Tags

, , , ,

Gardens at Thongbay Guesthouse, where I stayed in Luang Prabang.

Gardens at Thongbay Guesthouse, where I stayed in Luang Prabang.

As usual, I am a bit late in posting about my adventures in South East Asia. Currently, I am in Vietnam and on November 1st, I will be in Jakarta, Indonesia. However, prior to visiting Vietnam, I spent a week (late September, 2014) in Luang Prabang, Laos. Why did I go there? The primary reason was to chill out, as quite a few freinds – whom already had visited Luang Prabang – told me I would really enjoy the small town atmosphere, as well as the outdoor activities, which this area has in abundance. Quite a change from Phnom Penh, where I had been.

Waiting in the Phnom Penh airport to board my plane to Luang Prabang, Laos. All my gear for the next few months is in the opposite chair. Yes, I travel light.

Waiting in the Phnom Penh airport to board my plane to Luang Prabang, Laos. All my gear for the next few months is in the opposite chair. Yes, I travel light.

image

I still like looking out the window. 🙂

Notice anything unusual on this Cambodian Airlines jet? No, the seats aren't occupied by midgets. The aircraft sits approximately 80 people and I was 1 of 5 passengers aboard. I had plenty of leg room. LOL.

Notice anything unusual on this Cambodian Airlines jet? No, all the seats aren’t occupied by midgets and children. The aircraft normally sits approximately 80 people and I was 1 of 5 passengers aboard. I had plenty of leg room. LOL.

Luang Prabang, or Louangphrabang, is a city located in north central Laos, at the confluence of the Nam Khan river and Mekong River about 300 km north of Vientiane. It is the capital of Luang Prabang Province. I stayed in a bungalow at the Thongbay Guesthouse, where most of the bungalows have river or garden views. Mine had a gorgeous river view. Quite frankly, the Thongbay Guesthouse was an amazing place. However, it did not have air conditioning and initially, I had a bit of apprehension about that. No problem at all as it turned out. The nights were quite cool and with the windows open (screens kept out mosquitoes), coupled with the excellent ceiling and floor fans – I was quite comfortable and slept well. It was quite an experience listening to the sounds of the jungle at dusk and during the evening as I sat on my bungalow deck.

Upon landing, it's obvious that much of the land is undeveloped (a good thing) .

Approaching our landing, it’s obvious that much of the land is undeveloped (a good thing) .

When I researched Luang Prabang, I found out that the town has both natural and historical sites. Among the natural (tourism) sites are the the Kuang Si waterfalls, which I visited with new friends, Dennis and Jennifer, from Hong Kong. I am going to have a separate post on that day. Other natural sites at or near Luang Prabang are the Tat Sae waterfalls and Pak Ou caves. Phou si, which is in the middle of the town, has gorgeous views of the river and town. It is a popular place to relax and watch the sun setting on the Mekong river.

Watching the world pass by during dinner at a restaurant in Luang Prabang.

Watching the world pass by during dinner at a restaurant in Luang Prabang.

image

“Night Market” stalls. I found the art crafts very well made and if I was not traveling lightly, I would have definitely purchased a souvenir(s) to take back home.

image

Street vendor selling delicious traditional Lao food.

One of my favorite places was the “night market,” it is at the end of the main street of Luang Prabang. Here you will find rows upon rows of stalls, selling attractive embroidery, fine woven rugs, scarfs, shirts, bracelets and other art craft and souvenirs. Along this same street is where I usually had dinner, as it is dotted with numerous restaurants. If you get a chance, also stop inside the town library. The library is staffed by many foreign volunteers. In fact, if you are of a mind to do so, a donation to maintain the library is very much appreciated. This resource provides books and education not only to the town citizens, but also to many villagers along the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers.

One of 3 photos I took of an amazing cloud formation.

One of two photos I took of an amazing cloud formation.

image

Breathtaking! Love the river in the foreground too. I spent about an hour here relaxing.

 

The Haw Kham Royal Palace Museum and the Wat Xieng Thong Temple are among the most well known historical sites. A “wat” is a Buddhist or Tao monastery temple in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos. It is Sanskrit for “enclosure.”  The town has many smaller wats such as Wat Hosian Voravihane. Each morning at sunrise, monks leave their wats and walk in a procession through town accepting alms from the locals and tourists.

 

Rowing team practicing their skills on the river. They would sing in unison to motivate themselves to row faster and in rhythm.

Rowing team practicing their skills on the river. They would sing in unison to motivate themselves to row faster and in rhythm.

image

The following images are of the river and particularly of a rowing team practicing their skils. The young men would "sing" motivational Lao songs to keep their rowing in rhythm.

The other noteworthy activity I did was taking a boat ride down the Mekong river. Unfortunately, I left my camera (smart phone) at my bungalow and do not have photos of this experience. I was able to visit a village, Ban Chan, which is renowned for pottery making.

My breakfast each morning at the guesthouse. It was served on my bungalow veranda at precisely at 7am. LOL. By the by, the Lao french bread is one of the BEST I have ever tasted. Delicious!

My breakfast each morning at the guesthouse. It was served on my bungalow veranda at precisely 7am. LOL. By the by, the Lao french bread is one of the BEST breads I have ever tasted. Delicious!

image

This is a traditional Lao dinner. The sticky rice is put in a leafy vegetable (by hand) and the other ingredients (fish, beef, or chicken, along with other veggies) are also placed in this spring like roll. You dip the roll in a type of spicy fish sauce. Unbelievably mouth watering. Yummy!

Other then dinner and strolling along the stalls of the night market, you aren’t going to find a lot of “action” in Luang Prabang. Night clubs, bars, and Karaoke isn’t what Luang Prabang is about. I found my most pleasant evenings spent on my bungalow veranda, sedately listening to the melodic jungle sounds of wildlife and insects. Similarly, morning found me having a delicious breakfast on my veranda, watching the various watercraft slowly pass by on the Nam Khan river. Anyone who wants to get away from it all, could do a lot worse then spending a few days or more in Luang Prabang. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this charming area and town.

Thongbay Guesthouse gardens.

Thongbay Guesthouse gardens.

Stopped at this cafe where they served an excellent latte.

Stopped at this cafe where they served an excellent latte.

A respite from the heat and time to relax and watch the world stroll by.

A respite from the heat and time to relax and watch the world stroll by.

More of the same . . . umm, relaxing. Ha.

More of the same . . . umm, relaxing. Ha.

The next series of photos are of my bungalow. Although it didn't have air conditioning, I was very comfortable here. I think the cost was under $35 (I stay at so many places, I easily forget). In any event, the grounds, views and accomodations were wonderful and I would stay here again in a heart beat. Most important, the hotel staff treated me like family.

The next series of photos are of my bungalow. Although it didn’t have air conditioning, I was very comfortable here. I think the cost was under $35 (I stay at so many places, I easily forget). In any event, the grounds, views and accomodations were wonderful and I would stay here again in a heart beat. Most important, the hotel staff treated me like family.

image image image image image

My peace and serenity at Thongbay Guesthouse was only disturbed once by this "alien" from another planet. OK, ok, it's a harmless Preying Mantis, albeit, I did not find this out until later. However, it was 7 inches long and it scared the shit out of me. Moreover, it was heading directly up the wall of my bungalow, toward my door. Fortunately, I flagged down a hotel worker (who knew it was harmless) and he flicked it away.

My peace and serenity at Thongbay Guesthouse was only disturbed once by this “alien” from another planet. OK, ok, it’s a harmless Preying Mantis, albeit, I did not find this out until later. However, it was 7 inches long and it scared the shit out of me. Moreover, it was heading directly up the wall of my bungalow, toward my door. Fortunately, I flagged down a hotel worker (who knew it was harmless) and he flicked it away.

image image

Advertisements