Hard To Pronounce, Easy To Like
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Oct 06, 2013
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We prevailed using the light from DH`s burning eyes to keep us on track- we even ran into Annie and Terry, the Aussie couple from the boat who were wandering aimlessly looking for a hotel that would accept Australians. With the two of them firmly in tow, we found a little piece of hotel heaven- it had only been open a month and was a bit of a throwback to the luxury digs we had gotten used to in Maui. As we settled into our room DH was returned to a place of happiness once her beloved iPad was brought back to Internet life- every time the email chime goes off DH gets that excited look in her eye that I used to get back in our early dating days.
Breakfast the next morning introduced us to a human whirlwind and fellow Canadian named Evelyn. She had been lured to LP from Korea by the hotel owner to help run the hotel and she made a point of table hopping and checking on everyones well being. She gave us directions to the nearby bamboo walking bridge (a bridge that gets washed away every year and has to be rebuilt) that connected our side of the river with LP proper. So what do you do in Luang Prabang? Temple touring is high on the list along with various episodes of name that fruit/veg/meat in the local markets. The Laos National Sporting Games were on while we were there (the ever-present mascot was a rooster...really, a rooster- could you find a more annoying creature?) so we got our sporting fix including a game called Ka-Taw which is apparently very popular in SE Asia. The game is similar to volleyball except that players use their feet and a rattan ball- the women were twisting themselves into kick positions that would have me in traction for weeks. Good fun and the crowd was really rooting for the homeside.
As we got more familiar with the layout of LP we had to secure some wheels, and through good fortune the hotel happened to have a stable of racing cycles...well maybe it would be a stretch to call a bike with a big basket on the front and a ringy-ding bell a racer (until the pedal fell off, my bike even came equipped with a child carrier), but I had to pretend I was a Tour de LP participant in order to maintain some degree of masculine pride
DH's take on LP: Luang Prabang is so welcoming and the people so endearing. It's a chill spot here and the town itself is almost enchanting especially at night with all the tiny lights in trees and store fronts. There are no billboard type signs or blaring music. Just a serenity, both during the day and in the evening that has made this my favorite place so far. Walking down the main road through town, you find many guest houses, coffee cafes, crepe shops, authentic restaurants galore, wood oven pizzerias, massage spas, eco tour outlets and so on. They have tuk tuks, bikes, scooters and some cars but the traffic is minimal- either the vehicle horns have been surgically removed or the people here are just not predisposed to horn-blasting their fellow humans. Everyone does seem to prefer to walk or ride a bike and although we are surrounded by hills and the river, the town and surrounding area is surprisingly flat.
Amidst all of of this, are the many monks, wrapped up in saffron colored cloth robes. You see them everywhere, usually in groups of three or four and hurrying through town under an umbrella to guard against the sun. They depend on alms from the town for their daily food
About 5:40am, sure enough, we could see figures moving up the road like a long orange snake winding its way to us and getting closer. I was very excited and started balling my rice into little offerings hoping I had enough. As they approached, it was surreal, there were about 17 monks in the first group and at least 25 in the second. They had lids on these containers but for the most part they held them open and you just dropped a ball of sticky rice or a banana. Vic ran out and started in on my stash but we made it, right up to the very last somewhat hungry looking monk. Just after they passed us they stopped, and began chanting. There is nothing more magical than a large group of monks giving you a two minute blessing at 5:45 am in the dark while you are sitting on a bamboo mat on the side of the road. I really like Luang Prabang.