A Travellerspoint blog

No choice but to relax...Luang Prabang

I woke up to soft rock music playing in a restaurant courtyard across from my window. My shoelaces were strung through the window screen, holding up my stinking runners that still faintly smelled of “eau de rotting rainforest”. In my fervent attempt to wash my shoes the night before, my tiny little guesthouse introduced me to the inventive shortcuts that the Lao people employ in plumbing. Bleary-eyed, I vaguely remembered my feet getting soaked under the sink as I scrubbed my shoes. Upon careful investigation, I noticed that the sink emptied directly onto the floor. This technique promotes an efficient system where all utilized water disappears down one gaping floor drain, along with dead crickets and any other unlucky protein runoff. I had no idea how quickly I could get used to something so entirely nonsensical, but did learn to just spread my feet behind me whenever I turned on the infamous tap.
Luang Prabang must be explored on a bicycle. The Mekong and the Nam provide pretty riverside views almost all of the way around the town, and there are many colonial buildings to admire on each street. There were some impressive wats (temples) to visit, and the sunset from the highest point in town was worthwhile, even when surrounded by inevitably pushy, sweaty tourists. I took a cooking class and went to market. Aside from the putrid odours emanating from dead animal parts on the far side, the market was a lot of fun to explore. I found a restaurant called “Utopia”, which is actually owned by two Canadians from London. They obviously still had the University of Western Ontario in the forefront of their minds when Utopia was built, as the floor plan included a day AND night beach volleyball court in the middle of their lush, tropical hideaway.
Aside from enjoying the food and my daily one-speed bicycle excursions, I can quite honestly say that three days in Luang Prabang would have been enough. I stayed for eight, and enjoyed the extra pleasures of spa treatments, a daily morning coffee and baguette ritual, an elephant/waterfall adventure, and taking part in a parade that was actually a funeral. I am sad to admit that I took a picture of the first ‘float’, and then realized that the passengers in the back of the pickup were accompanying a casket.
The only notable stress of my entire 8 days in the school of relaxation was the moment at which my mama elephant went rogue as she reacted to a nearby truck engine. She backed us up a hill into the hydro wires, and I remember wondering to whom I should pray in order to survive. Not only did the mahout (elephant driver) shout at the truck driver, but he added some extra excitement by whipping the elephant forward into a bolting frenzy, straight down a hill towards her 250 kg of reward snacks. It was a fantastic day, nonetheless, and I even bought the token t-shirt!
I was ready for Vietnam after simmering in the restful vibe of Luang Prabang, but under no uncertain terms would I travel by bus. Horns still blaring in my head, I was indelibly marked by the ground transportation in Laos. Vietnam Airlines instantly won my support, and off I flew to Hanoi.

Posted by Lana007 03:39

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