Laos: beautiful Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a very cute little town. It’s not big but it has quite a combo of cultural, scenic and touristic stuff. The tourist area is polished and pretty, it has loads of temples, restaurants, a great handicraft and food market and many spas. We arrived with no reservation and negociated a great room with a 50% discount, right in the middle of the area we liked!
There is so much to do in Luang Prabang, the Lonely Planet states that it “will effortlessly seduce you”, and I totally agree. The historical district is a thin land between the Mekong and the Nam Song rivers, at sunset, everyone either go close to the rivers or up the Phu Si mountain, a small hill with temples and what is supposed to be a Buddha footprint. When we went there, we even had the luck to talk to two young monks with a perfect english. They said hello to us and started asking questions. This was very surprising as guides seem to be willing to keep an aura of mystery around monks (women cannot seat next to them, they cannot be addressed in certain ways etc…) but they seemed very easy going. Every night we went to the market where we found very good and cheap vegan buffets. It was so god that we didn’t go to a single restaurant in LP! There was also a fancy bakery selling leftover cakes from the previous day 50% cheaper. Every evening, we went there hopping for decaying sweets. They were so good, I can’t even imagine how the fresh ones must taste like! Because it has that hobo feel I took Silvere to a yoga class hosted in a hippie bar with a dedicated open air space right on the river. It was pretty cool as we have been doing some yoga every morning on our own for a little while, and this class setup completely beats the tiny and hot hotel rooms we usually workout in. Another beautiful morning activity we enjoyed was to watch the alms ceremony. At sunrise, the monks go out and get food for the day from the locals. We were lucky as the street behind our hotel was full of temples, one on every block, which means we didn’t have to go very far. We were told the ceremony started at 5.30am so we had an hour to enjoy a coffee with the locals before the monks actually came. It is by no mean considered like a charity or begging, the people who give food to the monks do it out of respect for them. ”
One day we went to the incredible menthol green waterfall with a couple of israeli we met at the vegan buffet, it was so picturesque! The visiting monks with their orange robes contrasting with the water color made it look unreel. We climbed up to the source and on the way back, I fell down on my hand. People around me were all so nice and trying to help but I was like “No! I can do it alone!”, and had what looked like a purple testicule on my palm for a few days. It was very sensitive, as blue balls are in general, but fortunately it was nothing serious. Because of that last part, we arrived late at the tuktuk who took us there and was waiting to take us back, which made him even more mad when the israeli couple decided to take an extra 20 minutes to go to the butterfly farm. Once back to LP, he asked for more money but since he never mentioned we’d have to make the visit under a certain time, we refused. He got so angry with me while I was apologizing for the misunderstanding and trying to explain that he told me “fuck”, to which I obviously replied “well fuck YOU”. He left in his tuktuk and screamed “fuck shiss, fuck shiss, fuck shiss” until he was too far away to be heard (a lot of the asian we met so far have trouble with the S sound, either add it when there’s no S or don’t prononce it when it’s there). He chose to laugh about it as it is so uncommon to witness someone that tacky in Laos. We visited so many temples, that were all so richly decorated with a lot of gold and colors, awesome paintings and mirrors…
While chatting with the young and friendly hotel receptionnist, we found out it was the Hmong new year and we could even be a part of it. The next day, we biked to the village celebrating it to find a kind of huge street fair with games, food and a massive amount of Hmong in their traditionnal costumes. They were all different and absolutely dazzling with colors, shapes and jewellery. We even got to try one and take an incredibly cheesy photo wearing it! Silvere once again displayed an unknown talent at throwing darts: he hit 3 balloons next to each other, on the same row, one after the other and won a very cool stuffed Doreamon that now belongs to me. The guys around us were obviously in awe with such an achievment (and so was I)! Hmong are especially small, and it really was not a touristic place, so it was pretty easy to spot us. Two different guys came to us, just to speak english with us. One of them was a history teacher at the university and explained what was the purpose of that celebration. Some of the Hmongs who were there came from very far away and the youngs use a ball game to meet each other. They simply stand in two lines, side by side, and throw a ball to each other. Then, once the ball has been thrown, they can chat, but not before. And so, this could be the beginning of a romantic affair. It was fun to be part of that celebration in a town as touristic as LP.

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Chili drying on the side of the road. 

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Kuang Si waterfall

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Kuang Si waterfall

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Silvere at the top of Kuang Si.

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The monks alms at sunrise.

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Old offerings being trashed.

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