Luang Prabang – Laos!

by hamishandkat

Luang Prabang, on the banks of the  (currently silty and brown) Mekong River, is a sweet little town with french colonial buildings, good food, bars and a really nice vibe.

After checking into some very reasonable ~AU$ 7 / night accomodation (Halo Laos Guesthouse) we grabbed a couple of pushies and headed into town.  We pulled into a little gallery we spied called Project Space to check out the opening of a few new exhibitions, including local resident Ken Yarborough’s interpretation of Spirit Houses, which Kat and I both loved.

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Spirit House in elephant form

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After some ruthless bargaining by our friends from the US and Germany we made a boat trip back the way we’d come to Luang Prabang to check out the Pak Ou Caves, now more an archaeological site than a working place of worship.  The upper cave is filled with fragments of former Buddhas in wood and bronze and stretches back about 50m.

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Boat acceleration assembly - including nails for "Perfect Pass" cruise control

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Pak Ou Caves from the Mekong

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Upper Cave entrance

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It’s been raining most days and nights, usually a small amount around midday and then a lot more in the early evening, resulting in much riding of motorbikes and pushies equipped with umbrellas

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We stumbled upon a really nice little bar, Ikon, run by Hungarian expat Lisa.  Serving up a mean mojito, we ended up spending a night here meeting other locally based foreigners – Henning from www.die-bambusschule.de , an NGO building schools in rural SE Asia, and Keiran from Melbourne who’s completing his PhD in the effects of Chinese foreign investment in Laos.  And an american guy that didn’t get my sense of humour or the one about sweating at a Wiggles concert.

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Lisa also shows movies upstairs on Saturday nights and we couldn’t resist the temptation of a couch and beers to watch this one…

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We’ve been travelling with our guidebooks in PDF form, some on the iPod and some on the iPad… but somehow there’s a problem with a couple of the Laos chapters, so instead we’re running with those printed out on little bits of paper.  Lonely Planet were actually really great about it and comp’d us a couple of chapters for our troubles.

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Next we’re off to Nong Khiaw, doing the long way around to Sam Neua to check out the archaeological park there, before heading back down to Phonsovan and the Plain of Jars, the verdict is still out on whether we’ll stop in Vang Vieng for tubing on our way to Vientiane.  A couple of stops after that and we’ll be in Vietnam!

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