August 3, 2007
Luang Prabang reminded me a lot of Hoi An in Vietnam, but seemed to be in much better shape. Maybe it’s further along in the restoration/preservation process. There was one main walking/eating street with a great selection of French and French-influenced restaurants and cafes. But being true travelers were stuck to Asian foods, and the fact that we were watching our cash situation. On the evening that we arrived, Sam and I headed for a Thai restaurant. I missed Thai Green curry, and Sam had Tom Yum Kung (Thai spicy soup with Prawns).
One of many pools at the waterfall of Kouang The next day we rented bicycles and went for a ride out to the Kouang Si waterfalls. It was over 30 kilometres away, but we wanted to be macho and ride out there. We left early, but an hour into the ride I was pushing too hard on the pedals and I broke my chain. We hailed a passing tuk-tuk back to Luang Prabang, and got the chain fixed. We then settled to pay another tuk-tuk driver $15US to take us out. It was well worth it, I didn’t see any tourists riding bikes on the way, as the road was very hilly. I don’t think we would have made it.
Luang Prabang has a night market mostly consisting of textiles made by various hill tribes in the area. Most women I know would have loved this market. This draws parallels with Hoi An, the shopping town. Sam and I picked a few t-shirts to replace our grimy well-worn ones.
An annoying incident involved exchanging our US money for Lao Kip. We had a 100 dollar bill, and it had a red dye stain on it: similar to a tie-dye t-shirt pattern. When we went to the bank the lady there looked at the note, pushed it back, and said “No! Want new one.” I couldn’t believe it. However Sam managed to change it at a Internet cafe, albeit at a worse conversion rate.
We ended up staying in Luang Prabang another day after recovering from a hangover. We met a Belgium traveler and in turn we met other European travelers at a bar called the Hive.As the bar scene in Laos closes at midnight, everyone in Luang Prabang goes 10 pin bowling afterwards. This was my first time playing and sad enough to say I rarely hit the faint white pins at the far end of the rink.
We were under whelmed with Luang Prabang, despite people saying that they loved the place. It was probably because we had come from Vietnam first. Most people go to Laos from Thailand then onto Vietnam. Our next stop was south with the rest of the backer packer crowd:Vang Vieng.