Published: May 15th 2012May 14th 2012
We left Xiangkhoung soon after breakfast, we went up to the intersection on the mountain, Phou Khoun, a small little town where you can see two rows of wooden shoplots, many Hmong, Laos and Hmu ladies selling vegetables, you also get to see tourists making a lunch stop and to ease themselves. This intersections is actually a cross road to Vientienne, Xiangkhoung and Luang Prabang. To reach any of these three destinations, you need to stop at Phou Khoun. Remember to bring your own lunch.
After lunch we headed towards Luang Prabang. While going down the winding zig zag road , it began to drizzle. I noticed our driver was tired and drove very fast to finish his job in Luang Prabang. The 4 wheeler skidded, making a 180 degree turn. My two lady friends right back slept, one lady in the middle was firm and myself was clutching the driver's shoulder, to affirm his attention on the wheel and in no time our car stood stiil, facing upwards instead downwards. Stunned is the word. Thank God our car did not hit the walls of the mountain nor did we plunge into the ravine. No damage was done. We only
left tyre tread marks on the road and the smelly burnt tyre filled the air in this lovely mountain. I looked at my driver, he kept saying" I don't know, I don't know"(thats the only two English words he ever spoke since the last four days). I told him, no matter how far the journey takes, just get us to Luang Prabang safely. So we decided to celebrate second life with a hearty meal that night in a well known restaurant, costing us 140,000 kip. The most expensive meal of our lives.
The weather in Luang Prabang was warm and humid. Very peaceful, very green, very clean, a valley with a very well planned town, I guessed it must be the French who designed such away after they colonised Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is actually situated in between two rivers, Mekong and Nam Khan. French colonial houses are usually found along the Mekong, Village houses and the modern ones are on the inland. Population is about 103,000.
There are many Buddhist temples around, the main three are the Wat Sen Temple, original name is Wat Sen Soukharam, built in 1718 by King Kitsarath. 100,000 stones were brought in
from the Mekong to built this temple, therefore it is known as "The Temple of 100,000 Stones".
Then Wat Xieng Thong, Temple of the Golden City built in 1559 and 1560 by King Setthathirath. It is situated in the confluence of two rivers The Mekong and Nam Khan. Look out for the Arts and Crafts, Carved Gilded Doors, The story of Buddha is in most paintings, copper toolings and ornamanted semi-stones mosaic paintings ( I don't have the actual word for this) . Look out for the picture attached.
Phou Si Hill is situated in the middle of the town, a tourist spot, below is the night market with restaurants and hotels. I can't remember how many steps to walk up Phou Si Hill, if not mistaken its more than 300 steps to see Wat Chom Si Temple, a 100 metres high, with a great view of Luang Prabang and the Mekong before the sunset.
Wat Pa Phouphao is situated on a small hill near the airport. It is a golden temple where you can actually view this from Phou Si hill. I saw some European ladies washing some plates and a group of monks had their
lunch on the verandah of their quarters or kuti. The European ladies were on retreat in this temple.
Wat Hoxiang is one of the beautiful temples in Luang Prabang, with its magnificent silver dragons on the sides of the steps to the temple. It was in the afternoon that I went there, unfortunately I did not see a single soul on the grounds of Wat Hoxiang. I found out they rest in the afternoon until 4.30pm for the prayers. So sorry I did not have any write-ups on this.
On the night market road, there is the Royal Palace, Haw Kam, now a national museum. In the afternoon they have local Lao drama and dance. On the outside of the hall, we met King Sisavang Vong in person..........the statue. One of the respected King since his time.
Night market was everyone talking about. A long stretch of vendors displaying their goodies for sale, bags, T-shirts, umbrellas, souvenirs, shoes and sandals, food and fruits, coffee and fruit juices to quench your thirst after a long days walk, along side with restaurants and cafes to cater for the tourists. Don't forget to try the cakes, its yummy. Tut-Tut awaiting
at the begining of the Night Market to take you home or wherever you desire. I walked to my hotel.
We visited two caves, Pak Ou caves, known as Buddha Cave, situated north of Mekong. The second caves is just a distance walk upwards by the sidewalk steps of Pak Ou, it is Tham Phum Cave. where you can find cavemens drawing on the walls. You can reach these caves by road (Tut-Tut) and by river ferry. 25 km from town is all that takes. Haggle with the Tut-Tut drivers.
Khoung Xi falls, 29km from town, through the villages on a narrow road, like never ending, I was beginning to feel anxious and yet impatient. I went alone minus my friends. So the journey alone can be worrisome because I do not know where the driver was taking me to. Khoung Xi is a natural park, with beautful waterfall, river and pools to swim in, jumping off from the rocks into the pool can be fun. Looking at Tarzans and Janes behaving like kids. They also have the Bear Sanctuary. I met a group of students(no school iniform),drinking beer, playing music with chopticks, beer cans and bottles, creating
an atmosphere so joyous and happy mood for every passerby. I took a video of them, hope you will enjoy this musical piece rendered by them.
There are more photos below