Luang Prabang and a disappointing sunset.
Luang Prabang Is a UNESCO heritage site due to it’s French colonial feel and picturesque views. Today we were ready for 8:30am, before we left the girl working at our hotel told us about an end of the rains festival where they race boats down the river.
The minivan that picked us up was modern and only had a small chip in the window which was a bonus after the last van. The driver also looked more respectable according to Leia. After picking a few more people up we started the supposedly 6 hour drive across winding mountain roads, past fields of tobacco, pepper and vast jungles cascading down the mountainside. Through small villages and past even smaller communities of one or two houses.
The roads were in a lot better shape than from Vientiane to Vang Vieng but the driver still had his foot on Tue brakes when travelling downhill. We soon saw why as we passed a car that had flipped onto it’s roof with the passengers sat looking forlorn on the side of the road. After 4 hours we made a second stop which I assumed was a toilet and good break, until the driver started getting bags out of the back.
We were in Luang Prabang. Although instead of dropping us in the centre, they had dropped us just outside and left us to the mercy of tuk tuk drivers. Luckily there was a Spanish couple willing to bargain and we got the journey for 10,000 kip each, less than a pound.
Getting dropped off on the main road we walked in what I assumed was the direction of the Mekong river where I knew our guest house was located. After ten minutes we had found it, and were warmly welcomed in by the Vietnamese host.
Our room was right next to the counter and was huge! With 3 single beds. We quickly got ready and wandered down the Mekong, locating a place for lunch that had decking out over the river. The food was okay, enough to keep us going. So we paid up and carried on walking along the peninsula seeing varying sized boats being built out of wood and paper with torches and candles covering them ready for a festival tomorrow.
They were so colourful and bright and we noticed the town had more paper lamps and decorations strewn about. It was all very pretty. We also noticed that it was very touristy, even compared to Vang Vieng. I think it attracts an older crowd and you could see the difference. After circling the peninsula we made our way to Mount , a hill in the middle of town with various temples where saffron clothed monks live. The summit is supposed to hold breathtaking views so we clambered up the steps, past gold Buddhas of various shapes, poses and sizes and reached the top.
This activity is high on a lot of lists so unfortunately it was quite busy at the top, but not so busy that you couldn’t enjoy it. We got there with plenty of time to spare and found a great spot in the corner of a balcony. The views were excellent as you looked over the karsts with most swirling through the valleys between them.
The sun started dropping but unfortunately there was a thick bank of clouds on the horizon so we missed out on a glorious sunset. It was still good but I think we have all seen better on the west coast of Wales. Slightly disappointed but still happy we climbed up we descended into the town and found ourselves in the midst of bright red market stalls.
Wandering through we made our way to the hotel, washed the days dirt, sweat and grease off and went searching for food.
Walking through the night markets all you could smell was bbq meat. As we were wandering Leia spotted a buffet, 1 plate for 10,000 kip. This is like 80p! Liam and Leia both went for it but I realised it was all veg and I was craving bbq’d pork. The guys said it was delicious and we sat on a long communal table chatting to other travellers.
After filling their bellies on loads of nice veg food it was cake time. Due to it’s French influence Luang Prabang has lots of places selling baguettes, crepes and all manner of cakes. So we stopped off at a stall and had brownies and a cinnamon twirl. After this I was craving meat even more and noticed a smaller alley filled with street food vendors. We walked down and I immediately spotted what I thought was belly pork on a stick. Unfortunately it was just pork fat and although it tasted nice it wasn’t for me. So I ended up doing a buffet that was 5,000 kip more but did have a larger choice. It was all good and the belly pork fat went nicely with the rice, noodles and spring rolls.
After eating and knowing there’s an 11:30pm curfew we went for juice shakes which were amazing. I had pineapple, Leia had pineapple and dragon fruit and Liam went for mango and passion fruit. The mango still tastes like grass and we guess it must be a different type here. The stalls selling them are cute and had various signs written in English extolling their virtues over other stalls.
After this the hotel beckoned and we sat up for a bit but soon sleep engulfed us as we looked forward to a waterfall trip and seeing rescued sun bears the following day.