Published: March 13th 2012March 5th 2012
Our flight number for Luang Prabang is now calling us to the boarding gate, 8.30pm departure. We pass through 2 main gates down a few flight of stairs and boarded a shuttle bus. Looking towards the tarmac we see one small lonely Lao plane, surely this can not be for us!!! it's less than 100mts away! Finally the shuttle bus moves. It seems so funny as we pull up along side that exact plane.
All aboard, it's not long before we're in the air, 1 hr 30mins, dinner and drinks provided. I'm so glade we took this option, I'm starting to get calluses on my bum.
A tuk tuk delivers us to our next hotel, family owned. This is in the old section of town, there is a 11.30pm night curfew, no drinking or drunken behavior is accepted also no bare chests or bikini tops allowed.
Luang Prabang is a quiet, slower paced town, no honking off horns, way less traffic, riding bicycles, walking and tuk tuk's are the main means of transportation. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995.
The food and grog are cheaper than in Vietnam and every bit as yummy. On the
down side accommodation is getting more expensive (approx $13 - $15 pp). What's left of the day is spent Looking for an ATM, we now need Lao money.
Day 1 - Today we will check out more temples, one of which is perched on top of a hill in the central township - Mount Phousi (Sacred Hill)
There are three main levels and over 1 thousand steps to lead you to the various locations of Buddha. Young novice monks in their bright gold coloured robes roaming the street and Wats. Their Wats (temples) are very colourful and look very similar to Temples found in Thailand.
As you slowly decend down the mountains many steps you look over the Royal Palace Museum and a large ornate pavilion Haw Kam, highly coloured in gold, green shiny mosaic tiles and white Paint.
Lunch is down by the Melong River, sitting in the shade watching the busy river long boats with loads of tourist heading north to one of many activities up river. One of the Amigo's is battling a head cold, so heads back for rest, while the other two take a tour up the Mekong River to see
Pak Ou Cave.
The journey up the river is on a long skinny boat with wooden boards for seats, for 3 hr to the Pak Ou cave, The cave is situated high in the side of a mountain on the Mekong waters edge, a climb of 15 metres up carved stone steps, you soon see from the entry thousands of Buddha's of all shape and sizes, made from many types of material placed all around the cave. There are two caves to be viewed, each separated by steps.
Life on the Melong is a hive of activity, as you travel along, you can see people panning for gold, pulling up river weed, fishing, water buffalos and elephants.
On our return trip sitting on a hard boards for another 2 hrs with the sun beating down, it decided its time for a cold local beer called "Beer Lao" when we reach our destination. Two cold beers are ordered as per normal practice, but this time we were both surprised, the beer is double in size (Longnecks) and only a $1.
Wondering back to the hotel to check on our other traveler, then head out to dinner and
night markets. The main street is closed off and is now a three stalls wide for approx 1 km. The usually type of wares are on display (quilts, silver jewellery, clothing, shoes, food etc),
Day 2 - Today is another day of visiting Wats and Stupas (temples) and walking along around the various streets.
"Golden City or Golden Tree Monastery - Wat Xieng Thong is very old, built around the 1560, is situated on an embankment above the Mekong near the juncture with the Nam Khan River and often served as the gateway to the town.
Wat Xieng Thong is an example of an original Laos temple and is under careful restoration due to many years of neglect.
"That Pathum" is one of the more unusually shaped stupas in Luang Prabang. It is located within the compound of Wat Wisunalat. That Pathum means Stupa of the Great Lotus, but among the locals, it is affectionately called That Makmo, meaning Watermelon Stupa, on account of its rotund shape.
After many hours of walking and photos its time for Lunch and rest. Later we will go and see a cultural fashion show, then a quick visit to
the night markets for one last oportunity to spend money on nik naks.
The Cultral show, is showcasing 49 different ethnic groups living in Laos today. Much of the clothing seen in the show is very rarely seen in the more populated towns, but can still be seen in the hill villages.
Day 3 - Luang Prabang is known for the early morning parade of monks weaving their way around the streets collecting their share of cooked rice for the day. They start about 5 am each morning, so if you are keen you can catch a glimpse and maybe get a photo or two. Unfortunately it is still dark, so the photo's have been a little disappointing.
8.30 a small bus takes us to the Main Bus Station as we head to Vieng Vang our next distination by VIP Seater Bus.
There are more photos below