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Luang Prabang to Huay Xai

overcast 28 °C

We decided that on our last day in Luang Prabang we should get up early and view the monks receiving their daily food from the local people. Yee (our guide at the elephant camp) let us know how to observe the ritual politely – keep quiet, maintain a respectful distance from the locals, and to sit down so that the monks were higher than us.

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It was really nice to see that the traditions are still alive even though the region is fast becoming one of the main tourist destinations in Laos.

We were surprised when we got a knock on our door later that morning by Yee. He had been to the office and picked up our official ‘Mahout Accreditation’ certificates and decided to deliver it to our door. What a great guy!

The rest of the day we just hung out and got another massage before we boarded the bus at 6pm to Huay Xai – a border town between northern Thailand, eastern Burma (now Myanmar), and western Laos, and also the doorstep to the Bokeo Nature Reserve where we plan on doing The Gibbon Experience (next blog entry).

The night bus was unsurprisingly hellish, for the first time on our whole trip we were freezing cold – the air-con was pumping, and so was the local Laos music…all night!! I’ll try to describe Laotian music for you. Basically if you have ever played with a cool electric keyboard that has those pre-programmed beats that start with a touch of a button – whether it be ‘rock’ with its cymbals and drums or ‘pop’ with the upbeat techno sound – you have your starting point. Add some cow bells, some horns, some shakers, and of course a high-pitched whiny voice and you’ve got yourself a number 1 hit. The only thing that changes between songs is the singer and the words, all of which sound the same to us. So that was what we listened to for 13 hours. It certainly wasn’t made any better with the rocky, pot hole riddled road winding through the steep mountain passes. But oh well, we expect it now so it isn’t a big deal.

We arrived at Huay Xai bus stop early the next morning and after a short tuk tuk ride into the main city we checked into a guest house and slept for 5 hours. The rest of the day was uneventful; all we did was feast and walk around the town. Although tomorrow brings us to day 1 of our 3 day adventure into the jungles of northern Laos as we embark on ‘The Gibbon Experience’ – exciting!

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 00:29 Archived in Laos Tagged monk laos luang_prabang nightbus huay_xai laos_music laotian_music monk_morning_walk Comments (0)

Luang Prabang - Where the world slows down

rain 25 °C

Well we have made it to Luang Prabang in Laos. We weren’t planning on flying but our poor organization resulted in us only having one day left on our Vietnamese visa’s, two days travel from the border. It was our first domestic flight in Asia and we were pleased on not dying so that is good.

Luang Prabang is situated on the peninsula where the Nam Khan River meets the Mekong River. It is famous for its Buddhist temples and monasteries where hundreds of monks call home.

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It rained only one day during our whole month in Vietnam and since arriving in Laos it has rained pretty much non-stop. Laos is very different from Vietnam, we haven’t heard a single horn beep since arriving or been harassed by a tuk tuk driver, and the street dogs are much more friendly :).
Laos is also heaps more laid-back than its neighbours, sometimes this can be frustrating but you just have to remember that a huge majority of Laotian people are Buddhists and live by the motto ‘No worries’, so with patience things eventually get done.

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We’ve spent 5 days in Luang Prabang, not really doing anything in particular. We have just been exploring the surrounding area on foot and getting into the slower paced rhythm of Laos, the constant rain has also hampered any real attempts at venturing further from town, as most tours are ‘view’ based. We visited the night market nearly every night which was nice.

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^^ Night market

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^^ Kirby getting a fruit drink from our friend Jasmine

We also spent some time visiting Wat Xieng Thong temple, built in 1560 on the orders of the King, it is decorated with thousands of beautiful mosaics.

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^^ Tree of life mosaic

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At night we have been venturing to the bars to take advantage of the happy hour, although most places in Luang Prabang have a happy hour from 2pm – 9pm. The local liquor of choice is called ‘Lao Lao’ and it is a super sugary alcohol, very strong but sickly sweet. There isn’t much to the night life, the city has a curfew and you should be at your registered place of stay by 11pm.

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^^ Writing some blogs

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After spending so much time relaxing in the sleepy town we decided on doing a 3 day Mahout course at the local elephant sanctuary. All the elephants are rescued logging elephants (mostly illegal logging) that used to spend their lives hauling massive, heavy trees through places inaccessible by vehicles. Fingers crossed it decides to stop raining.

Cheers, Kyle

Posted by KyleMac 00:54 Archived in Laos Tagged temple elephant laos luang_prabang mosaics monastary wat_xieng_thong lao_lao asia_domestic_flight Comments (0)

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