Mar 9, 2008
|We left for Luang Probang on our own mini bus which meant that we could stop more frequently. There were beautiful views with forested mt. ranges but many very poor hill people live here in huts built between the road and the cliff edge. It is a good thing I took a gravol pill because once again the road was very twisty with lots of ups and downs. We stopped at one small village just to walk around and at another for lunch. There were many children wanting their pictures taken so that we would pay them a few kip (8000 kip = $1). We also shared our lunch with several small children.
Two boys who would be about ten looked after the toilet which was a small building with three stalls each containing a squat toilet. It was very clean though somewhat damp because they kept it hosed down. It cost 2000 kip (25 cents)to use it.
Luang Probang is a very pretty town -lots of greenery. We did a walking tour after we arrived and had supper overlooking the Mekong River. The next day we were off on our own to explore. We climbed Mt. Phousi which is in the centre of town and excellent views of the area. There is a large temple right at the top. Then we took a small boat across the river to a small village where we wandered around. The people there were busy working on a variety of handicrafts and there were many terraced gardens along the river bank.
In the evening we went to the Royal Museum - very glittery - mostly about the former Royal family but not much other history.
After supper we went to the Royal ballet. It was quite different - the women used mostly hand and arm movements -it is remarkable how they can manipulate their fingers and wrists. Their outfits were very long and ornate so there was no leaping about. The men wore masks; their movements were more gymnastic and they used mime.
Our group leader had arranged a traditional Lao meal with explanations about the various foods. It was interesting and the food was very good. We had sticky rice with a variety of sauces, fish, lettuce rolls containing our choice of tomatoes, cucumbers, peanuts, green beans, onions, mint leaves and sauce. Dessert was a black rice with a sweet sauce. The owner, Joy, grew up in the mountains, was one of nine children and was very poor. At the age of 12 his parents sent him to a monastery so that he could get an education as they couldn't afford to send him to a regular school. He was a monk for 7 years and is now married to an Australian lady.
On day 3 in Luang, we were up at 5:30 to watch the parade of monks as they come out of the many monasteries and merge into one long line. They do this every morning as they collect alms in baskets they carry. People put sticky rice and other foods into the baskets.
After breakfast, six of us took a tuk tuk taxi - this time is was a small pickup truck - to Kwangsui falls. The falls are very impressive - they start out as one fall but split into many falls as they make their way through the jungle. We climbed up one side, across the top holding onto a bamboo rail in some places, and down the other side along a steep, rugged trail. Lloyd and the driver climbed up the middle of the falls.
On the way back we stopped a a Ming village - the Ming people aren't Buddhists - therefore their children can't be educated in the monasteries. They have schools in the villages but must pay to attend.