Friday 2 June 2017

More Luang Prabang For Your Buck

Luang Prabang is the ancient capital of Laos, before the capital was switched to the far less impressive city of Vientiane (more on Vientiane later). It's built at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers and it has a real olde worlde colonial feel to it. Truly, it's a beautiful, very relaxed little city and its not hard to see why the whole place is a UNESCO world heritage site. It also really drove home what everyone had told me about Laos before I went.   
Laos isn't really a place with 'attractions'. If you go to Laos, it would be difficult to come up with a list of things you wanted to see or do before you went because there aren't really that many. Similarly, it's hard to describe what you did because that's not really how Laos works. You don't really 'do' things, you just kind of exist there and enjoy the incredibly slow pace of life. Like, super slow. Even in the biggest city in the country, the pace of life in Luang Prabang was nothing compared to the hustle and bustle of a comparably sized city in other parts of South East Asia, like Chiang Mai. You just have to relax and enjoy doing nothing and possibly knock back a cheeky Beerlao or two - that's the Laos way. 
That being said, we did do some things. Luang Prabang is quite close to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls which made for a good day out enjoying the cold, weirdly blue water cascading over a series of waterfalls.   
This is an Irishman having the time of his life
Also, there were bears
  Closer to camp, we also checked out a few of the nicer temples and even climbed the mountain in the centre of the city. By 'mountain' it was only 355 steps but you felt every one of them when you climb in the midday heat. 
And we found a pool
Luang Prabang also had a number of pretty cool bars along the river, complete with fire dancers and ridiculously dangerous drops of like 30 meters from the main bar area to the river below with no railings or anything whatsoever. I really liked the fact that there are essentially no laws or safety regulations in Laos (a far cry from the Australian nanny state) but I will admit I felt pretty uncomfortable with that drop, particularly at night. 
One law that Laos and Sydney do have in common though, is an unnecessary and restrictive closing time for bars and clubs. Weirdly, the one venue in Luang Prabang which seemed to have an exemption to this curfew is the local bowling alley. When midnight hits, the contents of every bar in town crowd into tuk-tuks and kick on at the bowling alley which, of course, sells cheap Beerlao and plays only the finest pop songs of the early 2000's.        And of course, as with everywhere else in Asia, there were the markets...