Laos: Luang Prabang

We are on our last day in the small city of Luang Prabang in Laos. It is beautiful here; a much slower pace of life, very little traffic on the roads, great food and lovely people. We are sitting right now in a small restaurant called something bakery – everything here seems to have bakery tagged on the end but there is only one place actually any good at making real cakes, the rest are like cardboard. I originally ordered the papaya salad but had to give up on it as it blew my head off. Apparently it only had one chili in it as they made it mild for me (soft westerner) but Lao chilli’s must be literally mind blowing.
Luang Prabang was the former Royal Capital and it sits on the banks of the Mekong River. There are hundreds of monks here dressed in beautiful saffron robes who spend their days in quiet study and (very) early mornings collecting alms from the local people as they walk silently along the streets in a long line. It’s a ritual I tried to capture on camera at 5.30am this morning but unfortunately due to being left in a room with the air-con switched high all night – my camera was totally fogged up with condensation. I am trying to steel myself for another early rise tomorrow for a second attempt. It is quite a humbling experience watching the monks file slowly through the streets stopping for donations of sticky rice, fruit and treats which are placed in their alms bowls by the local Lao residents.

One of the buildings at the museum. The roof structure is very elaborate with several roofs layered one on top of another.
(Very) Long boats at one of the monasteries.

Closing the street for the night market.

The night market, there’s some great local handicrafts for sale. The quality and choice here is much better than in Vietnam.

Surely not………..Joe Strummer would turn in his grave.

Dave relaxing in our room at Sala Prabang Hotel.
I found a wonderful spa called Aroma right on the main street in town – I have been there 3 times already and am thinking of another visit today for a head and neck massage. (3 hours later – yes I went back for a head and neck massage!). At the equivalent of £3 for a full hour of indulgence at the nimble and well practised hands of the local Lao masseurs, I would be mad not to visit for a 4th time in 6 days. I am eating pretty well too, lots of fruit for breakfast, the local lychees look amazing with their pink and green hairy skins.

Tiny birds barbecued on a stick……complete with head, legs, wings and beak. Eeek!

One of the local food market stalls.

Wandering the streets of Luang Prabang.

We saw a great photographic exhibition at a gallery at the local museum; The Floating Buddha. Black and white photographs depicting Buddhist monks daily life in Laos, taken by a German photographer who has spent many years studying religions in different countries.

We met a couple of Irish girls called Caroline and Sharon and spent quality time with them on a few occasions around the town. Here Sharon barters hard with a local girl selling bracelets. I’d put money on Sharon coming out best on the deal!

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