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October 27, 2004


Throughout our journey we've encountered several monuments or natural landscapes that are listed with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as World Heritage sites but Luang Prabang is one of its few cities. Since our first step off that miserably long boat ride down the Mekong we could tell that Luang Prabang was a unique place. With over 30 wats (aka Buddhist temples) we expected the place to be a huge city. Vientiane, the capital of Laos doesn't even have that many temples but to our great relief Luang Prabang is relaxed, smog free, and ever so slightly French enough to drink cafe au lait at lunch or have baguettes for breakfast. The main mode of transport here is by bike or by foot and the main street is the only place with any sense of chaos if you could call it that. The side roads are deserted and quiet. If things just get to be too much to handle you can always relax under a tree by the Mekong (once your butt forgives you for the boat ride). If I ever had any ideas of what I thought Asia would be then Luang Prabang is the place I imagined. Nothing is rushed here and it seems unchanged from the days of old. Rice Cakes are still dried on screens while strolling monks shield themselves from the sun.

Despite the easy pace of things there is still alot to see and do. After a day of jusut exlporing the city we decided to climb Phousi hill for good views of the area. Amanda rang the bell up top before we hiked back down and visited the royal palace museum. The Royal Family disappeared in 1975 and haven't been heard from since. Too bad because their house was pretty cool. Once the sun goes down a whole other world springs up on the street outside the palace in the form of a beautiful night market. Handmade quilts, pillowcases, clothes and other knick knacks are sold under 75 watt light bulbs strung across the road. Old women fawn over you in the hopes of a sale and little girls show their needlepoint purses that took "3 month" to sew. Holding Amanda back from buying the entire market we finally made it back to our guesthouse.

A chilled out environment is always welcome but after a few days we needed to find a little excitement. Next day we decided to rent a tut tuk and drive out to a local waterfall. Yeah, I know. I am sick of silly little waterfalls too. After an hour drive on a dirt road and a quick stop at Hmong village where we were the main attraction we made it to the falls. What a surprise! Now this was a waterfall!! You can't really see it well in the picture but the first tier is an additional 30 feet above, recessed a bit into the cliff. After it pours over the tier and falls an additonal 100 feet to the deep pool below before flowing away to join the Mekong. We made advantage of this on such a hot day! Amanda followed shortly after. This worked up an appetite but since not much was on the menu we headed back to town. After a quick snack we visited Wat Xieng Thong.

For a little more excitement we took off the next day for the Pak Ou caves we'd passed on the boat ride down the Mekong. These caves are supposed to house several thousand buddha images though many have been removed over the years. The caves once enjoyed royal patronage and seemed to have once been much more majestic than the tourist trap it is now.

We spent a enjoyable week here in World Heritage Luang Prabang but had to move on despite our desire to sit in the side street cafes all day. This is one town I'll definitely come bak to if I ever get the chance!

Posted by Josh on October 27, 2004 06:24 AM
Category: Where are we?

Liked the picture of you guys at the've got one powerful remote! Have just registered my own blog at bootsnall. Might even use it.
Leave for Tokyo tomorrow.

happy travels

Posted by: John on October 28, 2004 09:08 AM

Yeah. Nice Falls shot. About time!
Love you, Dad

Posted by: Steven on October 29, 2004 08:51 PM
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