Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lovely Luang Prabang, part one - the sights.

Luang Prabang is a gorgeous little UNESCO World Heritage town known for its wats, its handicraft night market, and its national museum.

(it should also be known as the place to take a bus
from Vang Vieng if you want a scenic ride)

During our six days we visited a total of two wats, we bought nothing from the handicraft market, and we skipped the national museum.

Man, we are terrible tourists.

LPB was HOT. So very HOT. We all made a pact the second day that every day would involve a siesta from 11am-4pm, and we pretty much stuck to it the whole week.

When we weren't melting or hiding from Mr. Sun we did manage to have a little fun...

One of our two whopping wats was Wat Xieng Thong, LPB's best-known monastery. The grounds and buildings are beautiful but we were most taken with the mirror-shard mosaics on a few of the chapel halls.

Wat Xieng Thong

mosaics far

mosaics closer

mosaics closest

Wats aside, there is still so much to do here!

Like climbing Phu Si, the sacred hill. On the way up 300-some steps you can see an imprint of Buddha's footprint, gilded day-of-the-week Buddhas (who knew?), and beautiful views of the town.


only open sometimes,
we got lucky
(and we didn't even have to rub his tummy)

Phra Naga Prok

At the very top where That Chomsi stupa sits, you are treated to a really nice view before making your descent.

Luang Prabang o rama


We visited the Pak Ou (Buddha) caves of Tham Ting and Tham Phoum. "Used for centuries as a repository for old and unwanted Buddha images that can no longer be venerated on an altar" (thanks, Rough Guide), the scene is indeed eerie but serene.

Tham Ting

overlooking the mighty Mekong

As the caves are only accessible by boat, this tour included three hours round trip on the aforepictured mighty Mekong. (Saying that never gets old - "the mighty Mekong.") It was a lovely day, the scenery was beautiful, and those three hours inspired us to consider a slow boat for an upcoming leg of our journey.

long slow boats

smooth sailing

rice wine from the "Whisky Village"
(part of the package tour)

Everyone who visits Luang Prabang raves about Kuang Si waterfall about 30km outside of town, so one afternoon we splurged on a nice AC minibus there and back. It rained on the return trip and we had a little laugh at the backpackers crammed into their cheaper, unsheltered tuk-tuks. (But just a little laugh - karma and all.)

pretty falls

gorgeous blue pools

You can swim in the pools but we didn't (conjunctivitis!). We did hike to the top of the falls - no vantage viewpoints that we could find but a good workout nonetheless.

Inside the park there's a sort of strange but well-intentioned bear rescue center. Our actual bear photos didn't turn out so well, but these did:

what does the bear you choose for your picture

say about you as a person?

inquiring minds want to know

We're glad we went and we recommend the falls as a natural beauty attraction, but we might skip the next few "most amazing waterfalls in the world!" They never quite live up to the hype and we just walk away missing Oregon.

One particularly hot day, Patrick and I crossed the seasonally-open rickety old bamboo bridge and wandered slooooooowly through the village where they handmake paper and weavings. We'd never seen paper making. It was cool.

near... far
(can you see him?)

sundried for your writing pleasure

One day Jen visited the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center and watched a video of a buffalo sacrifice. Actually, the museum was really well done and had many other interesting displays about the three main Lao cultures - this video was just the most memorable. (And not in a bad way, just in an interesting way.)

And then Jen volunteered a bit at Big Brother Mouse, which we'll talk more about later.

So yeah, we did get out a bit... Stay tuned for part two featuring LPB's many markets and all the delicious food we enjoyed during our stay!

1 comment:

  1. sacrificing buffalo is a good way to contract conjunctivitis