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Luang Prabang

September 4th, 2009

Luang Prabang was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name and, until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of Laos. It’s a beautiful little town, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a population of around one hundred thousand. It sits on a bend in the Mekong river around 425km north of Vientianne.

We spent a couple of nights in Luang Prabang and could probably have spent quite a few more. Along with the gorgeous restaurants, excellent nightly street market and absurdly clean streets Luang Prabang is surrounded by stunning countryside just waiting to be explored.

On our first day we all went, as a group, on a short trek up in to the mountains and rainforest to make our way to a set of waterfalls. It’s possible to simply drive to the waterfalls but the trek that we took really gave you a sense of remoteness, with nobody else taking the same path. In fact our guide carried a knife in order to cut through the rainforest at certain points. As is the case with many of my stories you really had to be there but hopefully some of my pictures do it justice. The water, once we’d got to the waterfall, was breathtakingly clear and similarly cold but in those temperatures it’s exactly what you want.

Stunning Waterfall

For our first night in Luang Prabang we had dinner down a little side street where you could get a chicken breast or fish cooked for you on the spot and then grab as much salad/noodles as you liked from another stand. We then went off to quite a cool little bar before going bowling in the weirdest bowling place ever.

Our second day in Luang Prabang saw the boys and girls split up to do pretty much the same activities. The girls would go kayaking and elephant riding while the guys opted for mountain biking and then hardcore(ish) kayaking. We took off on the bikes like mad men. Having spent a few days not really doing any hardcore exercise we well and truly made up for it. The poor guide spent most of the trip a good few hundred metres behind us trying to keep up. About half way through the bike ride we were slighlty bemused, if not worried, to see an unexploded ordnance clearing team on the road. Feeling that they should probably be ahead of us we carried on regardless and hoped we wouldn’t come a cropper. As a side note the bombs are the remains from the Vietnam war. Although Laos did not exactly feature in the war they apparently had an agreement with the Americans whereby they got something (I’m not sure) in exchange for letting the Americans drop all of their unused payload before landing. As a result Laos is the most heavily bombed country of all time. I can’t remember the number exactly but it’s phenominal. Anyway, we finished the trip with a kayaking session down the river, which had no rapids, and was basically 3 hours of pain. It was knackering.

Author: Mark Jerzykowski Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
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