Where in the world are Raime and Kate? travel blog

An unknown sculpture beside a wat

Famous Wat Xieng Thong, c. 16th century

From towards the hills from Wat Xieng Thong

Rice cakes in the sun

Sunset from Phu Si

Another sunset shot

Enjoying the view

The wat atop Phu Si

More biking!

"I don't think those bikes are gonna stay in the boat..."

"Looks like they'll make it!"

Lao picnic

Tad Sae Waterfall


Livin' it up in the sunshine

Looking downstream

What a place...

Practice session for the annual boat race

Riding thru a village

The biggest highway in Laos, seriously

Riverside dining

Taxis and tuk-tuks lining up for boat passengers (the boat arriving in...

Food market - we never ate at this bacteria fest

Enjoying some shade by an old wat

Phu Si thru the window

Another view

Cool paintings by the wat entrance

Typical Asian sidewalk

Woman with offerings to sell to tourists

Young monk receiving alms

Our first full day here in Luang Prabang we took our guide book's

advice and started at the Royal Palace. The royal family lived here until

they mysteriously disappeared with the advent of the Lao Democratic

Republic in 1975. It was interesting to wander through and see how this

palace was much more sparse than some of the ones we saw in Europe, and

you're not allowed to wear shoes inside! Only in Asia...This was also the

first place we saw huge groups of tourists in quite a while. Apparently

only 5 years ago tourists were pretty scarce in this city, but that has

certainly changed. We're afraid that in another 5 or 10 years it will

feel like Venice did when we were there in August! Ugh! So after our big

tourist outing of the morning and a $4 lunch we had to spend the rest

of the afternoon reading and relaxing. :)

On Thursday we spent most of the morning wandering the city, exploring

some of the temples, and inevitably getting too much sun. The rainy

season seems to have officially ended so we're getting used to the full

sun days. Hot, but still nice. This city is great because it's small

enough that after one morning of wandering we felt comfortable leaving the

map at home and finding our own way around. That afternoon we split up

to take care of some important business-Raime got his hair cut for $2,

and Kate got a $6 facial! That evening we climbed up Phu Si, the hill

in the middle of the city, to catch the sunset with the rest of the

white tourists in town. It was crowded but it was a great view of the city

and the surrounding countryside. We saw a plane zoom overhead and land

at the TINY airport. Nice to see a safe landing, since we'll be flying

out of there tomorrow! Another $5 dinner at a great Indian

restaurant (who would have thought?) and we were set for the night.

Friday we got up early to go on a mountain bike trip that we arranged

through White Elephant Adventures, a company run by a Canadian expat.

It was a great day. We even had Trek bikes and helmets, which is more

than we could say on some of our European bike tours! We spent the

morning riding on some rugged but beautiful country roads. We stopped off

at a village for what we've come to call the 'human zoo' exhibition, but

it wasn't so bad. We walked by the school where all the kids were

really friendly and eager to shout English words at us. This happened all

day, the best time was when some naked little ones who were bathing in a

stream near the road saw us, and then started to run alongside us

shouting "Hello! Goodbye! 1-2-3-4-5!" After a couple of hours of riding we

arrived at a river. Our guide shouted to a villager who was fishing from

his canoe, who then came over, loaded our 4 bikes into his boat,

paddled them across, and then came back for us. The bikes weighing down the

canoe were quite a site. A bit more riding and a motorboat ride brought

us to a really cool waterfall. There were many levels of limestone rock

and in some places there were trees in the middle of the pools. Our

guide pulled out lunch and we picnicked Lao style (see pix). For the next

couple of hours we explored the falls and soaked our muscles which

hadn't been worked so hard in quite a while. Back on the bikes we headed

out to Laos' main highway. (On the way our guide met a girl on a

motorbike and we had to wait for a minute while he got her number!) The

'highway' seems barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass and there can be cows

wandering down it at any moment! There wasn't much traffic, though, so we

had a nice ride back into town. That night we hit a bar in town, but we

didn't even make it to last call (which here in Laos is 10:30!) after

our sunny biking adventures. This is a good place to note that if anyone

has a chance to try Beer Lao, we (and many European blind taste

testers, too!) highly recommend it. It may not be $0.70 for 640mL like it is

here, but it will be worth it.

Yesterday we headed across the river to explore a temple on a hill with

a really nice view of the city and another temple in a cave! The kids

in the village saw the cave being unlocked when we got there so they all

flocked down into the depths with us, which made us feel better since

it was a little creepy down there! Another lazy afternoon and one more

trip to the night market.

This morning we work up before dawn to get out to the main road to see

the monks receiving alms from the Buddhist women. There are many

temples in Luang Prabang so there are over 300 monks and novices in the

city. All of them come out every morning to receive offerings of sticky

rice and other food from people. Even though there were a number of

other tourists there (a few hundred meters down the road a few busloads

were dropped off) we were glad we got up early to see this custom. There

was a sea of orange-clad monks walking down the street collecting rice.

Some of them were very old and some of them were very young. It was

really a cool thing to see.

Tomorrow we're headed to country #13-Vietnam. Flights are not like at

home here so we have to check in twice and despite the fact that the

flight time is 2 hours it's going to be an all-day affair. But better

than the 23 hour bus ride on scary roads, we're sure. Vietnam should bring

a whole new set of adventures.

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