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Beware random goop in the market

Winter Vacation 2008/2009 - Full day in Luang Prabang


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Today was our first full day in Luang Prabang. We rolled out of our room and had breakfast overlooking the Nam Kahn river. It was pleasant way to start our day. The first stop for our itinerary today was the local produce market. Even though the market was picked over (it starts at 5:30 am), we were able to see different foods than we’ve seen previously and enjoyed the walk through.

We went up and down the market three times. Half way through the first lap of the market I ran into problems with my foot. Every time I stepped I felt my left heel stick to my sandal. I stopped and saw some black goop on my heel that was acting like glue. I wanted to stop and pick it off, but it Buddhist countries it is EXTREMELY rude to point your feet at someone else. I was in a pickle: I couldn’t check the bottom of my feet with pointing them at someone. I had to tough it out. We made it to the end and I found a patch of grass and wiped the bottom of my foot just like I had stepped in some dog poop. I was sooo distracted by the random goop on my foot I missed all the different food. Like this:

The chickens with the feet and heads still on.
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The frogs.
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The bats.
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The random rodent, perhaps a gopher. Perhaps something else.
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By the time we finished at the market, the sun had burned off the fog and it started to get hot out. We set out for a café for some coffee and some internetting. On the way we stopped at the Royal Palace Museum. Most people say if you see one thing in Luang Prabang, see the museum.
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Unfortunately for us, it was closed and we aren’t sure when it will be open again. We continued on to the café and ran into the Australian people we met at the cooking course in Chiang Mai. We chin wagged on the corner for a while. Then we went our separate ways and continued on to the café. We settled in for coffee, cheese and a baguette, which then turned into us ordering sandwiches for lunch.

After lunch we went and signed up for a Lao cooking course for tomorrow; we got the last couple of available spots. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Luang Prabang. We went into a few shops and stopped at Wat Nong Sikhounmuang.

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But then it got TOO hot. This situation required a return to our hotel to siesta.

After the siesta we decided to brave the trip up Phu Si. In Luang Prabang there is a large hill with a temple on the top and a few different temples or ruins on the way down (or up, depending on your approach). To get up to the top there are approximately 318 stairs (aside: after proofreading this last sentence, I remarked that there was nothing ‘approximate’ about the number 318. Andrew insisted upon leaving it in. ~CW). We took it slow and stopped to look at everything we could but we were still tired by the time we reached the top. However, some of the other people we saw looked like they were in pain or were going to die on their way up.

From the top there is an amazing, clear view of Luang Prabang.

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As well as the temple.

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We rested up top for a while to recuperate before our journey back down. Suffice it to say the journey down was a lot easier than the way up. We wandered around Luang Prabang before we settled on a restaurant for dinner. While at dinner we realized we have to change hotels tomorrow, even though we had no idea where our new hotel was. We figured it would be best to find our new hotel before we have to check in. A quick Google check sent us on our way. We located it quickly and easily, now we are set for tomorrow.

Once we found our hotel we were next to the night market.

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We enjoyed the laid back atmosphere from last night and decided to go through again. Even though much of the things were the same as last night we did find some new and different products. We didn’t buy much. After we got out of the market we strolled back to our hotel, we have to pack and get up early tomorrow morning. It’s cooking time, Laos style.

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Posted by agc_cwm 19:56 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Entertaining immigration officers the world over

Winter Vacation 2008/2009 - to Luang Prabang, Laos


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Today was our last day in Chiang Mai. We left for Luang Prabang this afternoon. Our flight wasn’t until 3:00 pm which meant our morning was full of errands, laundry, sending souvenirs home, and exchanging books. It wasn’t an exciting morning but a necessary one.

We got a tuk-tuk to the airport for a hundred baht (the driver wasn’t budging on his price). He dropped us off at the airport and we went through all the checks to board our Laos Airline flight to Luang Prabang. If the 777 from our first day of vacation was a ghetto plane, this plane was an abandoned ghetto plane. It was a school bus with wings. There were about fifty seats on the plane. They had to board the plane from the rear because there was no access door at the front of the plane. I figure the only door up front led to the cockpit. There was also only one flight attendant on the plane. She got help from a man in a uniform; I hope it wasn’t the pilot. After a short one hour flight we arrived safely in Laos.

The visa to enter for Canadians cost US$42 and everyone else was about US$35. Courtney said she read that Canada charges an exorbitant amount for Laotians going into Canada and this is retribution. We were waiting at the counter to get our passports back when the immigration officers broke out into laughter, and started passing a passport around for everyone to look at. For some reason, they found Courtney’s passport photo to be hilarious. Looking at crazy passport photos has to be a highlight for the border guards.

We got picked up and checked in to our hotel which overlooks the river. Our hotel owner’s family owns and operates buildings all along this street. His sister runs an English college, his uncle has another guest house. It’s a whole family affair.

We sat for a bit then wandered into Luang Prabang. It’s a small city, 26,000 people, which you can easily walk around. We wandered for a bit trying to get our bearings. It was easier than in Chiang Mai. We paused at this wat up the street; the lighting was excellent.
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On our walk we were struck by hunger pangs and picked the closest restaurant. This one was overlooking the Mekong River.

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I also got visited by a stray cat that crawled up and fell asleep on the chair next to me.

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After dinner we strolled. Laung Prabang is a sleepy town compared to Chaing Mai. The vibe is very low-key and relaxed. The streets aren’t crowded with motorcycles and tuk-tuks and there are a lot more families and children going about their business. We sauntered through the night market and weren’t harassed or asked to buy too many things. I had to GO really bad, I mean really bad, which forced us to stop and buy some dessert. A nice caramel and banana dessert. Then it was back to our hotel.

Posted by agc_cwm 20:18 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

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