Luang Prabang, Lao Peoples Dem Rep
We came back to Luang Prabang for two reasons. The first was to experience New Year, the second to finish a cinnamon bun we started just over a year ago at JoMa’s. The Lao and Thai New Year is from 13th-15th April and from what I can gather involves a lot of drinking and throwing water around. We had a leisurely breakfast and were on the road before 10am determined to find a charity called Big Brother Mouse who translate children’s’ books into Lao and give the books to Lao kids.
Thus providing both education and instilling the reading habit. The office was really nearby so we popped in – it had been closed last year when we visited. Then we walked like mad dogs and Englishmen for an hour in extremely high temperature so by the time we hit JoMa’s we were dehydrated and delirious, JoMa’s is a bakery and cafe on the southern end of Luang Prabang and we’d had an abortive breakfast there last year. So I owed Elly the second half of one of their cinnamon buns. A word on Lao currency. The Kip is basket case currency like the Turkish lira and whatever passes for currency these days in Zimbabwe. There are currently 17,500 to the pound or about 9,000 to the dollar. The problem is that the largest note I’ve seen is 20,000 so you end up carrying kilos of it around with you. I cashed a few hundred dollars and am now a millionaire many times over. But carrying over 3 million Kip makes you feel like Harry Enfield in Loads of Money.
So I end up ‘flashing my wad’ even when buying a Sprite. We sat at JoMa’s for a good half hour and managed to restore most of the lost fluid. As women don’t sweat all I can say is that Elly was glowing like forest fire. Then off to lunch at a restaurant called Tamarind. This mean dodging the kids with the hoses and water pistols. Chucking water at strangers is supposed to bring them good luck, so Elly and I got very lucky on the way to lunch. We had a great Lao lunch of lettuce wraps filled with local herbs and vegetables and Niam a series of dips eaten with sticky rice. It was excellent and washed down with a lime and lemon grass granita we felt human again. Bill for two about $8 Then back to the 3 Nagas where I wrote the blog and Elly chilled. Then I headed out to catch some hardcore water throwing action and back for a long shower. Then dinner on the main street near the night market – spicy beer with sticky rice, chicken and noodles, BeerLao (naturally) for about $9 for two. Luang Prabang geography. LP is a tiny peninsula, narrow and vertical running north south at the junction of the Mekong river and a tributary. It is 5 streets wide with the river on both sides.
The main street is probably just under a mile long running from the Post Office to the French memorial at the northern tip. All of the major temples and sites are found here. TukTuks can be found every 100 feet or so in case the heat has robbed your legs of the will to go another step. On the eastern side of the main street is Mount Phousi which contains a temple and reputedly great views from the top but frankly we don’t have the energy for the climb at the moment.