Luang Prabang

Up the hill from the pier at Luang Prabang we found a tuk-tuk waiting for us. He drove us about a quarter of a mile to our guest house where the guy on reception was totally bemused by having people with luggage turn up. What could we possibly want? He spoke not a word of English. We showed him our voucher and the fax with our reservation details but of course, since he couldn’t speak English he had no chance of being able to read them. He even had a fax of the reservation in his guest book but still couldn’t work out what we might want. It was as if aliens had arrived in Luang Prabang. Eventually he worked it out and showed us to a room.

Before getting off the slow boat we had arranged to meet Joe, Phoebe, Renee, Marcel and Clare at L’etranger book and tea shop later that evening. Hannah part-exchanged a book there and we had pizzas with Marcel and Clare. The others turned up later having already eaten so we met them again later in a bar round the corner. There is a curfew throughout all of Laos and everyone is supposed to be home by midnight. There are places you can party later; in Luang Prabang it’s the bowling alley outside of town which stays open until about 03:00. At 23:15 the bar kicked us out and we decided to call it a night.

Next morning we had breakfast at Joma – expensive at between 30,000 and 60,000 kip (13,000 kip to the pound). Hannah was keen to go to Pak Ou (broken Buddha caves) on the other side of the river and I wanted to look round Luang Prabang. So we found her a private tour. Read all about it and her falling on her arse in her blog at Travelpod. I wandered round taking in the sights of Luang Prabang until the heavens opened at lunchtime. It’s a very pretty town with French colonial buildings and the obligatory wats scattered all over the place. Pretty much what I was expecting Chiang Mai to be. It’s definitely the nicest place I’ve seen so far in Laos. There are some photos at Flickr.

Hannah returned in the middle of the afternoon and later we met up with Joe, Phoebe and Renee for street meat and drinks. We all enjoyed our chicken on a stick but Hannah wasn’t so keen when hers made a repeat appearance the next morning. It may or may not have been related to the dodgy Lao cocktails. Entertainment for the evening was found in a bar where some drunken Kiwi girls were trying to teach the oh-so-gay Laotian guys to salsa.

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