There really is an importent meeting point in Luang Prabang. A place were almost every foreigner can be seen, especially those, who travel longer than just a few weeks. Directly next to the market…. it’s the place where you can buy delicious sandwiches, real sandwiches, crispy fresh baguette in different styles and after we leave the Tuk Tuk there is no other choice than to go there directly. Nothing else matters anymore. It’s really wonderful to enjoy something like this after months of mainly rice meals. Yummy, we like this place.
Lots of guesthouses are around and again we decide for a cheap and basic one. Although it’s okay we decide to move the next day to another one that seems to offer better price quality ratio. But unfortunately we don’t know a detail about the place yet. I’m going to tell later on.
After we met Rafael again he decides to join the city tour Seven and I had planned for the next day. So we meet in the morning, have sandwiches for breakfast and go for some sightseeing with view point, monastery, bamboo bridge, national museum and other places recommended for tourists. To get an impression of the ceremonies of the local Buddhist monks Seven asks in the monastery if there is a possibility to join the chanting and meditation. In the late afternoon we sit behind the monks in one of the temples while they are chanting. Again a special experience.
Another place near Luang Prabang, that although obviously very touristic but nevertheless highly recommended by lots of people, who have been there, is the Kuang Si waterfall. After some confusion we share a minivan with 9 other people to go there and again Rafael is joining. On the way to the waterfall we pass a bear rescue station, that offers new homes for maltreated bears. As far as we can tell they really seem to care about those animals and their wellbeing. The waterfall itself is really beautiful even with a lot of people. But the more you go the way up the less people are around and you can walk through the forest until the waterfalls origin. A funny lao guy is running a small restaurant there, a cozy place with electronic music and I cannot help but need to dance while Seven tries to cross the small river on a tree trunk without falling into the water. The traditional Lao ballet we visit in the evening especially stays in our mind because of the cute presenter, the funny wrong singing lady and the talented monkey king. I’m really touched by these guy. There obviously seems to be very little money in Laos especially to support art and theater but the artists passion is feelable.
Laos present situation is not easy. One of the still remaining problems are hidden UXOs (unexploded ordnance). Between 1964 and 1973 the country was a target of US military because of the Vietnam war and became the most heavily bombed nation in the world, additionally UXOs are left from the time of French colonial era and World War 2. Luang Prabang does have an UXO visitor center (http://www.luangprabang-laos.com/Visit-UXO-Laos-center) and we go there to get some deeper knowledge about what happened and the current situation. Different kind of bombs can be seen and education papers and films are offered. No entry fee is charged for the visitors but it’s possible to donate for the Lao national unexploded ordnance program. We leave the place with some feeling of dejection.
Another project we heard about and want to get further information of is the Lao Friends Hospital for Children. It is financed and organized by Friends without a border (http://www.fwab.org/). The organization runs an information center in Luang Prabang and was founded by a Japanese man to improve medical supplies for children in southeastasia. Two hospitals have been build until now, the first one in Cambodia, the second one outside Luang Prabang. The organization offers health care for children and education for the local medical stuff and people, who come for treatment. We ask for possibilities to volunteer but unfortunately at the end it doesn’t fit with our travel plans and visa regulations. But it seems to be a quite serious, responsible organization.
One highlight of our stay in Luang Prabang becomes the evening this day with “Chang – A Drama of the Wilderness” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang:_A_Drama_of_the_Wilderness), a movie made in the 1920s and the first documentary about people and life in the Laotian jungle. The silent film with music played by a traditional Lao orchestra is presented by “Cinema Tuk Tuk” k http://www.cinema-tuktuk.org/) in one of Luang Prabangs restaurants and really impressive work, especially after you know how close the filmmakers must have been to the dangerous animals like tigers and leopards. The movie is also shown in small villages around Laos to increase awareness for nature and wildlife. Also no entry fee must be paid but donation is welcome. A nice French guy gives some introduction and answers questions after the movie. Unfortunately just a few guests are here. We really liked it. Adoveronally it’s an interesting project to bring movie art and education to small local villages.
The next night ends early in the morning around 4:30. I haven’t been sleeping the whole night. The walls of the wooden house we have our room in seems to be full of rats and they are very busy in the night time. You can hear them running around and I’m scared that they will enter our room. Early in the morning I give up getting some rest and leave the room. Seven is joining and we take our cups, prepare 2 coffees and take a seat at Mekong river. Some locals already do their morning tasks like carrying fruits and vegetables they broad over the river to the restaurants. To carry these stuff they use a stick of bamboo with two baskets, each on every side, and put it on their shoulder. It’s really heavy and the baskets are shaking. Seven tries to do it and for the first time he’s not doing bad. After enjoying the coffee we take a walk over the morning market passing frogs and other “special” food and meet with Sebastién we know from Wat Tham Wua Monastery. It’s really nice to see him again. After some preparation and a relaxed afternoon in the famous bar “Utopia”, which is nice but, of course, a place for tourists, we leave Luang Prabang in the evening in the night bus to Vientiane….. after having one last baguette :-).