Robbed in Luang Prabang

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, February 17, 2007

Well it was bound to happen after nearly 5 months of travel. Last night, during the night while I was sleeping, a thief (thieves) entered my Guesthouse room through patio doors which I KNEW were flimsy and stole 2 of my small backpacks and a fanny pack, leaving one of the backpacks in the alley, along with 2 of my 3 CDs of pictures.  Stolen was about $120 (in baht and kip) and my CAMERA, 2 memory chips plus the book I considered a bible that Camilla gave me and I recorded places I've liked, people I've met, emails, phone  nos. and etc., the nice flat stone Carla gave me plus  Buddhist meditation beads.  So glad I couldn't get money out yesterday due to no ATMs here, and VISA line was busy otherwise I could have had more gone. And I keep my VISA card, passport, ticket etc. in a quasi locked part of my big backpack.  I found the stuff missing at 6 this a.m. when I got up to get ready to go on a trip to a waterfall, joined by people I met from South Africa and Comox BC in a big bus.  But of course my morning was spent talking to the building owner, the managger, the night person, the police etc. (who are pretty much ineffectual, poorly paid etc.) and to top it all off it is a holiday here so not all police are working.  A container was thrown in the back alley along with empty backpack and I was excited thinking they could get fingerprints!  HA!  Not evolved to that extent yet.  Sort of got a blank stare at that suggestion.  Then the owner said I would have to pay for my room etc. in spite of having no money, he was quick to get that in.  They DROVE me to the nearest bank, it was closed due to Laos New Year holiday so very noisy with parties, festival, then to another bank where I could get a cash advance. Meanwhile they moved me to an upstairs room.  All this and I am waiting to meet up with Brian and Carolyn - theywere to  arrive in Bangkok yesterday.  Think we'll to to Vietnam and now I am hearing horror stories about how they rip tourists off! Especially north Vietnam. 
Anyway to make a long story even longer, I have been in Vientiane then Vang Vieng which is a backpackers nirvana but not for me but where I did go caving, tubing and hiking to villages  Then a long 6 hour in a non airconditioned 'VIP' bus to Luang Prabang and I was very happy as it seems to have way more cultural stuff to do, natural beauty etc. although VV was in a valley and had natural beauty, it was blighted by scores of backpackers' services including outdoor places to watch videos of 'Friends' , Family Guy, etc whereby people recline on futons and pillows while drinking beer. Actually the first night arrived I did just that... and it was very pleasurable. But I was wakened at 6:30 a.m. by a radio blasting away through loudspeakers and I thought it was construction workers but it was a speaker in a tree and another one was on a microwave tower, apparently to wake the town up and just strated a few days ago. Well I thought enough of this and I walked around and found another place that was by the river for the 2nd and last night there. I couldnt' get out of there fast enough, just couldn't get into the groove there or feel at home, ins pite of meeting up with a couple from Sweden who I had met at the Laos border as we both had to pay overdue Visa fines and we met for dinner on Valentine's Day. Turns out they are from the same community (around Ostersund, Skarvangen) as my Swedish relatives, so am checking if they know of them! And I met a couple from South africa and met them at dinner my first night here and ran into them again last night and we have such good conversations - last night was a spectacualr sunset (pic stoeln now) on the Mekong at a little outdoor restaurant. It was a million dollar view for sure.
Good thing is it is cheap to live here, especially food. I had a Laos soup for lunch, a big bowl, and a coconut shake (ice blended with coconut) and it came to $1.50.  Lst night we had local food, fish with cashews, sticky rice and a vegetable platter plus a few beer, ahem and for 3 it came to $4 each.  My guesthouse at Shayada is $18 US a night, sort of in between the backpackers' digs and really nice places.
Today I visited a couple of temples and was chatted up by young novice monks trying to better their English but they are teenagers and sure not above flirting! with the likes of me.... Here I thought they couldn't even speak to a woman unless on the sly and here one of them gave me his email address and wants me to write to him, and drop by and see him tomorrow and he is 16!  He tried to help me speak Laos and I helped him pronounce 'ethnic' - they are not used to putting their tongues between their teeth but he eventually did it.  Then he asked me if i had a daughter he could maybe get to know - and all this but he says he wants to be a monk!
anyway am waiting for Ron and Delise, from Comox (Roz and Bob I will ask them if they know you!)  to return from the trip I was to be on.  They graciously lent me some money that I could mail back to them as they are leaving for Vietnam tomorrow but I didn't need it since Visa (interest c harged from Day one, 3% service fee charged by the BCEL bank here, what a scam).  Got 2,400,000 kip which is $250 US.  It is an inch thick.  It is hot here, but cools down at night, especially with a beer in one's hand.  The restaurant closest to Guesthouse shows nightly movies at 6 on a TV and tonight it is "The QUeen' so may watch that.  I had a massage this afternoon from the Red Cross, which funds projects. It cost $3.20 for an hour, the first I've had here. It was very nice and I thought I deserved one after the day I've had.
better send off now
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