Luang Prabang, Laos

More highlights from Laos. The city of Luang Prabang is lovely, a nice mix of old and new…the “sometimes” nature of wifi was a reminder that we were in a developing country.

We visited a village along the Mekong, delivering gifts from Road Scholar: tin and wood for the school-house roof.
I found the village signs interesting. As you can see, the Lao aren’t big on spaces between words, which make it an extremely challenging language to learn.

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Their English is way better than MY Laotian. I have barely learned how to say “hello”.

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Our young guide escorted us to the schoolhouse.
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The kiddies were on their lunch break, but they gathered to sing to us.  We reciprocated with a rousing chorus of “row, row, row your boat.”

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How could I not buy something from this sweet boy? I think Low Price Lenny might like a snail with a Buddha painted on his back.
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Notice the bill in the baby’s hand? She helped her mother sell me a scarf so she demanded HER cut!
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One more view of the Mekong, then we were on our way back to Luang Prabang.

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First our guide Man (that’s his name, not a description) serenaded us, then he turned into a bartender, whipping up some killer gin and tonics. What a great way to end the trip!
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Several of the ladies decided we could fit in another trip to the night market and a relaxing drink at the Villa Santi if we got ourselves to The Indestructible Rock (that night’s restaurant) on our own. No photos of that excursion…just great memories.

Lovely Laos

The Internet is a “sometimes” thing in Laos, which makes blogging a challenge. So, that’s why these posts are being uploaded in Cambodia. But I sure did love our time in Luang Prabang. Get ready for some highlights.

Monks get up at 4 AM every day. They are not allowed to eat after noon; all their food comes from donations so they hit the road early every morning. The head monk leads the way, followed by the “novices”. I┬ádon’t blame this little guy for yawning…so was I.
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Back View, heading to the WAT
Back View, heading to the WAT

We followed them to Wat Xiang Thong, formerly the Royal Palace back when Luang Prabang was the capital of Laos. When the king decided to move the capital to Vientiane, he donated his home to the monks.

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The techniques to create the beautiful glass mosaics were learned from the Japanese.

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Similar mosaics cover the walls of the Throne Room in the National Museum, but we weren’t allowed to photograph there. In the National Museum, the walls and ceilings are a deep Chinese red, which makes the glass mosaics even more stunning. The National Museum was built by the French for the last King of Thailand, who ended up in a reeducation camp after the 1975 revolution.

We visited Ock Pop Tok (East meets West) where we met Jo and Val, who demonstrated how their beautiful silk garments were made, starting from the silkworm, through weaving and dying.

Val and Jo
Val and Jo

Do you recognize one of the workers, busily (and professionally) dying a silk scarf?
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We managed to cruise through both the night and the morning markets. These markets are set up and taken down every day!

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Speaking of cruising, we did just that, along the Mekong, to the Pak Ou caves, an important religious site for Laos.

Mike, intently studying the map of the Mekong
Mike, intently studying the map of the Mekong

 

The view of the river from the cave
The view of the river from the cave

Barbara left a small Buddha in the cave, just like a local.

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Could that be Indiana Jones, looking for Buddha?

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Getting to and from our vessel took balance, as demonstrated by Linda.

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Goodbye Laos, Hello Cambodia

We had a free hour and a half before we left for the airport, so I flagged down a man driving his truck in front of our hotel. He agreed to drive us around Luang Prabang for an hour for $15.00. But first, we had to stop off to deliver eggs and vegetables to a local store.

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Here I am with our friendly driver.
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Mike wasn’t feeling adventurous but my new friend Caroline was rarin to go. (Nancy, meet your new friend).
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Check out the boards on the walkway, not the most secure…but the view of the Mekong was so worth it!

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We climbed Phusi Hill, but didn’t have time to make it up to the top (all 350+steps) because we were running out of time. We got about 3/4 of the way up and figured we’d better not miss the bus to the airport.

We DID catch some unusual sights along the way. Any future Road Scholars travelers reading this, a quick spin around the city in the back of a truck in the early morning is a great way to travel!

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I always wanted to mount a Naga, and this one looked agreeable.
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This is a Chinese Buddha. How can I tell? He is fat and smiling. The Thai and Lao Buddhas a thin and serious.
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And now some views from the hill.
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Those orange dots in the distance are monks that have just crossed the bamboo bridge.
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The last image of the day…our bathroom, with the huge tub and no shower curtain. It made showering an adventure. I was glad I brought my bath oil!
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