20 February 2016

Living in Luang Prabang & Weighing the Laundry

A few years back, we took a wooden boat to Luang Prabang.
I didn't know what to expect from Laos, but probably not this:


The beautiful and mighty Mekong. 
From the Thai border town of Chiang Khong, there was no road. 
It took two full days on the Mekong River to get to Luang Prabang. 

Our boat was owned by the family who lived aboard it. 
There were 6 passengers, plus the family.

The kids on the boat and I used my colored pencils to draw. Mostly monsters. 



The boat was spacious enough to wander around. Seats were car seats.

The family cooked for us on the boat as we enjoyed the scenery and the intimidating power of the river. We stayed overnight (as everyone does) in the dusty riverside town of Pak Beng.


I have great memories of a late night in "Only Bar" in Pak Beng. 
(That was the name. And it was.) 
The bar owner started us with a complimentary shot of local banana liquor. 

There was no electricity. 
How we ever found our guesthouse after that evening - in the dark - is beyond me.


But back to Luang Prabang: 
Perhaps arriving by boat began the magic. 
We climbed up the steps from the river to find a graceful town. 
Stan and I agreed that we could easily spend longer here. 
It's cooler. Peaceful.


Luang Prabang, nestled in a crook between the Mekong River and the Nam Khan, hasn't changed too much in the past few years. They say that the original explorers of a hundred years ago would recognize it.
Toasted coconut dessert on bamboo leaves. Night market treat.
Rivers, palm trees, surrounding mountains.
Orchids grow from walls, epiphytes hang from trees.

The streets are clean, and folks are friendly.

The buildings are mostly wooden, and have an appealing amount of wabi-sabi crookedness to them.
Aside from one really annoying cat, it's pretty much heaven.

Tortilla sort of things drying in the sun.

A few dozen colorful temples and monasteries. 
Each one is different.
I've drawn a few, but can't remember the names - 

Wat Souvannapourmaram. 
Wat Choumkhong Surin Tharam. 
Wat Xiangmouane Vajiramangalaram. 

Who knows which Wat is what. 
(Sorry, couldn't resist.)


Monks in photogenic orange robes glide through the town's narrow passageways and cross bridges handmade of bamboo. 
(The bamboo bridges have to be rebuilt each year after the rains.)


The French influence left good bakeries - croissants! - baguettes! - and small restaurants.
We've even found a few bottles of good wine.

Waiting for (good!) cappuccini at the French bakery.
There is a large fresh market.
Plenty of excellent food stalls.

A large Night Market. 
Fabrics from the hill tribes. 
Art. Handicrafts. 
Desserts.

Eating at the Night Market
Quite a few of the ingredients are exotic. 
At least - for us.


Everything is fresh. Some things are still wiggling.


Mekong River catfish. Eels. Chickens. Tadpole tamales.

Street stalls provide delicious fresh squeezed smoothies. 
Avocado, lime, and mint? 
Mango, apple and dragonfruit? 

They'll make sandwiches for you to take on a bicycle picnic. 
Everything can be made to go. 

(Bicycles are for rent - $2 a day. 
They didn't even take our names down. 
Just gave us the bikes and waved.)


The food is excellent - even the local delicacy known as river seaweed - kind of like crunchy and spicy nori chips. The pace is slow.


We've been here for about three weeks. 

We've taken a few forays up to smaller towns up and down various Laotian rivers in wooden boats.




Our home in Nong Khiaw, one of our forays. Right on the river.

Here in Luang Prabang, we found another small teak guesthouse with a lovely balcony to call home. The phrase "happy as clams" comes to mind. 

(No, I don't know much about clams. But they probably have some for sale at the market.)


I've been pretty useless in keeping up this blog. 
I don't know how much I like working on a computer while I could be out soaking up mysteries and just enjoying the environment.

So much happens! 
So many stories! 
Such weird tales and great experiences!

This Khmu woman demonstrated by dancing how tipsy we could get if we drank the palm wine from her tiny mugs. 

And: I get so very far behind! How will I ever catch up?

We've been traveling in Southeast Asia since mid November. 
It's now mid February.

A lot has happened! 
However, I realize most people (including family) have NO idea where we are.

So - here's a brief summary - and a map.

(Drew this map on the last trip.)

We started with a month in Myanmar (Burma).

Incredibly long U Bein teak bridge, all handmade. This is one small section.

Traveled around Myanmar (Burma) as much as our 28-day visas allowed.
Bus, train, boat, plane, tuk-tuk, horsecart, motorcycle, bicycle. 
It's a big country. And very cool.

Main train station. Hsipaw, Myanmar.

We also spent a month in Thailand.
Two weeks renting a lovely traditional teak house in the south.


Erik visited from Bangkok. 
We explored caves, markets and temples.


...and two weeks in a spiffy high rise apartment.
28th floor in Bangkok. 
Near Erik's place. 
Wonderful.

View from our Bangkok apt.

2 BR, 2 bath, balcony and awesome view. -Thanks, Airbnb.

In between, another two weeks sailing around the Myeik Archipelago, which are those little islands north of Phuket on the map, along the coast of Myanmar. Mamma mia! How beautiful.

The Zoe III, our home in Myeik.

(Here is Erik's GoPro video of the sailing trip - which I LOVE!)
Watch it if you possibly can - it's only 4 minutes. 
It will awaken every urge to travel you've ever suppressed!


Then: two weeks traveling around Cambodia, including rivers, cities and Angkor Wat.

Ancient ruins and trees taking over - Cambodia.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Now, we're in Luang Prabang, in Laos. 
We'll be here most of February.


Each of the places we've visited has so many good tales!
Ones that are not in the blog. And may never be.

Village street in Laos - north of Luang Prabang.

But yes, I am keeping a detailed journal.
I have 3 so far.

And drawing. 

Not as much as I'd like, but - still. 
Little sketches in the journals.

Weighing the laundry: 1 kilo costs about $1.00.

One of MANY journal pages. 

We're taking lots of photos. 
(Thousands. I intend to draw at least most of them, someday!) *sigh*
And: We're having a helluva good time. 

I can hardly believe our good fortune.

So maybe I'll work on the blog more after I return home.

View of the Nam Khan River.
-Maybe.

Relive the experiences. 
Organize the stories.

So this is a bit of an apology.

Sunset Bungalow, Beer Lao. Trying to blog.

The bottom line is: 
I'm just having too much fun to mess with tech matters and computers.
Mea culpa.

-It might be time for another Beer Lao.


3 comments:

  1. Don't apologize for having a good time! You don't have a schedule to keep.

    Those weird coconut treats look particularly good. Not sure about the frogs.

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  2. The food is looking much better than before! Glad you're having such a great time. Sounds like you've got material for a sequel to your book! ;-)

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  3. It's great! And beer Lao has been voted one of the best in Asia! Enjoy this secret corner of the world.

    ReplyDelete