Sunday, 15 February 2015

Luang Prabang

Oh I love Luang Prabang! I was praying that the last few days of my trip would be good, after Vietnam turned out to be such a disappointment, and Laos has delivered. 

It's a pity I only have time to just do here, and not travel around Laos more, but I'd heard that LP is the place to be. And I can see why. 

The old city is tiny, sitting comfortably between the mighty Mekong and one of its tributaries, which are crisscrossed by bamboo bridges. It's a traveller's dream, with impressive temples, French caf├ęs and bakeries, a large night market, and Buddhist monks who stroll the cobbled streets beneath the palm trees, all surrounded by forested mountains. It has a really relaxed vibe, and the sun has come out for my last few days of travelling. Gotta work on that tan or no one will believe I've been away! 

The town is small, but there's plenty going on. I just want to drink in the atmosphere wherever I go. When I get to a new city I love to just wander aimlessly and see what's going on. Luang Prabang is a great place to get lost. 

After the pushiness of Vietnamese people I was so happy to find Laotians much more chilled out and polite. When you walk into a shop or pass by a stall they don't immediately jump on you and start pestering. Someone needs to spread the word that this is not a good selling technique for Westerners. 

There's a very popular bar here called Utopia, which is recommended in all the guidebooks, and I went there on my first night with some people I met in the hostel. It has a nice atmosphere, with cushions and low tables right on the riverside. I think I might go there on my last night and have a cocktail, and reflect on the last year. 

Today I took a minivan to Kouang Si waterfalls (35,000 kip + 20,000 entry) and was not expecting them to be as beautiful as they were. From the photos I'd seen it looked very similar to Erawan Falls near Kanchanaburi, Thailand, but the actual tumbling waterfalls were much more stunning here. I was a bit blown away by them. The actual splash pools are prettier at Erawan, but it made for a lovely hike up to the top and back down for lunch and an ice cream. 

I realised as I was hiking back down from the top how happy I've been the past year. There have been lows, of course, but I've loved the freedom of travelling. Luang Prabang is the perfect place for me to chill and just enjoy my last few days. I can't recommend it enough. 

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