Lexi and Hiro's Round The World Journey 2008-2009 travel blog

A view from our balcony overlooking night market

Mekong River from Luang Prabang

good chat with monks

hiro playing thong-throwing game with kids, money betted!!

delicious food from street stalls

drying rice crackers on the street

A view from the top of the mountain in Luang Prabang

Alms Giving

Kuang Si Waterfalls

Hiro in the water

Luang Prabang. We instantly fell in love with this Unesco World-Heritage-listed town with incredible collection of French colonial architecture, dotted with ancient Buddhist wats and surrounded with emerald green mountains. It is very quiet and relaxing compared to other South-East Asian towns. We spent 4 days here, basically just relaxing and wondering through the different lanes of town, watching the simple lives of the friendly locals.

We stayed at Luang Prabang Bakery Guest House, located right on the main street, upstairs of teak-made local bakery. They only have 5 rooms all up, but the room was great with the balcony overlooking the street. It was $35 a night including great breakfast from the bakery!

Every morning, hundreds of monks walk around the whole town to collect alms such as rice and fruits from kneeling locals. We got up at 5:45 to watch this traditional ceremony. It was great to see such a tradition is still continuing with sincere respect for monks. Locals get up to do this every morning! On the other hand we were disappointed to see a few tourists not respecting simple rules to observe the event. There were many signs everywhere in the town to ask tourists not to use camera flash during alms-giving, and not to be too close to monks when taking photos. However when monks came around, it was like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie getting snapped by paparazzi. Flashes were everywhere, and tourists were very close to monks. It just destroyed sacred atmosphere of alms-giving.

In the afternoon, we visited a few temples in and around the town. We wondered into one of the small wats, and were greeted by young monks. We were surprised how well they speak English, and they speak a bit of Japanese too!! They were just having self-studying session, using very limited free time on weekend. They taught themselves English and Japanese with old text books. These young monks are so eager to learn when educational environment is so limited in Laos, we were impressed and motivated from this little chat with boys.

One of the main attractions in the area is Kuang si Falls. It was 45min bumpy mini-bus ride to take us to this multi-stage waterfall tumbling over limestone formations. We have visited a number of water falls on our journey both in Australia and Asia, but this one is definitely one of the best. The colour of the water is turquoise-green and it was refreshingly cool to swim in. Surrounding the waterfall are beautiful forest and flowers, and we saw heaps of butterflies.

Food was great in Luang Prabang. Due to the French influence from colonial time, Lao people eat a lot of French breads. This was good for Lexi dying for some bread. Hiro found his favourite noodle soup shop where he kept going back to eat during our stay in Luang Prabang. A bowl of rice-noodle soup with pork costs only $1, served with a bit of spring onion, bean sprouts and lime. We also enjoyed dinner at street food stall (yes we are brave). We had grilled whole fish from Mekong, BBQ pork ribs and chicken. We sat amongst locals and fellow tourists having cheap Lao beer.

We really enjoyed the time in Luang Prabang and now got a feeling that rest of Laos journey is going to be great! Now heading to Vang Vieng through the one of the most dangerous road in South East Asia!!

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