Laos > Luang Prabang
LUANG PRABANG, 03 Oct 2009
Second day in Luang Prabang and I belatedly inspect the rules of the hotel glued to the wall of the room, issued by the local police, no less. Lemme see … hmmmm … Rule #1: yup, there’s a curfew in Laos – people should be indoors by midnight, thus nightspots should be closed in time. Rule #5: in fact, sexual relationship between a foreigner and a Lao citizen is a crime, unless legally married. Rule #6: no movie-making, okay!
Great weather, so another town walkabout looks good.
Breakfast first, in a garden-like outdoor cafe. Nice touch, the Laotians are learning from the Thais, I see.
Sculpted fruits, simple idea but cool.
Ready for another walk, I scrutinise the town map. Our hotel is just left of the post office, so I thought we should walk to the Mekong river bank and stroll eastwards all the way to the spot where the Khan River meets the Mekong.
The Mekong is always impressive, especially in broad daylight. That’s the 10th longest waterway in the world, born in the glacial area of Tibet.
So where exactly is Luang Prabang in relation to the 4800km-long Mekong? See the blue ‘x’ in the map below for orientation.
Across the Mekong, there’s the village of Ban Xieng Maen, some say preserved since the 14th century. I hate river-crossing, so I give it a pass.
The bank of the Mekong is indeed lively, where macho men, anxious about their libidos, gulp snake wine, at RM2 per shot. Such wine is also popular in Vietnam.
No kidding, real (dead) critters in them jars. To wake up your little fella (or so they claim), will you go for it?
Meanwhile, a slender passenger boat with 2 side engines glides past, sans life-vests.
Behind me a French-era house. Luang Prabang has lotsa old French buildings which are preserved with tender loving care, in addition to the 23 wats.
Further down the road, a convoy of Skodas from China take a breather. The Chinese border is less then 250km away to the north via the long Route 13, which traverses Laos north-south, not all of it paved and only recently declared as safe from bandit attacks.
I still see some interesting traffic on the river. A dual-hull ferry cum house?
Tourism-related businesses aplenty here, and this is a typical menu. Fancy a 30-hr road trip to Kunming, in a bus with beds?
More French building, still in pristine condition.
The river bank is dotted with eateries on wooden platforms – nice for viewing the famous river, especially in the breezy late afternoon as the sun sets.
A rice merchant awaits his first customers.
Then I spot something truly interesting – an original US Army jeep, a relic of the Vietnam War.
Looks original, except for the seats, gearstick, handbrake and the Toyota steering wheel.
Complete with a jerry can, what an awesome machine. I last saw one in Saigon, Vietnam, way back in ’93, when the youthful owner tried to interest me into buying it. I said, no good, I live in Malaysia and our steering wheel is on the right. No problem, he replied, I change to right steering wheel, tomorrow ready! Nope, I didn’t buy that puppy.
[TO BE CONTINUED …]