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Last updated : Nov 2009
Monk Fu in Luang Phabang
Rating : ( 4.6 ) ( 11 votes )

Luang Phabang, Lao Peoples Dem Rep
Jan 05, 2004 01:57

Pros: Friendly, Kind People
Cons: none

We arrived from the Slow boat in Louang Phabang just in time to see the city at dusk to the background sounds of monks chanting & drumming. It was a breath taking display and truelly a much more appealing first impression then we had received elsewhere. Louang Phabang "exudes remote tranquillity and casual grandeur" or so says our guidebook and we have to agree. The city is the royal capital of Laos, and a world heritage site at the meeting of the Mekong & Nam Khan rivers. It has a strange mix of French-Indochinese architecture, eg. large French-colonial style mansions converted into guesthouses, amongst many Laos stupa-capped temples. Monks are found all over the old city, wandering around at dawn to collect alms and at dusk when they gather in front of their temple's major Buddha image.

The atmosphere here is relaxing yet the city has a vibrant culture. During the days we could walk or cycle the length of the old city seeing the stores and temples, stopping occaisionally to sip strong Laos coffee, served half condensed milk, half coffee and so strong it could turn your teeth inside out. After a brief exersion of walking the streets we could happily relax down by the river watching the local life around the riverbanks. At night the Main road (which like all roads in Laos has nearly 20 different names depending on who you ask) becomes a large night market where you can have a cheap feast with BBQ fish or chicken, and see the local handicrafts which are fairly similar to Northern Thai Handicrafts.

Oh Yeah, I feel that i must lay one more minor gripe down about Laos. Why is there so many f-ing zeros in their currency? Most of our meals cost 10,000 kip, a small purchase of water is 1,500 kip. Nothing is less than a thousand here, it is completely ridiculous! Whenever we changed money (no ATMs) we ended up with a short novel of Laos notes, making us feel like we were really rich, but on more than one occasion we had to make an emergency trip to get cash after finding that the stack of notes depletes really fast. In fact the kip is so annoying that most retailers prefer US dollars or baht and the kip is useless outside of the country except as toilet paper.

We are now moving onwards to the town of Vang Viang, a backpackers paradise,roughly midway to Vientiane.

Recommended: Yes
Best Suited For: Anyone
Best Time to Travel Here: Anytime