Taking the slow boat to Luang Prabang.

Trip Start Jul 05, 2012
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Trip End Jun 19, 2013


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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Monday, November 12, 2012

Highlights

Unique boat experience down the Nam Ou.
Me, Mark and Diana decided to take the slow boat from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang. It was apparently 'one of the greatest journeys in the world' according to our guide book. We bought our tickets the day before for 110,000 Kip each (9). We arrived at 10am the next day and joined the back of the already fairly long tourist queue. After our bags got chucked on the boat we followed and were packed on like sardines. The boat was long and thin, with two parallel wooden planks for us to sit on. There shouldn't have been more than 14 on the boat but this is Lao so we left with 20 people. Our legs crossed over and we fought for our own inch of space. Thankfully we planned ahead and brought some cushions with us to sit on, which made it slightly better. As we drifted down the river it was a nice experience, even though it was crammed the view was special. After a couple of bum-numbing hours we hit some rapids and the unlucky few at the front got drenched. We escaped and I admit, I laughed, no room and now soaking wet, they were not best pleased. After 6 hours of stunning views and painful backsides we reached Luang Prabang. Everyone was thankful. Good experience but maybe not for everyone!

Handicraft Market.
We spent an evening wandering around the nice evening handicraft market. There was some strange items such as snakes in whiskey bottles and painted tortoise shells amongst other things. We wanted to buy something authentic and were umming and arring about a buddhist monk painting we saw but with us being on a tight budget we couldn't get the price down. In the end we found a stall selling hand made duvet coverings and wall hangings. We decided to treat ourselves to a bed cover, again not thinking about the space in our back packs haha. 

Meeting Random French Man.
After arriving in Luang Prabang the 3 of us tried to find a guesthouse without much luck. We found a small alleyway with a guesthouse at the bottom and tried there. No luck, but as we turned around, there was the random French man watching us! Same clothes, same shoulder bag, we're sure he wasn't a traveler. This time however he spoke. Not only that he even offered to show us to a guest house. Sadly it was way too far away so we declined. We did pass him another two times in Luang Prabang, again he seemed to be wearing the same clothes! Diana joked it was her dad checking up on her.

Lowlights

Night Food Market.
We thought we came across a good deal for dinner. 80p for a full plate of food from the buffet. Once we loaded our plates with a random selection on god knows what we sat down and tucked in. The food was cold, clearly it hadn't been cooked recently and worst of all, I chucked some fish curry all over mine which was the worst thing I've ever eaten. We didn't go back.

Luang Prabang.
With its old French colonial buildings and ridiculous amounts of tourists squeezed into a small area (pretty much one street), Luang Prabang felt like a European city. We had to keep reminding ourselves we were in Laos and not France. It was a nice city but not authentic enough for us.
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Comments

Robert Edminson on

I can understand your feelings about Luang Prabang. it has certainly changed since I visited it in 1993! 3 hotels and 2 guest houses. No electricity except from 7pm to 7am. Government escorted tours only! By 1998 it had changed a lot but was still OK. Went back last year 2012 to meet up with my Lao guide from 1993 who now is the No2 for Lao Tourism and also has his own guest house. Now I would only use LP as an 'upmarket break' in any trip to Lao and doubt that I'll be back. If you are short of time on any planned trip to Lao cut down on Luang Prabang Van Vien and Vientianne.

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