of a Thai native now living in Laos.
Besides Pong, I got to know some other travelers and ended up spending Christmas and New Years with them. For Xmas dinner, a place called Lao-Lao Garden had a special BBQ dinner with turkey and water buffalo and they let you cook it yourself at the table. There were lots of Xmas decorations all around the city, a huge tree in the middle of town, and many people wearing Santa hats. It didn't really feel like Christmas, but we made the most of it and of course went bowling at 2am that night. Oddly enough, the bowling alley is the only place in town that remains open late. There is actually a curfew in town at midnight, but it was lifted around Xmas and New Years Eve
Other highlights of LP include kayaking down the Nam Ou river, the Kaung Si Waterfalls, (I went twice) which is one of the coolest places I've even been to, and exploring the town on foot for hours. Some places are difficult to describe in words and pictures don't do them justice, but this place will always be implanted in my memory. My 10 days in LP were well spent, whether active or relaxed and I will definitely return one day. I'm actually not really sure why I left, but the decision seemed right at the time. I left by walking down the main road headed north (sound familiar?) with the company of an 8-year-old kid who wanted to practice his English with me for awhile.
Next Stop: Nong Kiaw & Moung Ngoi