Lovely Luang Prabang

After a long and tiring bus journey that crossed the north of Laos, we arrived in Luang Prabang.

We were exhausted! At night, we walked to our hotel and found it closed, with no signs of life. The doorbell didn’t work. We knocked on the door. Nobody came. We started shouting “hello”, even though it was quite late. Finally a man came to the door and gave us the precious key to our room. We could go to sleep, at last!

Beyond the trip of that day, I was exhausted of the whole trip through Southeast Asia. I started to think that we should return to Portugal earlier. I was tired of these cities, these hordes of tourists everywhere, the confusion of cars and motorbikes, the polution. I was tired of the food that bounced between noodles, rice, chicken and pork! I started to doubt about my ability to complete my dream of travelling around the world. Perhaps, all this adventure was not for me.

Many times I thought that I only wanted to have a home again. Back to the familiar routines. I imagine that for someone who never travelled for a long time this might be difficult to understand. For me, it was. There I was, fulfilling one of the biggest dreams of my life, tired and full of doubt.

Luang Prabang was the right city at the right time.

In the following morning we woke up late. We had basically no plans. We marked on the map the sights that our guide mentioned, crossed the river Nam Khan to the center, and loved what we found.

The bamboo bridge is rebuilt every year when the rain season ends, to allow crossing of the Khan river.

Luang Prabang wasn’t like the cities we had been to up to then. Luang Prabang was like finding a hidden gem on our path. The streets were almost empty, the houses all the same colonial French style. They were well kept, everything was clean. There was no plastic on the floor, no smell of smoke or sewers through the streets (usual up to then). The sidewalks were clean and walkable (in Cambodia and Vietnam the sidewalks were always full of motorbikes, cars or food stalls).

Finally we found a city that was calm, beautiful, that gave us an extraordinary sense of peace.

We visited multiple temples, the royal palace, the night market and a photographic exhibition about the Buddhist monks of Luang Prabang.

The collonial French style  O estilo colonial francês bem evidente num dos hotéis da cidade.

Wat Xieng Thong is the most famous Buddhist monastery  in Luang Prabang, with majestically decorated buildings.

 

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center (TAEC): located in a mansion that was the residence of a French magistrate and is one of the most opulent buildings of the 1920s. Besides the museum, there is also a cafe and a store.

 

The night market starts as evening comes, in one of the main streets where the cars are replaced by stalls selling the most varied products, arts and crafts.
Temple inside the royal palace complex.
Evoking the traditional Laotian style and the French beaux-arts, the royal palace was build in 1904 and was home to the king Sisavang Vong (reigned 1905-59). Unfortunately no photos are allowed inside!
It looked as if we went back in time!

The food was also a pleasent surprise! The city is full of picturesque restaurents and cafes, and we even found a delicious bakery! In this part of the world, finding good bread is basically impossible.

But the best was yet to come! The waterfalls of Tat Kuang Si were a paradisiac vision of nature.

In a long trip there are always highs and lows, Luang Prabang was unquestionably a high one. It brought me back confort and made me again realize that this adventure made perfect sense.

Margarida

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