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.
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
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
A night market selling traditional handcraft work obstructed the
main road every evening. Bags, fibers and souvenirs. Mostly junk, in
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Hans-Peter Nilsson måndag, februari 12
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
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.
|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.
The earth is still cultivated by simple methods. I'm not aware
of what they are growing out here in the mountains.
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!
|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.
|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
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.
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
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.