A real life Shangri La

Trip Start Nov 29, 2008
Trip End Jan 18, 2009

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Where I stayed
Maniphone Hotel

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, January 11, 2009

Well, that seems to be the common perception when you mention the name of this city. In reality, it's just like any other medium-small city in SE Asia, although it's certainly quite charming.

The first morning after arrival, most of us awoke bright and early to catch a tuk-tuk to watch the famous procession of monks along the main drag. Unfortunately, our tour guide got us there before six, and the monks didn't come until an hour later! Over an hour waiting in the blistering Luang Prabang cold was not my idea of a good time. But we finally did get to see the monks. It's certainly something you have to do if you visit the city, but it's nothing too special. Just a bunch of guys in orange robes getting rice from tourists.

After returning for breakfast and a warm shower, I headed out to see the city. I began by climbing Phou Si, the large hill in the center of town. It has several shrines and pagodas on it, as well as a stone formation alleged to be the Buddha's footprint (yeah right). Then it was time for the royal museum, which is small but really quite remarkable. Some beautiful artifacts from Buddhist and Laotian history make for a great visit, but cameras were not allowed so I have nothing but memories to post here. I spent the next few hours visiting several wats in town, including the famous Wat Xieng Tuong, the oldest in the city, located right on the Mekong river. I returned to the hotel for an afternoon nap before venturing out again for a traditional Lao dancing performance at the royal theater (next to the museum) at 6.

The next day, three of us went to the Kuang Si waterfalls and bear sanctuary by tuk-tuk. The pools are stunning, but too cold to swim in this time of the year. That night I did some shopping in the night market, picking up some nice souvenirs for myself and family.
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