|We were awake early so decided to go up at 6am to watch the Buddhist Monks on their early morning procession collecting alms. It has become a tourist feature here in Luang Prabang with lines of little seats set out along the route that the Monks take from the Temple. Stalls with offerings of various food gifts such as sticky rice sell them to the tourists so that they can put them in the alms bowls that the monks carry. It all seemed very tacky in practice & more of a feeding frenzy of camera toting Chinese & Japanese snapping & flashing away as the monks moved along. It seemed so disrespectful so we kept our distance.
We were picked up by a tuk tuk at 7am & taken to the bus station to get the 8am VPI coach for the ten hour trip to the capital of Laos, Ventiane some 360kms to the South. The hotel had given us a breakfast package with a baguette, an omelette & some fruit so we sat & ate that while we waited.
Amazingly the bus started off more or less on time & we spent the next five hours meandering up & down the winding mountain roads, often above the cloud base. Slow & steady with a couple of toilet stops along the way. Once we got down to the flatter land we stopped the up & down bit but the road surfaces got worse with large sections without Tarmac & with lots of potholes which meant that progress was painfully slow. We eventually arrived in Ventiane about 6.30pm in the dark again. Another tuk tuk ride from the bus station with a load of other people meant we got a free tour of the city before being dropped off last again at our hotel.
A long & wearing day but at least our bus ticket had included lunch although that was pretty basic & cold to boot. We made up for it by having a romantic open air dinner at a food stall on the banks of the Mekong looking across to the lights of Thailand on the opposite bank.