Wherein we both step out of our comfort zones..

Posted on October 11, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Hello All

We arrived in Vientiane last night, straight into the bosom of our family. But more shall come of that later. For now I shall try to explain both our trip down the Mekong and the lovely Luang Prabang, all in the one gargantuan post. Phew!

So, the Mekong trip was an experience, and we're glad we did it. The boat on the first day was fine, it had its own cushions so ours were just a bonus! We chatted with some other farangs (tourists), played cards, read and looked at the beautiful scenery.

 There were about two thirds farangs and one third locals, who got on and off at various random stops along the riverbank, seemingly in the middle of nowhere! We stayed the night in a place called Pak Beng, which essentially lives off the boats that stop overnight there, and because of that it was a bit of a scrum! It was quite basic (No electricity after 10pm for example) but fine. One thing that it did have going for it is that the restaurant we ate at Played. Real. Music. !! For two music lovers who didn't bring any music with them, that was heaven.  The second day the boat was different, far smaller and more cramped, but with the same number of people, so that was more tedious. Oh, and there were no cushions! The scenery was wonderful though. 

We got to Luang Prabang at about 5.30pm on the second day, and promptly fell in love with the place. It was the night before Bun Awk Phansa, a light festival to celebrate the end of the rainy season, so the town was all lit up and there was excitement in the air. The festival itself was a beautiful affair, one of my favourite parts of the trip so far. Families and neighbourhoods make boats and offerings lit with candles, and sail them down the river in the evening.

We sat at a wine bar on the side of the main road and watched the parade go by, and then had dinner on the side of the Mekong and watched the offerings travel down the river. Wonderful.

But when did you guys go out of your comfort zones I hear you ask? Well, let me elaborate. James first. When in Luang Prabang we went to visit the Kuang Si waterfalls, about 30km from the city. Here is a picture of same:

Family; this pic is for you, doesn't it look like Powerscourt from this angle?

But the cool thing about this waterfall is that it takes ages to go down the mountain and there are lots of natural swimming pools created. Its very pretty and fun also. So, James was going into one of the pools and the water was very cold. So he decided, I kid you not, to jump in from the top of the little waterfall that fed into the pool. I was shocked, and the locals who watched him psych himself up as others walked by him and jumped in were amused! But for those of you who are skeptical (I'm looking at you, Bells) I have photographic evidence! Behold!

As always, there are more pics on Flickr. Just click on the picture to get in.

So how did I step out of my comfort zone? Ladies and gentlemen, I got up early, of my own accord, to look at some religion.  You can all close your gaping mouths, it's unseemly.  One of the  traditions in much of the Buddhist world, and especially Luang Prabang, is almsgiving to the monks. The monks have no possessions and no money, so the locals give alms of food very morning. We got up at 5.30am and went to watch. It is considered perfectly acceptable to watch or take part, as long as you are respectful and follow the rules of respect. We went.

It was humbling to see the devotion of the locals to their monks, and a very interesting way to start the day (who am I kidding; I went back to bed!)

The other way I stepped out of my comfort zone was to take a shower with a cockroach. But that's another story ;)

James will fill you in on the rest of Luang Prabang. His photos of Laos so far are here; http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarcas/sets/72157622527461084/

Right now I must go enjoy Vientiane, and the clan.
Take care all,

Posted via email from dreadpiratesarcas


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