Day 312 of 400: Mekong River Cruise to Luang Prabang – Laos
The sun was just rising when we got up and got our things packed and checked out. After a quick breakfast, we walked with our guide down the main road watching the morning hustle and bustle. People were cooking breakfast on their charcoal fires and kids were crammed into an old truck (their school bus)…some even standing on the back bumper since it was full to get to school. Just a bit further down the road, the morning market was going on and the guide walked us through the little isles pointing out various foods. Money was being exchanged for all kinds of goods, we saw fresh fish being grilled, fried seaweed and dried water buffalo skin amongst regular veggies/fruits.
After the market, we walked back to our boat continuing to ask all kinds of questions in regards to the Laos customs…like the Chinese, they also eat dog. As we walked up to all the long boats docked…we took a picture, it was so beautiful…the sun was just coming up over the mountains and everything was still being it was so early. Once our stuff was loaded, and we had a hot cup of tea in our hand, we were again gliding down the Mekong and watching the locals begin their day. Fisherman were casting their nets, kids were running along the sand, we saw some tents set up holding a market, farmers were working their land and again women were kneeling down using their sifter’s to find minerals.
After sitting for a few hours on the boat, we approached a weaving village…as we pulled over we saw a monk dressed in orange standing on the sand between bags of rice. We jumped out of the boat and walked up the steep path to the top of the hill. Once we were at the top, we saw a building where the monks sleep, a church and many small shacks made of sticks and bamboo. As we continued walking, we saw the women of the village with all of their scarves and shawls hand-made displayed on the floor for sale. They also had some hard homemade alcohol they were selling and offering to taste out of used glasses which we politely turned down. We talked with some of the women and ended up buying a couple scarves before walking back down the hill and onto the boat.
We really never got tired of the scenery…it was relaxing just to sit and gaze out at the mountains and trees passing us by as we ate lunch on the boat. A few hours later we reached the Pak-Ou Caves…there were a few other long boats already docked since these caves are a major tourist attraction. We got out of the boat and walked up the steps built into the mountainside. Once we were at the top, we saw the cave had hundreds of Buddha statues sitting all over the walls and in every nook and cranny. We walked through the cave taking pictures and reading the little plaques about the history of the cave. There was also one set area with a bigger buddha where people were down on their knees in prayer.
Above the lower cave was an upper cave which was extremely dark with steep stairs, I decided for the sake of my ankle to sit outside and wait for Giff to check it out on his own. He said it had less Buddha figures but was much more of a work out with over 100 steps to get inside.
Back on the boat, we enjoyed our last two hours on the river as the sun was setting before arriving in Luang Prabang. We got checked into our new hotel which was about a mile from the center of town. It was right across the street from the river where they had little tables set up for breakfast. We were hungry so after getting our things settled in, walked a couple blocks over to a restaurant we had heard was good, Tum Tum Cheng. We ordered a few different dishes to munch on, sticky rice, spring rolls, spicy green mango salad, soup and a noodle dish which we washed down with Beer Lao. The restaurant began to fill up and the entertainment started…there were traditional musical instruments being played as well as dancers.
It was a long day on the boat and dinner was delicious…we decided to call it a night and went back to our place for the rest of the evening.