Friday, June 29, 2007

Living it up in Laos

I must admit that it is hard not to have a good time in Laos, whether it is messing around in the mud and rain while cycling on granny bikes, or having a delicious dinner on the banks of the Mekong or just chilling out drinking a cuppa tea and finishing your book. We arrived in Laung Prabang, on another "VIP" bus. Ha ha ha, as we were rounding a mountain a whole row of seats just collapsed on the floor! Luckily there was no one hurt and it was funny at the time.

Laung Prabang is really pretty and a beautiful small town in northern Laos. Lindsay and I have really gotten into the swing of things and it's no wonder that we have already spent 5 days here exploring the Wats, the tiny streets and markets and the sites around the city by bicycle. Yesterday we went off to the Buddha caves, which are on the banks of the Mekong, in cliffs of limestone and contain old Buddhas which have been damages, it's like Buddha's eternal resting place. Up the stairs to the caves, small children were trying to sell us everything from a tarantula on a piece of string to stones. We were a bit puzzled about the religious significance of these objects but none the less they were trying their best "You buy? Lucky-lucky, good for Buddha, good for you". When you are not at a religious site this chant changes to "You buy? Lucky-lucky, good for you, good for me".....

On other hand we have been living according to the advice of the official Laos Guide Book....
Coffee: "After 11am you will only find Nescafe red cup which is to be avoided"
Health: Fear not. You are not in the back woods of south America where you are never sure which Gomez or Sanchez pharmacy will be open for business...."Tiger Bites? Very bad, especially in the rainy season. You will be comforted to know that your family will read about you in their daily newspapers." and "Mosquito bites. Beware of the females. Paludism and dengue fever is waiting to pounce." and "Hepatitis, Japanese encephalitis: if you have not been vaccinated, it is too late for you."
Internet: "No bug. For 1000 kip you can even keep in touch with your mother in Europe! Isn't that nice?"

This morning we did some more watting, as we had saved the best wat til last - an amazing temple, covered in gold leaf, stencil designs and with mosaics covering the outside walls. Extremely beautiful. After another hot day, we set off up the mountain to a waterfall with a series of blue, blue pools to swim in. Ahhh! It was so nice to be cold again and to feel refreshed. while we were in the forest we also visited the Asiatic black bear and tiger rescue centre where the animals have been rescued during illigal animal trading and poaching. it was really good to see the animals being kept wild, in huge enclosures and being reabilitated back into the wild.

At the moment we have been prowling the streets of the town, approaching strangers to enquire whether anyone wants to join us on our intrepid adventure to Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars. We are trying to avoid a 9 hour bus journey by going by minibus, but I suspect that most people think we are mad to go, as most people's first question is "Where?" - not a good start.... But we will find some fellow travelers. Buddha we look out for us and we have put up a sign in the travel agent's window. Otherwise it is going to be one long bus journey tomorrow and a very sore bum.

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