After a very bumpy uphill windy road from Vang Vieng I arrived in Luang Prabang at the minivan station. Where I am then loaded into a tuk tuk awaiting others who are arguing over the price when it is obvious they don’t have any other options. Then to find out these idiots don’t even have reservations, so they are arguing a price to nowhere. Then then decided to follow me to my hostel. Once we arrive they are informed that my hostel is completely booked. So there are some advantages to having things researched and pre booked.
After checking into my room I join an amazing group of travels led by a great guy from Israel. He had just gotten out of the military and is traveling the world. He shared that he is one of a triplet set and that his brother is an Orthodox Jew and his sister is already married with children. He is the adventurous black sheep. He had made friends with a great group of women that I really enjoyed. We went to Utopia, a cool bar that overlooks the Nam Kahn River. We got mats looking over the river and I ordered the local fried seaweed appetizer with eggplant dip.
I then decided to head out and walk to the night market. After shopping I rejoined everyone for a relaxing card game and drinks. Then headed to my dorm room for bed. Where I woke up hot in the middle of the night listening to a very sick lesbian couple coughing all night. Then the guy above me rolled over and around 15 individual 1 baht coins fell on my head! I was pissed! Needless to say I switched rooms in the morning. The following night was fabulous. The last night was followed by a father daughter team who were also coughing sick and the old dad snored all night.
On my second day I got up early and did a walking tour of this amazing ancient city. the UNESCO Town Of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site. It was listed in 1995 for unique and “remarkably” well preserved architectural, religious and cultural heritage, a blend of the rural and urban developments over several centuries, including the French colonial influences during the 19th and 20th centuries. I toured the Palace and many famous temples. Then I took a nice walk along the Mekong River. After lunch I did some antique shopping in the old district. This is truly an amazing little walkable city. The heat then got to me so I decided to take a nice nap.
After my nap I went to dinner at a nice restaurant on the other side of the Nam Kahn River that I was going to take an ancient bamboo bridge across. Only to discover it was being rebuilt so the restaurant had a boat that delivered you across the river for free. As I was about to get on the boat I met two super nice women. They had just met each other as the one woman a professor of Anthropology at Fresno State had recognized the other woman, a famous Laotian Chef from Washington DC, Seng Luangrath. They were both born in refugee camps from Laos. And are both a testament to how great a country the United States is and how anyone can fulfill their dreams.
The meal was vibrant and fabulous. Along with a beautiful view. I then headed to the national theatre at the Palace to watch a traditional dance theater show that I had purchased a $15 ticket to watch. It was beautiful but a tad bit boring.
After the Theater I ran into three guys I shared a taxi with in Chaing Mai. They invited me to join them to go out with a huge group to have cocktails and go to a couple of bars. After having 4 cocktails 2 shots and a beer I was ready to go to bed. So I politely wished everyone good night as they all headed to the bowling alley. The thing to do after the bars close at 11pm in Luang Prabang. Everyone goes drunk bowling and it is supposedly a sight to see. Since I had booked a tour early in the morning I wanted to get to bed.
The next morning I was gathered for my tour. I had no idea what I signed up for. After an hour ride in a minivan I was ushered directly onto an elephant. For an elephant ride with a random women from Hong Kong. I really wasn’t into it and didn’t want a bunch of photos with this random woman. After returning I asked for individual photos with the elephant. Which they let me do. I suppose the other people just assumed I payed extra as they didn’t ask if they could do this.
We then were ushered onto a boat a ridden to the Buddha Cave. After hiking up to the caves we got back onto the boats for lunch back with the elephants.
We were then rushed into the minivans to a whisky village then to the most beautiful waterfall I had ever seen. We had 2 hours at the waterfall before we had to leave for the 2 hour drive back.
On the drive back we stopped at a Hmong Village. The dumbest saddest thing I’ve ever experienced. These are people not zoo animals!!!! We walked through their village and their lives as their children tried to hawk their goods to the tourists winding through the village snapping photos of people’s evenings activities. Like bathing, getting haircuts, cooking, playing and being stared at like zoo animals. My heart was pissed off at the people in my tour group and saddened by these impoverished children. I got some bracelets at $1 each, enough money to feed a family for a day. While these stupid tourists were haggling over a dollar with these people. It’s only a flipping dollar to you!!! Give them extra not less than they are asking. They live in dirt floor huts while you have a $5 cocktail at the end of the day! Why is this ok in third world countries? We don’t have tourists parading through our homeless shelters in the US. I don’t tour Syrian refugee camps in Germany. Why do people want to visit the most impoverished in third world countries? Does it make the feel like they got to experience how the people “really ” live. Idiots!!! People really live in cities and work like you but without all the luxuries. Your not visiting a middle class family to compare the differences between their life and yours. That’s a cultural experience! Not visiting the poorest of a country! I’m so done with these idiots.
I had to return to my hostel and go have a few beers after ranting to my roommates. I then decided to just enjoy a cup of tea and pastry at a French Bistro instead of joining everyone for another night out. I needed to process my day and how I was feeling.
The next morning I had an early flight out and was walking to find a tuk tuk at 5am in the dark to take me to the airport. I was sad to leave this beautiful ancient city.