When I got to Luang Prabang I liked it immediately. The central part of it is compact – you can walk round it quickly in an hour. It lies at the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, at the foothills of the surrounding mountains. There are paddy fields on the other side of the river, the streets are small, clean and surrounded by lovely temples (even if you are like me and don’t go and visit them). If you want to do something a little more adventurous, there’s a plethora of travel and tour companies tempting your wallet for anything from motorbike rentals, waterfall visits, day trips, to treks, rafting, mountain biking and climbing.
When I arrived I had a massage at the Red Cross and was already tempted by their notice asking for volunteers wishing to dedicate a few days over a 2 week period to help them out with English and a couple of local projects. Later the first night I was speaking to a Canadian who runs White Elephant Tours about climbing, and before I knew it he said to me to see what I thought of the place over the next few days, and if I liked it, he would speak to me about a potential role, as he was looking for someone to help him with his projects…Vang Vieng is meant to be the outdoors place here, so if I like it here this much….!
Previously I was looking for somewhere to stop off for a few weeks to chill out, and this could well be the place. There is enough to wander around in town, you can hire bikes, and there is loads to do around if you get bored, and the night market has some beatiful handicrafts (mainly silk) without the hard sell of places like Chaing Mai, and I’m sure most of this stuff is made by the people actually selling it. Unfortunately my calendar isn’t quite as big as I would like as I have to try and do as much of Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as Laos, before mid December – I could easily kill that time just in Laos. The Red Cross thing is very tempting as it would let me have more interaction with the locals. I’ve spent days just wandering around, going to a couple of photo exhibitions that are on, and generally slowing down to the pace of the place.
Yesterday my sister, hubby and I took a small day trip through a couple of villages of the Mong Laos people. There are three main types of Laos people very basically divided into whether they live in high or middle mountain, or the cities. After my time in Sabah, it’s this stuff I really enjoy – wandering around the basic villages, interacting with the people, seeing their way of life, and hoping to walk away with some half decent photographs. Our bus was mobbed as we passed a school, and the people in the other two villages were happy to share their time with us, surely helped by the fact our guide was of Mong origin as well. From these we did a pretty uninteresting trek to the Tat Juang Si waterfall for a swim. It’s large muti tiered waterfall, 30km out of town, with a swimming area at the bottom. There’s also enclosures with a tiger and bears that are being rehabilitated.
And on the lighter side :
In the wonderful Vietnam Bar :
Getting back from the Vietnam Bar in the tuk-tuk :