Enchantment in Luang Prabang
Trip Start May 01, 2010
90Trip End Apr 30, 2011
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Where I stayed
This enchanting place cast a spell on us as soon as we arrived and we decided to extend our planned three day stay by another day. Situated on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Nam Khan and Mekong river, Luang Prabang exudes a magical, heady charm. Dotted amongst shady palms, wooden colonial buildings have been tastefully restored and many now function as guesthouses and restaurants. Glittering wats (Buddhist temples) abound and monks in flame coloured robes walk quietly through the sleepy streets. At night, restaurants are transformed by lanterns and fairy lights into magical gardens and the main street turns into a night market where all sorts of beautiful things can be bought, including silk scarves, ornate opium pipes and paper lanterns containing pressed flowers
On our second day in Luang Prabang we decided to learn a bit about Laotian food so joined a cooking class at the Tamnak restaurant. It was a great day. We started by taking a tour of the market where we saw a variety of unusual vegetables and other delights including Mekong riverweed, which is much nicer than it sounds, congealed blood that looked like raspberry jelly and paa daek, which is fish that has basically rotted down over a long period into a brown liquid that sounds disgusting but is actually a very important and tasty ingredient to many Lao dishes, especially the delicious and very spicy papaya salad that we have been eating a lot of! We cooked a variety of lovely dishes during the day including chicken laap (a famous Laos salad), stir-fried pork and aubergine, sticky rice and an amazing chilli dip called jaewbong.
The following day we awoke early to watch the alms procession of the monks which takes place daily at dawn. The monks walk barefoot and silent through the streets collecting balls of sticky rice in their begging bowls. Unfortunately, the event has become very popular with tourists many of whom are not keeping a respectful distance and instead are standing right next to where the monks pass and pointing their cameras in their faces
The rest of our time in Luang Prabang has been spent wandering the streets and generally soaking up the sultry tropical atmosphere. A wonderful, wonderful town.