Winter Vacation 2008/09
01.03.2009 - 01.03.2009 26 °C
Other than sleeping in, we didn’t have any plans for this morning. But, as a result of circumstances beyond our control, our plans were foiled. To start with, our room was on the second floor of our hotel, right next to the balcony that housed the restaurant; if you opened our curtains you could see what people were munching for breakfast. On top of this, across the hall from our room were the stairs. This all became a problem because, in Luang Prabang, every morning at 5:00, the monks do a circuit around the city receiving alms, donations of rice, from people lining the streets. They arrive in front of our hotel at 5:30. Naturally this is a major tourist attraction for the city and the balcony with the restaurant provides an ideal vantage point from which to view the monks when they walk in front of our hotel. I figured everyone going to see the monks decided to talk really loudly, slam their doors, and stamp down the stairs to make sure everyone else was awake. This would have been fine if we had wanted to get up, but we didn’t. Thankfully we did get back to sleep for a little bit after the ruckus. Once we did get up we asked them to move us to a new room. Hopefully our new room will be quieter than last night.
Once we got moving, we went to the La Poste and sent home a parcel with containing our purchases. We weren’t keen on carrying them in our backpacks.
Our next stop was the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center. The TAEC is a non-profit organization designed to promote understanding, appreciation and preservation of Laos’ ethnic minorities. In Laos there are seven main ethnic groups, with many more sub-groups. In the past the groups were divided based on where people lived: lowlands, foothills, or high in the mountains. Except, for various reasons, people have had to move around so the people who traditionally lived in the mountains now live in the plains. Which raised the question, did they switch ethnic groups when they moved? They obviously didn’t. Now the different ethnic groups are identified by linguistic differences. The museum had exhibits showcasing traditional dress of the different ethnic groups and displays about weaving, textiles or other things the groups are famous for.
When we were at the desk trying to buy our tickets I saw a sign on the wall with the prices for guided tours: $25 with the museum director and $15 with museum staff. Then I noticed a sign on the desk saying there were free tours with staff trainees. This sounded good to me and we got ourselves a free tour of the museum. We wouldn’t have known if he was a trainee or not; it was an outstanding tour, the guide was quite knowledgeable, and the experience made the visit a lot for informative.
After we went to the museum we were starving and had to get some lunch: pizza and a hamburger at the Scandinavian Bakery. Nice Western food.
After lunch, Courtney was on the hunt for a shawl and spent the next hour or so poking through shops for one. I instead found a coffee shop and sat with my book while she hunted. She found her shawl and we moved on the big wat again. Unlike the other day we went, today the sky was nice, clear and bright blue, which would hopefully help improve Court’s pictures. I sat myself on a bench and continued to read while she took pictures around the grounds.
We were planning to stop by Big Brother Mouse to play with some kids but we were told the wrong day and nobody was at the shop. We continued on to our next plan: Laos-style barbecue.
For those of you familiar with Japanese food, Laos-style barbecue is a combination of nabe and yaki niku. In the middle of our table was a clay pot containing hot charcoals. The waiter came and put an aluminum pan on top. The pan had a trough running around the outside and the middle rose up into a cone-shape with small vents to grill the meat (all told, it kind of had the shape of a citrus juicer). The waiter heated a soup stock in the trough then put the vegetables in the stock to cook. Then on the slopes of the cone he put some of the meat to grill. Once he got it started he left it in our hands. It was an excellent feast.
While we were eating a little black and white puppy started poking around our table. It was a cute little thing. At one point the strap on Court’s camera bag was hanging down and the puppy came and started to chew on it. It also started to chew on the tabs on the back of Court’s shoes. Then a bigger dog came along and the puppy decided to play with it. I don’t think the bigger dog was keen on playing with the puppy. The big dog pinned the puppy once or twice and tried to pick up the dog by the scruff of its neck a few times. Eventually the big dog just wandered off.
After the BBQ we made our way back to the hotel to prepare for our adventure tomorrow. Here’s a shot of some shirts in the markets.
And some coconuts.