Paradise found ? Yeah. And no.
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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How can i put this... Luang Prabang is as laid back as it gets, really. Very little traffic, silent and slow motorbikes, many pedestrians, lovely streets, clean, beautiful houses, calm, birds, sunshine, smiles. Wow. The old part of town, protected by UNESCO is tiny but all in all, there are around 100,000 people here, and it's the fourth largest town of Laos. So when you are suddenly being told that LP is the former capital city of Lao... it's quite a shock. LP is what I would call a tiny touristic village, a bit like Hoi An, with much much much less agitation and aggression from vendors. However, don't be fooled : this is NOT authentic Laos, clearly not. It is now a UNESCO world heritage town so development cannot be erratic like in some other places and it's a good thing. But again, this is, in my opinion, the place that looks exactly like what tourists would like such a town to look like. A bit like Vietnam's Hoi An or Brazil's Porto Seguro.
This doesn't mean I don't like it. I do. It's pleasant for the eye, it's comfortable, you have great bars, restaurants, bakeries, tour operators, blah blah blah. So yeah. It's a great place to chill after a tough trip trekking for several days or back from a very busy town like Hanoi... But don't try and make me believe like this is Laos :-)
I decided to stop in a bar in order to get online and try and find a place to stay. I ended up actually strolling along the Mekong, visiting a couple of guest houses and settling for a really cheap one, with a big fan in the room, no air cond, no TV, just the basic stuff, but clean and costing me 60,000 Kip, i.e. slightly more than 5 euros. After making some phone calls and writing some emails to the contacts I was given here, I went for a nap at around 4pm and slept until... 8am the next day ! Yeah, it looks like Vietnam tired me quite a bit :-)