Monday, March 16, 2009

Luang Prabang

The Sun sort of came up this morning but was never particularly visible. At 10am when we left it was a red orb squinting through the thick haze. Visibility was no more than a couple of hundred metres. The small landing site, just below, was scarcely visible and looked very picturesque through the haze.
Back on the boat it was quite chilly, those who started the journey in shorts and t-shirts had their sturdier travelling gear on. As with the day before Beer Lao was still the drink of choice. Burnt off hills could be seen from time to time, the burning of which is a prime contributor to the haze that surrounded us.
Around lunch time we passed by a large barge moored beside the river, beside it I saw an elephant dragging a tree trunk. It was quite a sight.
At about 6pm we arrived in Luang Prabang. We spent an hour or so cruising along the banks of the 2 rivers on whose confluence the city sits for a nice guesthouse. It was clear that we had arrived at a touristy place. It seemed that just about every house with a river view was a hotel or guesthouse.
Luang Prabang is a lovely town, many of the buildings in the old centre are either from the French colonial period or mimick that style. This style as practiced here was very elegant. They were all two stories high and had balconies, on the upper floor often with open verandas underneath. There were also quite a few wooden Lao houses, built on stilts. Many of these places were surrounded by gardens. While it isn't the capital of the country it had been in the past and had a number of monuments from those periods, most notably buddhist temples. Some of which were quite superb. Monks dressed in orange robes were all over town. Tourism had arrived in Luang Prabang. Town was filled with nice little tourist shops and fancy restaurants.
We stayed in a small guesthouse just beside the Xieng Thong temple. The place was called Nammavong Guesthouse and was 100,000 kip for an airconditioned room, though we'd have settled with something without either aircon or a fan as it wasn't too hot at night, however we wanted the view on the Mekong.

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