Sunday, March 16, 2008

Luang Prabang

The bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was pretty with mountains on both sides of the road which helped the 6 or 7 hours go by. I seemed to handle the long bus rides better at the start of the trip and the longer I travel the harder they seem to be. I would have thought it would be the other way around that after 6 months of travel I would get accustom to the long bus rides.

The guidebook talked about the long line of monks getting alms in Luang Prabang and it was something that I wanted to see. The book was a little vague on when it took place so I set my alarm for 5AM in the morning and was out on the street at 5:30AM waiting to see this spectacular sight. Finally at about 6:45AM I saw a line of about 12 monks.

I found it sort of interesting but kept thinking I got up at 5AM to see only 12 guys. A few minutes went by and then I noticed a line of orange coming down the street.

I think this line of orange had to be somewhere around a 100 monks or more. Giving alms is giving food to the monks which they live on. I did not walk the complete circuit but did not seem like there where that many people giving alms and with each one only giving a small bit of rice or other things to each monk. I hope they get food from other places or they don’t eat very well.

After watching the monks for awhile I went back and caught up on my sleep before walking around the town visiting the different temples. I also visited the Royal Palace Museum and usually when visiting a building like this I find the furnishing nice but mostly nothing that I think I would like to have. The one thing in the palace that I thought would be nice to have was the King's bed.

There is no longer a royal family in Laos since it is now a communist country. I read a bulletin board on one of the guesthouses while walking around town that had some info on Laos and one of the things it said was that some people earned less then 10,000 Kip a day. The usual price I was paying for a Beer Lao was 10,000 Kip or just a little bit less than one Euro. It always surprises me how little some people live on and am not sure if I should buy more beer to put more money into the economy or if I should be ashamed of drinking the daily salary of someone.

I also walk up to That Chomsi which is a pagoda on top of a large hill in the center of the town. It was a bit of a hike up all the stairs but it had a great view over the town. It also has a footprint that is said to be Buddha’s. I am not sure how they know it is from Buddha.

I did a tour one day that was a boat ride up the Mekong to a cave (Tham Ting Pak Ou) full of Buddha statues and then to a waterfall. The boat ride was about 3 hours up the river and an hour and an hour and a half coming back. I was really glad I did the boat trip even though I was not that impressed with the cave we visited. One reason I was glad about doing the boat trip was I enjoyed the scenery from the boat and secondly it gave me a sample of what a longer boat ride would be like. I was planning on taking a boat from Luang Prabang to the Thai border. The 4 1/2 hours on the boat made me decided I did not want to do a 2 day trip on a boat like this and booked a flight to Thailand the following day.

Here is a picture from the boat ride.

After the boat trip the tour went to Kuang Si Waterfalls. I found this waterfall really impressive and I think it was the thing I enjoyed the most of all in Luang Prabang. This was another tiered waterfall with swimming in the lower sections and maybe also from highest section. I did not make it to the very top of the waterfall but only to the top of this tier.

This is the 2 views from the highest point to which I made it.

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