After arriving in Luang Prabang the previous day, Matt, Ian and I checked out the city properly on Monday 12th May. It proved to be everything we could have hoped for. This city is regarded as the "main" city in Laos, and very much a travellers hub, and the first destination for people entering the country from Thailand. The city is famous for it's night-markets, whose gleaming lights and busy feel made the central road to the city shine. This "main city" however, creates the impression that it is a big, built up polluting entity. This is not the case, as Ian and I proved when we walked around most of the city in about 90mins.
After staying another night here we headed off to Phonsavanh, to see the famous "Plain of Jars". This was only about 170km away as the bird flies, but still took our coach 8 hours, as the Lao landscape proved to be very mountainous.On 14th May the three of us explored all three of the Jar sites, a whiskey village and an old Russian tank. These Jars stand up to about 2 metres tall, and the belief behind why they were made is still sceptical at best. There are several hundred of these Jars at each site, and they were very impressive to see. The whiskey village comprised of the locals making "Lao Lao", which is basically rice-whiskey. The stuff is about 50% and lethal! Its also not very nice, leaving a bitter aftertaste, after tasting of water to begin with.
Another 8 hour hilly coachride saw us arrive back in Luang Prabang the next day, and spend a night in a very badly ant-infested wooden room, before checking into somewhere else the next day.
On Friday 16th May we took stock, arranged oursevles and relaxed, having been reminded that long coach rides and waking up during the night with ants crawling around in your hair and on your chest don't make for an energetic person. On the up side though, we had our China Visas approved!
The next day saw us rent mountain bikes, and cycle to a supposedly fantastic waterfall. We knew it was a bit of a ride away, but were prepared to take this on. So 17km later, the majority of which was uphill, we arrived at the waterfall. The views all the way were very good, Laos again proving to be a very beautiful country. En route, Matt had taken a high speed tumble and opened his knee up quite badly, and the monsoon season had reminided us of its presence, for an hour or so. To top it all off...the waterfall was not much short of a total let down, and I had managed to get fairly sunburnt. It was all quite funny afterwards...
Sunday 18th May was spent sorting ourselves out, scanning the markets, and pretending we weren't achy from the previous day. We also sorted out our passage to Vang Vieng for the following day.
Luang Prabang was a city that we were all sad to leave, and one that I would very much like to visit again one day. The people are friendly, the food is good and the atmosphere in the centre of town is that of a youthful yet respectful sanctuary.