Luang Prabang

Wednesday 27th December 2023 – Luang Prabang

We get picked up by a big tuktuk at 9:30. It then proceeds to pick up many more people until it is impossible to cram any more. We then drive to the train station, miles away. The station is huge. To get inside we need to show our tickets and passport. Then we get our luggage scanned and searched. All our spray cans are confiscated.

We are checked again before boarding the train. The level of control is insane, for a train, but then, this is operated by the Chinese. That gives an idea of the level of control and paranoia that must exist within that country!

Eventually we get moving and get to Luang Prabang in 1h30.

The alternative to the train was a van. But it would take at least 6 or 7 hours to drive 180kms. A map shows why, it is mainly a very twisty mountain road. The train just tunnel through everything.

The station in Luang Prabang is also huge and 11 kms out of town but there are many vans waiting to drive us into town. We pick one and it leaves when full, as usual. We get dropped near our hotel. Our room is nice. That’s a pleasant change from the last one. We have many windows and lots of light. Even a fridge.

We spend the afternoon visiting , having a late lunch of fried rice in a little restaurant overlooking the Mekong.

Thursday 28th December 2023 – Luang Prabang

After looking at our options to get back to Thailand, we decide to stay in LP until the 1st of January.

Originally we were planning to take the train from LP to Vientiane, cross the border then take the night train from the Thai border to Bangkok. Unfortunately, the trains, all seats, all classes, are fully booked until 7th ofJanuary at least! The alternative is a bus that would take forever. We discount it and look at flights.

We find a direct flight to Bangkok. The only availability is the 1st of January, at 7:40 am! Not a problem. So we decide to go and walk to the Laos airline office in town to book our tickets. No problems. Except their only card reader is broken so we need to pay cash. So we walk down to the nearest bank…. Obviously the ATM machine there is out of order. Eventually after walking all over town is extreme heat, we manage to get the funds, return to the office and pay our tickets. Nothing is ever simple or straightforward.

After that we climb up to the top of a hill, in the middle of the town. It has a big stupa, small temple and monks. Nice view from up there. Going back we discover the French and very posh part of town, full of very expensive restaurants and shops. I think I will wait to be back in Bangkok to do some shopping!

Friday 29th December 2023 – Luang Prabang

We rent a scooter early morning and ride the 30kms to the famous Kuan Si waterfalls. They are very famous and considered the most beautiful in the country. We have heard that many times about many little drips of water….

We get there. The falls are made of multiple tiered lagoons, shallow at the edge, with milky turquoise water, and many ribbons of waterfalls in between. As we keep going up we get to the last tall waterfall.

I must admit, this place is absolutely gorgeous and deserves its reputation. Photos don’t show how beautiful the waterfalls are.

On top of that, while going up we cross a bear sanctuary. Laos has moon bears and sun bears, both endangered species. Bears are being hunted, illegally, for their bile. A must in Asian medicine. These have been rescued. They are beautiful and we are glad to see some.

I looked at bile extraction online, it’s gruesome and sadly many bears are kept in captivity illegally in Laos and Vietnam just for that, decimating the local bear populations.

Riding back we stop at a cafe, with a gorgeous setting next to beautiful paddy fields. This region is very beautiful.

Then we get back to town for very late lunch. In the evening we walk to the night market and get some deep fried spring rolls to share. They are so good.