From David Byrne back to Laos - T and I flew from Bangkok to Luang Prabang and it is one of the most incredible descents I have ever experienced. We descended over the Mekong amongst the greenest mountains into the tiny city of Luang Prabang in northern Laos. A sign proudly proclaimed the city a Unesco World Heritage site as we walked into the terminal.
After providing our passport, visa fee and application form in one queue, we then queued up for immigration where our passports were handed back with the visa affixed and stamped. Getting your passport back seemed to depend on the order of the line remaining the same, but it was very quick and efficient and we were then able to head out to the outdoor waiting area and organise a tuk tuk to our guesthouse. We stayed at Senesouk guesthouse, which I would highly recommend. Our room was upstairs in the traditional Teak house out back:
Luang Prabang is a very small city, but it is one of the most wonderfully friendly and beautiful places I have ever visited. Highlights of our time in there were:
Watching monks receive their morning Alms
I had not been on a bike since I was 14 years old, so was a little nervous and wobbly when we started out but after a block I was racing T and careering down hills. It was such a lovely way to explore a city, so I am going to endeavour to rent a bike to explore places on future travels.
There is a craft market every night in Luang Prabang from about 5 - 11 pm. T and I would head down to the two vegetarian and vegan food stalls and get a big bowl of Laos food for about AU$1. It was fun to eat at the table set up behind the stall and watch all the action around us - a young woman selling gorgeous looking cakes, families zooming past on motorbikes and and huge fruit and vegetable stalls. For dessert we shared some banana and coconut type donuts.
We bought lots of little gifts for people, although my favourite thing that we bought was a handmade doona cover and two matching pillow slips. It was the only one I saw that was a vibrant turquoise. I haven't gotten around to taking a photo of it yet, but I will post one when I do.
T had a little trouble with all the low hanging poles holding up the shelters, as due to his height he kept banging his head on them. At one point, he managed to plunge one stall into complete darkness as he tripped over the plug linking them to a power supply. It was all sorted out in a matter of seconds with laughter all round, but T said he felt like Godzilla.
Visiting Tat Kuang Si Waterfall & Moon Bear Rescue Centre
We took the hour long trip out to Tat Kuang Si to see the beautiful clear turquoise waters of the waterfall. T even managed a dip in one of the more secluded pools lower down. At least it was secluded until a tour group came through, which meant he had to stay in the freezing water for a little longer than he would have liked.
There is also a Moon Bear rescue centre at the waterfall. These bears have been rescued as cubs when their mothers had been killed by poachers. T and I already sponsor a Moon Bear named Somerset through Animals Asia, so we were both excited to meet some Moon Bears in person. We watched them forage for food, snooze in their hanging baskets and play together for ages. They all seemed to be happy and well cared for.
Given the plethora of places offering massages for such a small amount of kip, we continued our streak of daily massages in Luang Prabang. I particularly enjoyed a foot massage we got reclining side by side in a fan-cooled sheltered outdoor alcove. The women who provided the massage giggled and talked (seemingly about us) a lot. I think they were amused by T's height and the size of his feet. His masseuse looked quite incredulous when he took his shoes off.
And then it was on to Vientiane.......