Luang Prabang III: Mighty Mekong

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!
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Great weather, so another town walkabout looks good.
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Breakfast first, in a garden-like outdoor cafe. Nice touch, the Laotians are learning from the Thais, I see.
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Sculpted fruits, simple idea but cool.
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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.
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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.
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So where exactly is Luang Prabang in relation to the 4800km-long Mekong? See the blue ‘x’ in the map below for orientation.
[source].
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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.
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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.
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No kidding, real (dead) critters in them jars. To wake up your little fella (or so they claim), will you go for it?
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Meanwhile, a slender passenger boat with 2 side engines glides past, sans life-vests.
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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.
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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.
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I still see some interesting traffic on the river. A dual-hull ferry cum house?
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Tourism-related businesses aplenty here, and this is a typical menu. Fancy a 30-hr road trip to Kunming, in a bus with beds?
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More French building, still in pristine condition.
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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.
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A rice merchant awaits his first customers.
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Then I spot something truly interesting – an original US Army jeep, a relic of the Vietnam War.
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Looks original, except for the seats, gearstick, handbrake and the Toyota steering wheel.
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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.
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[TO BE CONTINUED …]

One Response to “Luang Prabang III: Mighty Mekong”

  1. khim says:

    Nice clear pictures you got. Streets look clean too.

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