Post # 8 Luang Prabang Laos
Day 13 1067 days to go. I have just been typing for about 2 hours and accidentally deleted everything. Bugga – the only benefit is that I get to recall the cool memories again from the last few days – what a great few days it’s been. It started in Houy Xia. While I waited from Mr Khum to piggy moped me to the long boat I wondered through town. I me this young girl Sun working a street stall and we got talking of sorts. I showed her Laos maps and my language guide and after the obligatory questions of “By yourself?” “Where’s husband?” “No Children?” we got onto a language lesson giggling at each other trying to pronounce the others words and phases. I must have spent about one and a half hours with her it was really fun and a lovely memory now. Mr Khum interrupted and hurried me down to the port where this very industrious Laos man was ushering on passengers and luggage. Ruby was tied on the roof along with her trailer and we headed about midday down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. This region of Laos is truly beautiful. The river winds through limestone hills and cliffs covered with dense jungle and intermittent with villages of stilt A-frame wooden huts. The river in beached with white sand that meets jungle. Apparently its one of the last frontiers of south east asia as it was heavily bombed during the Vietnam war and many unexploded bombs remain in the mountains. As such wild tigers, leopards, monkeys, elephants and many other otherwise endangered animals wonder these areas safe from man. How ironic that such a horror provides such an opportunity for these amazing creatures. Signs of a village is first spotted by river with boats, fishermen, nets, children playing soccer,domestic water buffalo, green crops in rows planted in the sand, goats and pigs. Nearby in the hills you’ll start to spot the tips of A frames or stilts and random plantations of banana, tobacco or coffee. But mostly its jungle and very very very gorgeous. The river winds around limestone rock and there are sections of world pools and small rapid where the river narrows. About 3 hours into it we ran aground some rocks and started taking on water. We moored on a sandbank and were all unloaded to wait for a new boat. It gave us a chance to mix and I have met some amazing people. Mat and Dora from Switzerland are on a 1 year trip and I loved listening to their stories from places so far travelled like Rajakstan India, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand. There were a world challenge group of 16 year olds from Perth lead by Hanna from the UK. They will currently be arriving at a local village to assist the people with project work. It’s such a great program where the kids learn how to manage independent travel and understand the difference and needs of other cultures. Most importantly that a little hand can make a difference. Hanna was great fun and very interesting full of information and stories doing this line of work for the last 6 years. She has studied philosophy and theology and I really enjoyed her company and conversation over the last days. I wish her and the group all the best for their remaining travel and project work. Anyway back to the story. The new boat arrived and we hauled back on and onwards. Unfortunately our scheduled arrival in midway village Pakbeng was delayed and we ended up having to sleep on the beach in the middle of now where. I’m so glad we stopped as it was very unnerving when the driver started to try navigate by torchlight. But most passengers took the event as a huge adventure and in no time there was a huge fire raging and lots of nervous and excited conversation. At one stage I stopped and realized I was camping on a white sand beach under the moon and stars along the Mekong in the jungles of Laos. What do you reckon 🙂 Awesome to say the very very very least. The next morning we were ushered up and back onto the boat at 6am and arrived in Pekang for Breakfast. I found a great cafe with a view down the river and devoured a baguette and coffee with condense milk yum. It was the bluest of days the the remaining trip was stunning with the mountains becoming more sheer and impressive. We stopped along the way picking and dropping off locals and I sat with a handful of other Loas and travellers at the rear of the boat and oooo and aaahed my way into Luang Prabang arriving about 6pm. I got to enjoy sunset white I waited for Ruby to be unloaded and headed off to find this guest house where I’m staying now for 2 nights to enjoy this world heritage jewel of Asia. We were fortunate to arrive on a festival night so I got to enjoy the food and markets. There were bottled rice wine and whisky with venomous scorpions, snakes and centerpiedes preserved inside for medicine how bazar. I ran into Hanna whilst eating my plateful of Tofu and greens and we headed up to this 100m high rocky landmark and temple in the middle of town. There are lighted shrines set in the stone crags along the way. A bit of Buddhism trivia Buda with long earlobes means wisdom and a rounded belly generosity. The 360 panorama at the top was incredible and I may have to go back there tonight for sunset. What an amazing into to Laos. I’m heading out now for the day to check out the town soo excited it’s a beautiful day outside and beaconing exploration. I’ll upload this Ipod Post and hopefully be able to attach the photos when I find an internet cafe. Talk soon x
It’s 6.45pm Tuesday 13/12/2011 and I have found an internet café to finally upload and update my blog with photos for you from the last days including today. Well at least as many as I can as he closes as 7.30 so we’ll see how quickly they upload. I have heaps of photos currently being uploaded so again it’s a great chance to update you with the day. It was a real treat to lie in this morning and do up my post in bed yay. I had to move rooms so it was a bit of a shuffle of things then headed out to enjoy the town. I found a post office and sent a Laos postcard to Robbie C. Then it was basically exploring the town by bike but spent most of the time stopped taking pickies and generally getting lost in the romance of the place. Truly it’s beautiful away from the tourist traps and even they’re ok. I got lost in the narrow streets and followed my lens butter flying constantly. It felt like a real treat no have-tos or hassles just indulging the scenery and exploring where the day took me. The town is a quandary of temples, narrow lanes, street markets and people everywhere. The National games start today with an opening ceremony so it’s packed with local and international visitors. There’s also a huge fair and celebrations seemingly everywhere you look so there’s plenty of color and activity. The people dry food like rice cakes, seaweed, bananas, orange rind, mushrooms, chilies, all fruits etc out in the street in baskets. The national sport is volleyball but using your feet it’s incredible. I watched a game last night and the girl went for a huge smash, missed and landed in the splits position no problem up shook herself and back into it. It’s the oddest sport but the players have the most amazing skills and athleticism. I didn’t end of going back to the temple for sunset most places charge admission prices here including the temple so we were really fortunate to sneak up there last night and enjoy it without any other tourists and no kip.
I head tomorrow towards Vientiane via Phu Khum, Kasi, Vang Vieng, Phon Hong. It is about 460kms and should take 4-5 days. Apparently it’s an amazing part of the country so I’m really excited look out.