Brisbane2Bristol

On our great adventure

Luang Phrabang…..

Archive for the …10/3/2013

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As we ride into Luang Prabang, it looks like nothing has changed…
Its like a town that stood still in time…
Beautiful wooden houses,

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Wats…..

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With Golden temples greeting you as you head into the UNESCO World Heritage City, this city was once the capitol of Laos!

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If you want to find out a bit more on Luang Phrabang then is a good site…. http://wikitravel.org/en/UNESCO_World_Heritage_List

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Better still go for a visit!

It doesn’t take long to find a vacant Guest House- Xieng Hongkham- a traditional Lao wooden house with wooden shutters covering the windows, this place oozed charm…
It only has seven guest rooms, so that suited us…
Nice and quiet…
There was no car park as such…so we got to park the bike in the small court yard at the front of the Guest House…
We booked in for a week…
A week of just lounging about and strolling around, exploring the old city….

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Lak the guy that runs the Guest house is very easy going and helpful, we had a few long conversations about the Laotian way of live…. when he wasn’t playing solitaire on the computer…lol

Lak later told us that the Guest House was up for sale, a snip at $400,00…
Every day we would have a conversation how we could make this work if we bought it……if only?

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We always planned that we weren’t going to do much here in Luang Phrabang…except relax and eat (we’ve done a lot of that on this trip!) but there again we have done a fair bit of walking to counterbalance all the food we have had…lol

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Our room had dark wooden floors, part stone, part painted walls with a large 4 poster bed and amazing wooden pitched ceiling, a huge plasma TV, the whole room was kitted out with all the bells and whistles that travellers like us needed…and all for the princely sum of just $30 P/N.

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This resting Buddha was just outside our bedroom….

In the evening we meet up with our friends Jacques and Mandy, who we knew they were massive Indian curry lovers, and we knew just the place ‘Nazim’s’ we have been here a few times in the past…
WOW…that was a great meal.

As we walked ‘home’ we passed a couple Temples and Wats… young monks were sitting around laughing and joking and some talking on their mobiles….maybe to their mums?…

The next morning, we woke and checked to see what time it was…OMG..its 9am we never sleep in this late…
we must completely relaxed to sleep in so long… it was the smell of fresh coffee that woke us up!

Hmmm, what goes with fresh coffee? i decide to take a stroll to the French bakery to see what’s on offer…
Fresh croissants with chocolate and almond filling…
yep that’ll go nicely……
we sit outside on the beautiful veranda of the guest house overlooking the quaint little garden and have our ‘continental’ breakfast.
The morning stroll to the bakery was part of my daily ritual up to the day we left……

After a quiet morning, we decided to go for a walk along the Nam Khan River, even though the river is very low it still seems to flow pretty fast, the locals take full advantage of the low river level to grow all sorts of fruit and vegetables on the low riverbanks.

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Home made ice lollies….

While Sitting on the wall near ‘Monks Corner’ (that’s what we call it) we spied Mandy and Jacques,

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after a quick hello we all head to a river bar for a drink, while sitting and talking about what we had all done during the day we could hear drumming in the distance,it was a rhythmic sound, that almost hypnotises you, and you cant help but get lured in to the sound, we just have to find where its coming from, like following the pied piper…we were off.

We came to a ‘Wat’ where the young monks seemed to be taking it in turns to have a ‘bash’…
the hut that was housing the drum was high off the ground and had a walled steps in front so it was hard to get a look…
We had to get on tip toes to get a photo…

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That evening after our meal we said our farewells to Mandy and Jacques, who were heading off to continue the rest of their ‘world’ journey ‘Seeyouwhenwegetthere’ there riding pushbikes!!
They must be mad…lol See you in Europe guys….:)

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The next day we rode the 25 k’s to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, the journey to the falls takes you through beautiful farming villages, the roads are goods, although you do have to cross a few wooden bridges! The falls are also home to a Bear Rescue Centre, for the endangered Asiatic Black Bears which been rescued from poachers.

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Sadly, idiots in China use bile from bears’ liver for medicinal purposes, which create demand for these poor animals to be shot, the BRC has saved lots of cubs from the wild, who otherwise would have little or no chance of survival, after their mothers had been poached.
I have read that Bear bile does nothing! So PLEASE STOP this horrific treatment of such beautiful creatures…rant over…

After cooing over the bears, we walked very carefully to the falls…why so careful?
well the pathways are very smoothed mud paths and as they are wet for most of the day..its like walking on ice!
Well all thoughts of going for a quiet swim were soon dashed when we saw the amount of people there…

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And it wasn’t tourists, it was locals all out for a family picnic…celebrating ‘International Woman’s Day’…

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wow…
we don’t even get a day off for that in Australia, it was great to witness, despite the ‘falls’ being over crowded we still had a great day.

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Mandy and Jacques had told us about a street restaurant just off the night (5-10pm) tourist market which was a Laos style buffet, you just pile as much food as you want on your plate’ for $1…

OK then with not really knowing what to expect we thought we’d give it ago…
We grabbed our plates and started to pile up the most delicious vegetables, rice and pasta, it was then ‘woked’… now to find a spot on the long benches and tables, sit down and enjoy your meal with a complete stranger, what a great way to meet people….

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yum…was one of the best meals of the trip…so far… we are both creatures of habit, and had this for dinner for the rest of our time in Luang Phrabang!

The night markets have some very unusual but beautiful pieces….

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Hand made paper drying…

The next few days were spent visiting a few temples that we had missed on previous trips and revisiting some old favourites.

Clive decided to walk up the many steps to the Wat that dominates the city…Mount Phousi, after having a rest, he came across these…

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When reaching the top…panting… he was rewarded with this…

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a stunning view of the Mekong and surrounding areas….

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On the other side of the Nam Song River we knew there were a few Wats to check out, so via the old communist bridge we set off…
only motorcycles and pushbikes are allowed to use this bridge, the entrance and exit of the bridge are just the wide enough for your handlebars! we just scrapped through!…..

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The Wat’s over this side of the Mekong for whatever reason tourists seem to bypass! it was very quite except for a few local kids who were up a tree picking some sort of fruit and they kindly gave us some, they weren’t that bad either…we had to break open the ‘nut’ casing to find a hard pip covered in a very sticky sweet jam type of fruit…thanks kids

Up early the next morning, to beat the heat we took the vehicle ferry across to the other side of the Mekong and walked along a fairly new path way that leads to very shady and quiet track, to a few Wats that rarely get visited….

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Kids making mud pies….

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Monks laundry day….

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Some spicy sausages drying in the sun….

One temple was a cave which had a few Buddha statues inside, we were shown around by our ‘guides’…three very young girls…probably no older than nine! thankfully they had torches..

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Below are some of the Temples and Wats that we visited and a little bit of information about them:

Mount Phousi is in center of the town, with 320 plus steps to climb take a bottle of water and don’t climb it in the middle of the day!
The hill offers a great view of the town and surrounding scenes, especially during sunrise or sunset.
Its open daily and costs 20,000 kip to enter.

Haw Pha Bang, is not old, and in fact it was only completed in 2006, located in the grounds of the Royal Palace Museum, it was built to house possibly the most important historical object in Laos, the Pha Bang (Pra Bang).The Pha Bang is a standing bronze Buddha statue that is covered in gold leaf, and is believed to be ancient. It came to Laos in the 14th century where it was kept in the capital city, Luang Prabang, takes it’s name from the statue.

Wat Aham (Temple of the Opened Heart) is a temple that most tourists tend to bypass, it was constructed around 1820, 
The main attraction here at this temple are the murals on the walls and ceiling within the sim illustrates various stages of hell and torment.

Wat Tham Xieng Maen Founded in 1889 and since abandoned, it is a 100m-deep limestone cave. Many Buddha images from temples that have been torched or otherwise fallen into decay are kept here. The mouth of the cave has iron gates across it and are usually locked, if enquire at Wat Long Khun someone will come and unlock the gate and guide you through the cave. The cave is dark and the cave floor is slippery, you will also need a good torch.

Wat Long Khoun sits high on the banks of the Mekong, the Buddhist temple is set in beautiful peaceful gardens with Monks relaxing in the gardens, and they even talk to you!!! Wat Long Khoun has long and historically important connections to the Luang Prabang royal family, its also known as the ‘Monastery of the Happy’. It Costs $1 entrance fee

Wat Chom Phet Temple, the Thai army built this temple in 1888, you will need to climb the 100 steep steps or so before reaching it! Also known as Wat Visoun, this wat is named after King Wisunarat, the king whose reign it was constructed during, though the structure standing today is a replica of the one built in 1513.

Records suggest that the original was quite spectacular, with some 4,000 trees needed to complete its construction. The dozen pillars that supported the interior were each 100 feet tall and the building’s exterior was made entirely of wood. 



Wat Mahathat (Wat That)…built 16th century, 20 century onward
is the “Monastery of the Stupa” and is one of the more attractive of Luang Prabang’s wats. It was founded by King Say Setthathirath (ruling from Chiang Mai) in 1548; the king also erected the imposing Lan Na style ‘that’, or stupa, that graces the ground in back of the sim.

Wat Ho Xiang (built c. 1705 onward) or Wat Ho Siang (Sieng, Sian, Xiang, Xieng) Voravihane, the Lottery Pavilion, adjoins Wat That on a small hill to the southwest of Mount Phousi. There have been numerous renovations and reconstructions over the years. The first recorded major reconstruction was in 1823/4. The wat was destroyed by a storm in April 1900 and rebuilt.

Our thoughts on one of our most favorite places we have visited:

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This charming town Luang Prabang, with its French Indochinese architecture, temples and Wats all have a magical atmosphere it is one of our favorite places in the world.

We loved ‘chasing’ the saffron-robed monks around trying to capture that perfect photo!

We love the relaxed slow pace feel that Luang Phrabang has…do as much or as little as you like, there’s plenty to do here…

With an amazing range of riverside restaurants and cafes to eat from, you will never go hungry, even fusspots are catered for!

The locals are some of the friendliest people we have met.

In 2008 the New York Times put Laos at the top of their list of “Places to Go”

We believe anyone who comes to this wonderful place WILL fall in love with it!

We hope Luang Phrabang doesn’t loose it charm due to tourism, it would be such a shame, and just to make sure it doesn’t, we will have to come back ☺

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One thought on “Luang Phrabang…..

  1. Steve & Kate Call on said:

    Enjoy,wish i could do the same.have fun. steve c

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