A bumping journey only made enjoyable by the passing landscape. God damn it’s beautiful here. Laughing at the dried frog snack the driver stops to get and how each hut, no matter how old and small it seemed, is fitted with a satellite dish.
We descended into a valley accompanied by the acrid stench of burning brakes and came upon the incredibly beautiful town of Luang Prabang nestled in a valley amongst the mountains and rivers. A luxury or two were planned for this part of the trip for Emmily’s birthday, beginning with our check in to an amazing boutique hotel called Ramayana. Set amongst lush gardens our room was large and immaculately furnished. A small veranda area had a hammock shaped like a boat and large wooden doors with the large curving hands Emm loved as the handles. Inside our room was a large open living space with dark wood interior and furniture to match. Lamps made from branches, lite silk curtains before the huge bed and a beautiful bathroom.
A Buddhist Monastery was our next door neighbour, it’s morning drums heard pounding in the twilight hours. Markets surrounded our hotel from all sides, especially at night when they took over the main street creating a tunneled labyrinth of colorful wares. We found a couple of real monkeys skulls plated with silver and bejewelled to look even scarier than the original bone. Emmily’s birthday soon arrived and we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel before beginning the ascent of Phu Si. A mountain in the centre of town containing a number of temples and shrines. Still beautifully forested it is a wonder to see. At the summit lies a tangled path leading to the largest temple which is built on the site of a footprint of Buddha. The footprint itself was huge making us wonder whether Buddha had become some sort of giant Godzilla like creature by this point. Buddha statues abound in various shapes and sizes and even for different days of the week. An old gun emplacement is also still there making a bit of fun for Dotahn. Many monks laze around the area in bright orange drapes and the views are stunning.
Lunch beside the river was made all the more fun as a puppy tried to have Dotahn for lunch. After our meal we headed to the Spa Garden where Emmily had a rigorous four hours of pampering. The crowning achievement was dinner. We headed down to the river and descended a stone staircase with chains of light leading to a small boat waiting for us. Rowed across the wide river lazily in the dark the boatman sings to himself. Walking up a small trail through the forest up the hill we find out restaurant. We were led to our table which was a private platform with views over the river, little lamps and a great collection of music playing. We had cocktails, a tasting plate of Laos delicacies, fish and morning glory. Deliciousness!!
More temples, endless markets making us stoop for ever along the streets. An elderly monk sat in the gutter draped in orange, smoking a huge joint rolled from the pages of a book. Many movies, sleeping in and card games all added to the lethargy. Sitting in the markets in the evenings we eat a generous vegetarian buffet at wooden slat tables accompanied by Laos travellers. Laos travellers seem to be a little different to those elsewhere, a lot more hippies and nature junkies. We giggle at nearby conversations about how to make bread the real way. Apparently it isn’t real bread unless you grind the flour yourself. In the morning as we head down the back streets which held the previous nights food markets we are horrified by the flys and the mess. Food is everywhere and we are once again happy that we stuck with the vegetarian food.