November 10, 2020
As we mentioned earlier, we want to get to Laos by bus going from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. A 27-hour long journey is ahead of us. The bus leaves at 6:30 pm. As most buses in Vietnam this one also has bed. Although, it differs slightly from the previous ones. It turned out to be very comfortable. We sleep fairly well all night. Reaching the border around 9 am, makes us realize that the bus is running late. We are the only ones with visas already issued, and have to wait until visas for the rest of the bus are sorted.
Finally, we reach our destination after 30 hours. It is well past midnight, we are 3 kilometers from the city center and it is raining. Our bus also brought 5 girls from the UK, and together we decide to get to the city. There are several taxis, each for 7-8 people. Taxi drivers take advantage of the situation and want 20,000 kips per person. The price is way too high. After more than half an hour long negotiations, we set the price at 10,000. Despite the middle of the night finding accommodation wasn't difficult. We are going to bed very excited, and can't wait till morning to start exploring a new country.
In the morning, after breakfast, we go out ready for a new adventure. We heard a lot about this place, and we have a feeling that today is going to be a special day. You could feel the atmosphere of this place during breakfast on the street in front of the hotel. It is so peaceful and charming here. Luang Prabang is another gem on our way. Another site from the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is situated on the rivers Mekong and Nam Khan. In the past it was the capital of the country. The way to the city center itself makes us speechless. We walk along the Mekong River, which is very wide and coffee-colored. The buildings of the city have something that creates the local atmosphere. Here's the first point for today, the Phu Si Hill, with over 300 steps along many trees and gardens leading to the top. Wonderful views of the city, with the surrounding green mountains can be observed from the highest point. At the top, there is a Wat Chom Si, one of many Buddhist temples in Laos, here are also called wats. They are inhabited by monks dressed in characteristic orange robes. As you go down, you pass many buddha statues, buddha caves and more wats. We also see monks who are held in high esteem here.
The next place we visit is the Royal Palace, called by the locals the Golden Hall. It was built for King Sisavangvong and his family. It is the showpiece of the city. Beautifully decorated temple with a triple soaring roof. It is home to the Prabang Buddha statue. When you enter it, you have the impression that you moved back in time. Decorations and paintings are so beautiful that a person could look at them for hours. Another point of the complex is the National Museum, where you can see how the royal family lived, the rooms in which they hosted guests, and various gifts they received from other countries. Before entering the museum, you must take off your shoes and leave your belongings in the deposit. Taking pictures is prohibited, and shoulders and knees must be covered. We also visit the collections of royal cars, in the composition of which you can admire the old models of Lincoln or Citroen that used to be used by the royal family.
The next few hours we wander around the city, observing the life going on here, and as usual, photographing the local residents. At 6:00 pm we go to the theater. We watch a spectacle in which actors dressed in beautiful costumes present stories while dancing to folk music. We don't understand much of it, but it was worth coming here anyway. After the performance we wander around the evening market. You can buy a lot of wonderful things here, most of them made by hand. When it gets late, we realize that it's time to go back to our room, and have a rest after another, very intense day.
Tomorrow we are visiting a couple of spectacular places of nature...
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide