Now we’re settled into Luang Prabang, the beautiful, sleepy city on the Mekong River that boasts plenty of tourists AND tons of charm. It’s still possible, apparently. That same frustration at seeing so many farang (white foreigner) faces around town turns to ambivalence when you realize that, aside from you being one of them, the presence of so much Western tourism makes it a darn easy town to get around. Prices have gone up a bit (sorry, that’s $20 for a night in a guest house instead of $5) but it’s still a lovely city with beautiful wats, waterfalls just 20 minutes from town, amazing food and lots of atmosphere. It was colonized by the French after all—while the coffee and bread aren’t quite as amazing as they might have been 50 years ago, the colonial houses are gorgeous and a fascinating foil to the humble shacks sitting adjacent. Quite the study in contrasts, as with other places in Southeast Asia. Wealth disparity, poverty alongside technology, high-class service for tourists while families struggle…you get used to these things, I think, and realize that your dollars (or Kip, or baht) are at least fueling the local economy.
Anyway, diatribe aside, we’re enjoying the slow pace of life here. We did find one cafe with very passable coffee that sits across from the river. A great place to relax and read. Also, the last night’s traditional Lao dinner and tonight’s Korean barbecue (that’s right, Danielle) were excellent. I mean, truly memorable—especially tonight: our own little hot pot grill over hot coals with tons of meat, veggies and mushrooms, tamarind sauce and tasty broth. So good. Plus the fruit shakes cooled everything down so nicely…We both ate far past the point of fullness but were so very satisfied. One of our favorite meals on the continent for sure!
We also walked up Phousi Hill to the Wat (temple) at the top, which had tons of interesting Buddha statues (including one each for Monday—Sunday) and a “footprint.” Gorgeous views of the Mekong and the valley below. We will upload pics when we return to Chiang Mai on Monday.
A waterfall trek is on the docket for tomorrow, plus either a motorbike out of town or more trekking on the weekend. Continuing the Lao adventure!