Luang Prabang

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
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Trip End Jul 23, 2013


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, Louangphabang,
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not surprising, after yesterday dramas, we were late getting up. The Hotel did not do breakfast although coffee and tea are 'on tap'. They did not seem to know what fresh milk was and could only offer Carnation evaporated milk (OK in coffee, disgusting in tea) or powdered milk. Unfortunately, the Hotel did not believe in offering either, so I had to have my morning cuppa black.

We walked into the centre of the old town and sat down in a little open cafe to order breakfast. Terry ordered a three egg omelette with tomato, onion and cheese, and I asked for fruit and yoghurt with Museli. Both servings were enormous and we knew we wouldn't have to eat again until the evening.

We wandered along the main streets of the old town peninsula visiting various Wats and boutique shops selling handicraft items, antiques and various artworks, all housed in magnificent colonial houses. As is the Downes tradition, we just kept walking until we got to the end of the peninsula, where we stopped for a much needed drink at the Mekong View Cafe. This cafe ( believe it or not) overlooks the Mekong River, just where the Khan River flows into it. The views all around us were breathtaking; we were able to identify Buddhist Monks in their bright orange cloaks ferrying back and forth, and locals with simple fishing lines hoping for a catch. We saw long boats flowing down stream and powered boats struggling upstream, sometimes with a full load of people, other times with just one or two. We spent a long time just sitting there, taking in the ambiance of the atmosphere, the fauna and flora that surrounded us - it was so peaceful.

As more people were turning up at the cafe to eat, and we were still stuffed from breakfast, we decided to walk back into the town. Terry had spotted an old Wat on a hill that he thought would be good to visit. At the bottom a sign warned you that the climb was over 300 steps to the top, but with true Downes determination, we decided to give it a go.
I tried not to count but couldn't help it. After about 100 steps, we reached a flat area where a little lady sat, next to a sign asking for 20.000 Kip to continue. We mulled over whether we were being screwed over again, but Terry felt that as the Wat was a heritage sight, we probably weren't. I was glad for the time out to catch my breath, so threw a few well chosen comments to put doubt in his mind, just so that I could secure a few more minutes in which to further brace myself for the next 200 steps.
It wasn't as bad as I had thought and we soon reached the Wat. Walking around the outside of the Wat enabled us to appreciate wonderful views across the whole peninsula, Luang Prabang and the suburbs. The pain had been worth it.

Once down again, we walked to the former Royal Palace and Ho Prabang Temple. We also popped into a Travel Agent to ascertain whether we were able to get a better deal on Flights to Hanoi than those offered on the internet; we were, so we booked for Friday 08th. Feb. This means we would be in Hanoi for Chinese New Year, on 10th Feb, which would be exciting. We walked back to the Hotel to freshen up (rest) and prepare for our evening meal at The Tamarind, which we had booked the night before.

The meal we had was pretty tasty and interesting. I say interesting because the waiters explain everything to you, for example, how to eat the food (!); how the meat is cooked or what herbs are used to spice up vegetables etc. We had both mains and a desert and although the servings were not huge, we felt satisfied when we left. With drinks, the bill came to 167.000 Kip which although sounds a lot, is actually only around £13.

On the way home, we popped into a few Tour Agents to make enquiries about organised tours to the Kuang Si waterfalls, which we had heard so much about. The best price we could get was 50.000 kip each. We booked two seats for the trip tomorrow at a cost of 100.000 kip, a mere £8.

When we got back to our Hotel, on entering our room I noticed movement from by the bed. Fearing it might be something awful, I jumped on the bed like a champion pole vaulter without a pole. It was only a small Gecko, but still I made Terry chase it out of the room. I didn't fancy it walking over my face during the night, with its little feet with suckers on them.
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