Sunday, January 23, 2011

D5-6 Wed & Thur 12-13/1/2011 Luang Prabang, Laos

Hostel: Xayana Guest House - US$4.50x2 nights (dorm)=US$9.00
Bus: Vientiane>Luang Prabang-B600+B580=B1,180 (plus a free lunch voucher)
Bangkok>Kuala Lumpur - B450

Food: 81,000kip (B327)
Entrance fee: 50,000kip (B202)
Tuk-tuk: 15,000kip (B60)
Sundries: B410
Total expenses incurred: B2,629 + US$9.00=Rm303

The arduous bus journey through mountainous roads from Vientiane to Luang Prabang took a full day so by the time I checked into Xayana Guest House (US4.50 dorm), it was late evening. After a warm shower, I had a dinner in a local noodle stall and spent sometime at the Handicraft market - all within walking distance from the guest house.

The following day, I spent my time exploring the Luang Prabang town, the former royal capital now a UNESCO site and visited the morning market, the Royal Palace museum, Phu Si, Wat Pao Phon Phao, the Mekong river banks, temples & stupas etc.

Foreign tourists mainly from Western countries were seen in most of the tourist sites in Luang Prabang. I must confess I thoroughly enjoyed my stays in Luang Prabang - no regret coming here !

1) Scenic landscape from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, the moutainous northern Laos - an 11 hr bus ride (380km) through winding hilly terrains; sea of clouds enveloping the mountain range in the early morning

2) Tasty Street food - I had a grilled Mekong river fish and sticky rice wrapped with banana leaf for dinner (22,000kips=B90) , pork noodles (13,000kips) & seafood fried rice (13,000kips=B52) for lunch

3) Talat Dala, Luang Prabang oldest market - not a bad start for a morning walk to get a feel of the hustle and bustle of the place

4) Handicraft Market - long stretch of stalls selling handicaft items, T-shirts, souvenirs etc

5) Mekong river - for those who are adventurous, you may opt for a Mekong river cruise to nearby villages on the banks of Mekong or limestone caves upstream; enjoy a cup of coffee or local meal at a riverside restaurant

6) French colonial buildings vs locally built houses alongside the Mekong river banks & down town

7) Royal Palace Museum & Haw Prabang - entrance ticket (30,000kips=B120) - shoes off and no photography, built in 1904 during the French colonial era, artifacts, gifts, art , royal portraits, elephant tusk objects etc were on display

8) Phu Si - entrance ticket (20,000kips-B80) - a steep limestone hill, walked pass the decaying Wat Pa Huak, a 24m high stupa & a cave shrine. From the hill top, you can have a panoramic view of Luang Prabang town

9) Wat Pa Phon Phao - a forest meditation wat, impressive architectural design

10) Wat Visounnarath - built in 1513 and rebuilt in 1890's

11) Wats, temples & stupas in Luang Prabang - a class of it's own

12) Saffron-robed monks returning to their temples after seeking alms from donors; you have to wake up before six in the morning to witness this activity

I spotted this World Peace Gong behind Patuxai (Victory Gate), Vientiane. May peace continues to prevail in this earth. I really enjoyed my stay in Laos - a peaceful country in the making !

Hopefully with the completion of the trans-Asian rail links from China>Laos>Thai, this will bring faster economic progress & development to Laos & Northern Thailand.

After Laos, my next target is Myanmar, the last of the Asean country I yearn to see "

" Life is an echo; all comes back, the good, the bad, the false and the true. So give the world the best you have and the best will come back to you "

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