Trip Start Dec 29, 2007
33Trip End Mar 10, 2008
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Socially, Laos is very conservative and nothing like Thailand, though these are some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet
Luang Prabang has become one of the world's top tourist destinations in the past few years. There are plenty of places and activities that cater to both upscale travelers as well as the backpacking set. The food here is amazing, from traditional Laos food like laap- a spicy beef salad with lots of garlic and herbs - to fine French dining. The cost of living is much higher than in Thailand, but still cheap by Western standards. There's lots of shopping, though bargains are harder to come by, with a focus on the silk and silver trades.
I've spent a lot of time walking around the city center, a peninsula framed by the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, visiting Buddhist wats and reading in coffee shops. I've also done several trekking trips, including a slow boat up the Mekong River to see Pak Ou, a cave with thousands of Buddha images; and a full-day hiking trip in which we stopped in Hmong and Khamu villages, visited a tribal school, and plodded through the jungle to see Kuang Xi Falls. Once again, I've met some great people here- Christina from Maine, who I met on the way here, and who's on her way to India for six weeks; Frank, a jewelry designer from Dusseldorf, who splits his time between Germany and Bali; Alessandra, an Italian currently living in San Francisco; and my old friends, Pascale and Astrid from Switzerland, who just arrived this morning
I'll be here for a few more days before flying back to Chiang Mai, my last trip there before heading to Bangkok, Cambodia, and the beaches of Southern Thailand. I wish I had more time to spend in Laos, but apparently even a ten-week holiday isn't long enough to do everything I want to do.
As an aside, you may recall in an earlier blog entry on the challenges of meditation, I referred to a "Spin the Bottle" game behind Bryant Woods Elementary School in which Lisa Hepburn wouldn't kiss me but had no problems locking lips with Blake Sibley. When I checked my email yesterday, I discovered an email from...Blake Sibley, who I hadn't spoken to in about 30 years!! Turns out that he Googled his name, found my travel blog, and decided to email me, which I think is proof that Google is the greatest invention in the history of mankind. :)
OK, time to grab some lunch and look at some trekking options for tomorrow. I hope all is well back home. Take care and keep in touch!