Still third day in Laos
Arrived in late afternoon. Loads of tourist, hundreds, arrived more or less at the same time and we had some trouble finding a room. Most room here were quite expensive, like 10 US Dollars.

Nice room
We shared a double, 5 US Dollar each. Nice clean rooms with water toilet and hot shower in room and a fan in the ceiling as well in the outer wall.

Nice and clean streets with low colonial buildings. A lot of new cars on the street and guest houses being built everywhere make you realize that this place is cooking.

Maybe to good to be true, cause within a near future this whole town will be turned into a backpacker inferno. In worst case with pot smoking as one of the main attractions. Don't forget, this is still the Golden Triangle.

A night market selling traditional handcraft work obstructed the  main road every evening. Bags, fibers and souvenirs. Mostly junk, in my opinion.

Outdoor food stands
More interesting was the outdoor food stands that sold all sort of strange food. Sausages, grilled fish, cookies and of course  steamed rice. As you were outdoor, you simply had to eat it with your fingers.


Luang Prabang has been a important center in this area for a long time. Between 8th-13th century the Lao culture, closely related to the Thai, established several city-states around here in the flood valleys . During that time it was a part of  a Thai-Lao culture covering the whole northern Thailand. This northern territory was part of the Khmer empire of Angkor.

As a result of a growing pressure from the power in Siam a Khmer supported conqueror, Fa Ngum, came to power. He consolidated the northern territory and formed the first Lao Kingdom in 1353 and made Luang Prabang his Capital. Even after the capital was moved to Vientiane in mid 16th century Luang Prabang remained a center of monarchial power, sometimes competing with the power of Vientiane.

During the following centuries there was a growing pressure from Siamese, Burmese and Vietnamese forces and times became less prosperous in Luang Prabang. Finally, after an aggressive attack by the Chinese Haw in 1887 the kingdom had to accepted French protection.

Even so, Luang Prabang remained a sort of kingdom under the French rulers, far away from the central power. It is said this place was a favorite spot among French colonials seeking refuge as far away from Paris as possible. Still at the beginning of the second world war, a journey up river from Saigon to Luang Prabang took longer time than the voyage from Paris to Saigon.

After the WW II Laos once again became a independent kingdom lasting until the communism revolution in 1975. The country was then closed until the fall of Soviet Union in 1989 when it was reopened for tourism. Today a new prosperous era is rebuilding the economy of the city . Besides, it is now placed on UNESCOs world heritage list, giving Luang Prabang a international recognition.


Fourth day in Laos
Chinese new year is coming up. Time keeping here is difficult, Chinese new year, Vietnamese new year, and just ordinary new year. Due to the celebrations, rumors said that the east going road to Vietnam was closed for several days.  Could mean a lot of trouble for the tourists with a narrow time table.

Electricity gone!
Sunday today. Had some problem as I found out there were no electricity in the whole town! Reminded me of my travel in Burma the other year. After being almost one week on the road I was in desperate need for laundry - not possible. And I would like to spent some time at the internet - not possible. Even more, as a coffee addicted suede I really needed me first cup in several days - not possible. Well, finally I had a ice coffee in can with a croissant for breakfast.  Not really my cup of tea, so to speak.

Laundry I had to do at my room using cold water and hair shampoo, not the first time anyway. And of course the hot shower wasn't that hot, but also no big deal.

Lao coffee
Later that day electricity came back. I guess it simply was a kind of Sunday power saving routine.  I had my first Lao coffee. Local coffee, yes, they grow coffee here, with this non-diary sweetened cream. This also reminded me of Burma, except that in Burma they always serve Chinese green tea to everything - for free! Nice tradition, but here in Laos Chinese tea doesn't seem to exist at all.

A the coffee shop close to my guesthouse I also exchanged money as they had the best rate, 9700 Kip for 1 US Dollar.                   

As the electricity went back, I also did some time at the internet store. 100 Kip per minute, meaning 1 cent/minute. I could live with that.


Biking around
I spent the day mostly biking around the city. Experiencing the local life. Not to exiting. Found a lot of temples of course. As any place in southeast Asia there are a lot of religious buildings.

Theravada Buddhism
This is a small temple in typical Theravada style. Sharp roof top with pinnacles.

Theravada Buddhism became the state religion in Luang Prabang in late 14th century. Inspired by the  Khmer in Angkor. I believe they were Hindus before that time, but I'm not really sure.


The alter and Buddha are also in a sharp triangle. On the walls are paintings with episodes of Buddha's life. The paintings are not always very high class.


That Comsi
As everywhere in Southeast Asia - if there is a hill there is a temple. So even here at the central hill of Luang Prabang. On the top lays That Comsi, a 19th century temple. Besides, the hill is the natural place to watch the sunset.


Hans-Peter Nilsson måndag, februari 12 2007 19:47

Luang Prabang

Tiden går snabbt här men transporterna långsamt. Har nu varit två nätter i Luang. Det kommer att  bli en till, sedan åker jag halvvägs ner mot huvudstaden, men gör en avstickare österut. Det är bara en cm på kartan men en heldags busstur. Undrar om jag hinner till Cambodia överhuvudtaget.

Någon nämde ett ordstäv på bussen häromdagen: I Laos odlar dom ris - I Cambodia ser man på när riset växer. Vet inte vad det egentligen betyder men det är ganska full aktivitet på Laoiterna. Här i Luang Prabang byggs det flitigt i hela staden. Tyvärr har det blivit ett upphausat turistplejs (alla turister måste passera här på något sätt) och det mesta som byggs tycks vara gästhus och sovenirbutiker.

Gil och Cecille är därfor sköna att umgås med. Dom tillhör de riktiga lågbudgetresenärerna som har sässongsarbete där hemma och under lågsässongen lever billigt här nere kanske ett halvår i sträck. Jag har inte sett Gil byta kläder sedan vi traffades för fem dagar sedan och Cecill prutar på allting hon ser och är förbannad att vattnet kostar 2000 när priset snarare skulle vara hälften.

Har ingen koll på mina pengar men det verkar inte gå åt så mycket i vilket fall. Jag har växlat i kakbutiken utanför hotellet som har den bästa kursen, 1 dollar ger 9700 Kip. Jäkla räknande hela tiden. Jag utgår ju från svenska kronor men tänker i Dollar, bär med mig Thai Bath och handlar med Kip.

Kakbutik? Jo, dom har kakbutiker här och ett västerlandskt café med croissanter och äpplekaka. Baguetter och bröd säljs på gatan. Det är ju trots allt en gammal fransk kolloni.



The Royal Palace and museum
The Royal Palace was built in 1904 by the French rulers. It's built in a combination of Lao-French architecture with Italian marble on the front steps. For official visitors it was possible to disembark direct at the riverside. The Royal family died in jail after being imprisoned during the revolution 1975. Locals prefer not to go here during late hours as they believe the place is haunted by ghosts of the royal family.

In front of the royal residence there was one of the most beautiful Theravada Buddhist temple. Beautifully decorated and carefully watched over by the Naga, the seven headed snake.

Today the residence serve as a museum. It is still in the same shape as during the monarchial time. It showed the royal life, very much in a colonial style. Not to exiting.


On the countryside


Fifth day in Laos
The final day in Luang Prabang. Fried rice with chicken for breakfast, once again. 15000 Kip.

I hired a bike and took off to the countryside on the east going road, heading for the mountains. My goal was one of the several beautiful waterfalls in the area. There was only one though, Tat Sae, that was reachable by bike, 15 km from the town.

Biking on the countryside
The countryside was quite hilly, as expected. As I finally reached the top, I found that I had to go all the way down the hill on the other side on a long steep slope. I'm a used biker but no chance I would manage this on my way home.


Primitive agriculture
The earth is still cultivated by simple methods. I'm not aware of what they are growing out here in the mountains.



Local village
A village in the hilly countryside outside Luang Prabang. Life seems simple out here, quite different from the city, but still functional. Wooden huts shared with hens, dogs and pigs as everywhere in the southeast Asia. But, a satellite antenna is present! Means they also got electricity!


Typical buildings
All over Laos and Cambodia it's common to build the houses on high pillars, like here on the left picture. The lower buildings are meant for storage or animal keeping.

This save yourself from indoor flooding during the rainy season, I guess. But even in non flooding areas you found the same construction as it gives a nice shelter for the daily homework during hot summer days. 


Young boys out hunting in the woods. Maybe for the fun of it, maybe to enrich the dinner.


Back on the river
Finally, after one and a half hour I reached the waterfall. The final way  was made by a small boat. The fee for the boat was 20000 Kip (2 USD), quite expensive I would say.


Out of season
I had a funny hint that maybe there was not being that much water this time of year. Actually it turned out there was no water at all. And no tourists at all, not even a single person at all. Finally I found a one square meter big pool with a miniature of a waterfall. 

But it was really a meditative place this way. Peaceful and quiet but also with a dramatic scenery. A 50 meter long bridge covered dry land, where the water soon should flow. You could imagine the force of the water that in two month will flood this area.


Forts. måndag, februari 12 2007 19:47

I dag har jag cyklat 3 mil upp i bergen. 1,5 tur och retur. Ca 1 tim 20 min per riktning, lite sämre än min mellantid till Oxie som ligger pa 27 min per mil. Kom ganska nyligen på att Sverige antagligen är det ända land som använder begreppet MIL, Danmark kanske. Whatever.

Hyrde en fin 21 växlad cykel. Den första hade punktering, på den andra trillade ena pedalen av efter 200 meter, men den tredje funkade bra. Något konstigt biljud men det får man väl räkna med. 3 dollar för en dag.

Jag ville se omgivningarna och besöka ett vattenfall i närheten. Jag passerade en del småbyar utmed vägen. Människorna verkar trevligare ute pa landsbygden. När man hälsar Sabbadi-iiii flinar alla och hälsar tillbaka. Vägen gick med svag uppforsbacke hela tiden och jag hade listat ut att då måste det bli en lång nerförsbacke pa vägen hem.  Men det smög sig. De sista tre kilometrarna innan vattenfallet gick det plötsligen brant nerför. Shit.

Jag fann i alla fall mitt vattenfall. Men... vattnet var slut! Hade haft lite misstankar på det. Torrperiod nu och regnet kommer inte förän i Juli. Det var ända spännande att se ett femtio meter brett vattenfall som nu hade en rännil pa fem cm. Otroliga krafter som sätter igang under regnperioden. Stället  var nu en ganska sedativ plats. Inte en manniska i sikte. Restaurangen och barstolarna stod tomma. När det är sässong är detta ett populärt utflyktsmål for lokalbefolkningen.

I morgon bar det vidare till Phonsavann, kanske tio timmar med den lokala bussen, 85000 pengar. Fortfarande uppe i bergen i norra Laos.



The sun sets once again over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River. The steam from the water creates a magical scenery. The view from the hill reminds you that you still are in the mountain area.


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Hans-Peter Nilsson