Wow - just had a bus journey and a half. From Luang Namtha to Luang Prabang it took nearly 11 hours as the road goes up and down and round and round as it winds through mountainous and beautiful scenery. But it was tiring only helped by me singing - the wheels on the bus go round and round ..................Took us 11 hours on a very hot, dusty and bumpy mountainous road and it was dark when we finally arrived in Luang Prabang (LP), but it was worth it for the fantastic scenery. Rosmarie and Peter (our trekking companions from Luang Namtha who’d left a few days ahead of us) had left a note at our guest house (Villa Merry Swiss-Lao – a right mouthful!) to meet up for dinner. Unfortunately, we were too late and couldn’t find the restaurant in the dark anyway, but were really pleased that we did meet up with them later – indeed probably couldn’t have missed them as it turned out they were staying in the Villa Merry etc too, and in the room next door. On arrival, our initial thoughts were that we were a bit disappointed with LP, which was a bit twee and touristy compared to Luang Namtha. However, after a good night’s sleep, all looked much better in the daylight. In fact it’s a beautiful town in a wonderful setting. It has a faded French colonial look about its architecture, which makes it very attractive and blend in well with the river and mountain landscape. And there are Wats and monks wherever you look - an important religious centre for Buddhism in Laos.
Spent some time organising our onward travel to the south of Laos and further onwards to our next country. With that out of the way we were able to enjoy sharing a meal with Rosmarie and Peter; exploring around the town; taking in some of the splendid Wats and the Royal Palace Museum (strange they’re proud show this off and talk about their royalty after sending them into exile and apparently left to die in detention centre caves in the north); a trip up-river to see the Pak Ou caves full of statues of Buddha; the Ban Xang Hai or ‘Whisky’ village, where the people distil the local alcoholic spirit made from rice – Lao-lao; another village where we saw the people making paper from bamboo, banana and other leaves from the forest – and of course we had to buy some of their produce! That afternoon, after a whistlestop visit back to the guest house to change rooms, we headed off to Kuang Si waterfall.