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Day 7: Luang Prabang

The Long Bus Trip

After a long bus ride, I finally arrived in Luang Prabang.

I was advised to be at the pick-up area in Vang Vieng at 9:45 for the 10am VIP bus to Luang Prabang. About 35 minutes later, a bus did turn up and we boarded this bus (thank goodness not a mini-van), which we all thought was going to Luang Prabang. About 30 minutes later, it dropped us off at the bus terminal to board the real bus. There were others already waiting to depart and wondered why the 10am bus had still not departed. It was 11am before we took off on the long road to Luang Prabang – but hey, it is the Lao PDR – where PDR seems to mean Please Don’t Rush!

It was a lovely scenic ride out of Vang Vieng area, traveling along-side the karst peaks, then up into the mountains that show a different view of this dramatic landscape. With the low hanging clouds and with some of the peaks disappearing into them, it was reminiscent of Chinese water colour paintings. The road was windy (as in many curves, not as in strong gusts of air) and a few passengers suffered from it. It did not bother me, I think the bus ride up the Chiapas in Mexico or to Colca Canyon in Peru was far worse!

More interestingly was watching the countryside. It went a little something like this:

Wedding; many large bags of cucumber for sale along the road (‘tis the season for weddings and cucumbers!); remnants of a wedding; medium plots of lettuce and other green vegetable like products; wedding; batches of cut grass drying (for broom making); more plots of vegetables; rice paddies; cows; more batches of grass drying; wedding; pigs;

(then as we ascend into mountains)

Satellite dishes (attached to nearly every bamboo house); cow; dogs; pigs; more batches of grass drying; picturesque view of the peaks; satellite dishes; and so on and so forth – I think you get the idea!

7 hours later and well after the sun had set, we were all glad to have arrived at Luang Prabang Naluang bus station. Mount Phou Si was lit up and it was a beautiful welcoming sight. Time to explore the town!

Ola, my guide in Vang Vieng, had told me that the night market in Luang Prabang had so many beautiful handicrafts that it would be difficult not to buy anything. He was right! At first I saw cushion covers, elephant slippers (slippers with elephants on them not slippers for elephants), the famous Lao coffee, tea, tissue box holders, lantern covers – the vendors were not particularly pushy and they seemed like genuinely nice people it was hard not to buy just 1, tiny, little thing. Ok, so I bought about 7 things from different vendors. But you could actually see each one there making the products they were selling. One even said her children embroidered the hanging decoration. I’m not sure whether that is counted as child labour, or whether my purchase was freeing them from the work or keeping them employed!

Luang Prabang is a peaceful town. So I peacefully glided around the markets and toward the Mekong in search of food. I found a riverside restaurant that seemed to have a table of locals already feasting on food. I ordered what I thought was something special & local – the Stew of Luang Prabang! It sounded impressive. It was a salty broth with an interesting mix of pieces of chicken breast, dill, mint, whole chillis, pumpkin, beans, peas, onions, spring onions/eschallots, black dried fungus (mushrooms) and some other green stuff I couldn’t quite identify. Quite a mélange! Of course, it was served with the typical sticky rice in a bamboo holder. Lao people eat sticky rice with their fingers by pulling a bit off and rolling it a little into a ball. So I tried to do the same, and now I know where the term ‘sticky fingers’ comes from! To accompany the meal I tried Mak Toum tea (tea from dried fruit of a quince tree). Fragrant and not too strong, a nice hot light beverage to have on a winter’s night! Still wearing a t-shirt here, sometimes a light jacket is needed for Lao’s cold winter nights!

When I got back to my hotel, I had a long chat to the nice young man at reception, who’d never heard of the Stew of Luang Prabang, but he recommended other tasty dishes that I will endeavour to seek out tomorrow!

Luang Prabang Night Market, Laos

Luang Prabang Night Market, Laos

Posted by Teamworkz 04:08 Archived in Laos Tagged night market laos prabang luang

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