The spring roll thief

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, June 26, 2010

Our journey to Laos had left Andrew a little scarred. Our plane was old school, yes it had propellers, we should have suspected something when there were only 15 people at the departure gate.  We took a bus to the plane and managed to dodge security to take a couple of pictures.  On board the captain did the voice over for the safety demonstrations as the only member of cabin crew showed us where, in the event of an emergency (the Rough Guide had stipulated that you could be considered something of a maverick if you dared to travel with Laos Airlines), we could evacuate the plane, with the help of your pleather seat buoyancy aid.

The flight only took 1 hour, but for Andrew it was an hour too long as he sat white knuckled even while he ate his in flight 'snack' (some kind of hard sandwich, chocolate sponge cake and a brown piece of apple - maybe they could learn something from Ethiopia Airways).  We arrived at an almost deserted Luang Prabang airport in one piece at roughly 7pm and sorted out our visas and got some Kip out of the ATM.  Yet another strange currency to get our heads around.  We got ripped off at the airport taxi stand as we were told that it was 50,000 Kip for a ticket for 2 people and that one car could take a maximum of 3 people.  Another English couple from our flight had suggested we share a taxi in to town so it seemed crazy when we were made to each get in to a different car (with 7 seats) only to follow each other in convoy to our guesthouse.  Note to other travelers, leave the airport grounds (Its about a two minute walk to the main road) and wait for a tuk- tuk, far cheaper.

Anyway we got to Vilay guesthouse, our home for the next few nights, and settled down to a chat and a beer with the owners Vilay and Ben and a semi-permanent Australian guest (with 5 Beer Lao's which were great) before getting an early night (11pm'ish) in preparation for a sight-seeing frenzy tomorrow.

Our intended early start wasn't quite as early as we’d liked but nevertheless we still made time for a bakery stop en route.  Tucking in to our delicious slices of pizza we wandered in to town appreciating all the quaint little shop houses and colonial mansions along the Mekong River.  Luang Prabang sits in a deep valley cut by both the Mekong and Khan Rivers and was a mountain kingdom for more than a thousand years. 

Firstly we explored the Old City and the Wats on Sisavang Vong were stunningly beautiful, it was so calming and serene to walk around them while the monks were milling around in their bright orange robes.  Unlike Vietnam there were only a few cars and bikes and none used their horn so it automatically just started to slow our pace right down. There are so many Wats here that we lost count of how many we visited but the most awe inspiring was Wat Xiang Thong the "Golden City Monastery" as it remains virtually unchanged or unrestored as it wasn't destroyed by the "Chinese Marauders".

Next we visited the former Royal Palace which is now a museum housing the remaining royal paraphernalia which wasn’t looted.  The most impressive part of the building was the Throne room which is decorated with amazingly beautiful multi coloured glass mosaic walls, unfortunately photography was not allowed but it was absolutely stunning.  The museum also contains the most sacred Budda image in all of Laos, the Pha Bang, which is from what Louang Prabang takes its name.   
In the same grounds we also saw a photography exhibition entitled "The floating Budda", lots of black and white stills depicting the towns monks’ history. 

Later (after about 5 hours of walking) we somehow mustered up the energy to climb Phou Si, the hill in the centre of the city, to visit the temple and take in the beautiful views of Luang Prabang.  On the way down we stopped to have a look at "the Buddas footprint" more like a huge claw in concrete and found ourselves wandering, to the beat of the monks drum, through monks living quarters as they washed.  

Feeling all templed out we had a couple of Beer Laos in one of the bars on the main street convincing the bar tender that despite it only being 3pm that he should charge us Happy Hour prices.  We got chatting to a couple of Irish girls who were traveling the opposite way around Laos so could fill us in on the madness that is Vang Vieng.  Having whiled away a fair few hours in the bar we were feeling a little hungry so ventured in to the night market in search of food.  We found a buffet stall which had a huge array of dishes on offer so filled our plates, Andrew managed to hide four spring rolls and 4 eggs (which should have been extra) under his mountains of noodles so felt quite pleased with himself, shame on him when the price for a plateful was only 10,000 kip (about 60p). Andrew Edit - The spring rolls were an extra 2,000 and eggs an extra 1,000 I didn't deceive anyone, no-one asked if I had any extras and it was only afterwards I saw the signs advising that eggs and spring rolls were extra.

Erica edit:  No, he knew alright!

Feeling full we walked down to the river to attempt to walk some of our feast off and got totally disorientated by all the night market stalls that had appeared, or maybe that was the effects of the Beer Laos.  After 'One for the ditch’ , a term that we learned from our Irish chums Rorie and Emer, at a river side restaurant we called it a night and drunkenly navigated our way home. Andrew edit - Erica neglects to mention we actually had 10 beer Lao each (they are about 650ml each and 5%) and we were completely and utterly trollied.
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Gregg on

Badu, loving the pose in the door way in Wat Xiang Muan - reminding me of your 'pout model' pose in the tree in the ply area when you were 10.......vogue!!! ;)

Steve T on

Laos Airlines, now I'm impressed. I always used Bangkok Air, at least they keep statistics on how many pax they killed recently

cheryl on

You can take the boy outta Salford but not the Salford outta the wouldn't catch us Yorkies STEALING ;-)!!!!!! Amazing pics xxxx

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