After seven days in the lovely Luang Prabang, and a total of ten days in Laos, it’s time to say goodbye.
Vientiane, Laos PDR
Our stay here has been a mix of highs and lows. We felt we overstayed in Vientiane but we had no choice as we need to apply for G’s Vietnam Visa there. We were able to witness their festivities during the Ban Tat Luang – their Christmas/New Year – but it felt more like a big Perya with sellers everywhere broadcasting their wares on loudspeakers, trash everywhere, etc. (more about this on a separate post maybe). It should have been a ‘holy’ event but it didn’t feel like it, felt more like a fiesta than anything else.
One highlight during our visit to the main temple, the That Luang, was when I was brought aside and not allowed entry unless i buy and wear the Laotian skirt. I was fully covered but it’s not enough. Decided to just look around outside the temple and let G go in by himself instead of buying a skirt for one time use. Turns out, female foreigners CAN go in without wearing the skirt as long as they are full covered and it’s only the local women that are required to wear it. So that’s another case of a Filipino-turned-Laotian mix-up.
The best thing of the place though? Affordable and still amazing French food: Croissant and Pain au Chocolate in between meals, their oh-so-lovely quiches, best croissant sandwiches, cheap amaretto, cheap bike rental, etc. Sights? Not so much.
Luang Prabang, Laos PDR
This is another one of those Unesco Heritage sites we’ve visited during this trip. Not that the title is the main reason for our visit. Anyway, most friends say that it’s worth staying here longer and so we did.
We had a few days of lounging around in LP – G editing his book, me, catching up on Facebook gossip. That’s one day down. Then there’s another cultural day of visiting Wat (what?), yes, Wat. Which is also called That. Wat, That? Exactly, temples. Oh, and we added in the Royal Palace-turned-National Museum and Phousi (read: pussy) into that cultural mix. One day spent on chasing the banks after their the local ATM machine didn’t give our dough and our bank charged us for it. Whew, that was the lowest bit of the holiday. Having to speak to the local bank about the situation just made it all tedious, they just smile and laugh at you as they try to comprehend what you are saying; worse is when you speak to them on the phone… In the end, they can’t do anything about it as our bank should do the chargeback since it’s them who did credited the account (which I think is fair enough). Anyway, after speaking with the bank, we can only know of they are gonna charge it back to the account after 90days of investigation. Blech.
Another day was spent visiting the Pak Ou Caves and the Whisky Village which, I think is a fair assessment on our end, was not worth the effort. 80,000 kip for the 3hr boat trip (to and fro) for a cave full of miniature buddhas. Don’t expect some spelunking, et al. It’s really nothing like that. The Batu Caves in Malaysia is much more impressive though it can be, erm, smelly to those who have untrained nose. The Kuang Si Waterfalls, on the other hand, is a must visit. Just be careful, the current is strong and the pool can be really deep. The water is zero degrees cold (that is an exaggeration) but once you’re in, you’ll get used to it. Oh and yes, the grilled chicken legs and grilled fatty pork (liempo) for dinner was awesome – I get to eat with my hands!
A mix if chicken and pork kebabs with chips and salad sides. For 39,000 kip (about S$6) you can get this meal, cheap, huh? I wonder why Singapore can’t do something like this. If they ever do, they will market it as a hipster/hip place thus marking up the price! This is at The Tables by Julienne, along Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang.
Three countries down, two more to go. Of course, I don’t want all this traveling to end but I can’t help and get excited over what happens after this trip: Christmas… With the family! Finally!
This post was quickly written to kill time while waiting for our flight to Hanoi in the late afternoon. We only have enough for lunch, fare and airport fees because We don’t want to withdraw any more money as you cannot change KIP to something else… so we decided to stay in our hostel lobby using the free internet.