This is Anson reporting from Luang Prabang in Laos and I thank you for following my adventures. If you haven’t done so, do have a read on my first post where I gave a little introduction of this charming province in Laos.
So yes, back to all it began. Where were we?
Day One, 15 June 2014: After a two-hour flight from Bangkok, I had finally landed at Luang Prabang International Airport and was ready to explore the unknown realm.
A good way to come here from Singapore would be to first book a flight to Bangkok and do a transit via Bangkok Airways (PG). In fact, if you would like to visit the Indochina region (Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam), Thailand (Bangkok) has flights readily available to bring you around.
It was around 1pm local time and I was staring in awe at this big ‘bird’ that had just descended from the skies.
Indeed, the Bangkok Airways plane is every boy’s dream come true. It was the first time I travelled in a propeller-driven plane and I couldn’t help but marvel at the sight. I had a vision of cruising the skies as a pilot in my aviator shades (think Tom Cruise in Top Gun). And then I flew back to reality again.
According to our guides, May and June are low periods, where you generally don’t expect a lot of touristy activities (November and December are more popular for being cooling). Rainy weather is expected throughout this period, and when it doesn’t rain, it can be hot. We were thankful though, heavens showed its mercy throughout our two full days in Luang Prabang and we were able to complete all sights in good weather!
Lunch was at Tamnak Lao Restaurant. One thing that I immediately noticed was that there were ‘greens’ in practically every dish served. Lettuce in salad bowl? Check. Watercress in soup? Check. Cucumber with popiah-ish pork sausage? Check. Green in green curry chicken mesh? Obviously.
Perhaps the most iconic drink that I had during this trip was Beerlao. Yes, it is the Laotian equivalent to Tiger Beer, Heineken, whatever you call it. But honestly, this stuff is GOLD, as written on its label. I would have mistaken it for water if I had not been that thirsty, because it is light in taste, but still satisfyingly refreshing. It would be considered “blasphemous” not having tasted Beerlao while you are in Laos. Take note, drinkers!
We began our sightseeing by visiting Wat Visoun, the oldest living temple in Luang Prabang which contains a collection of antique Buddha statues.
After visiting the temples, we knew what was up next. We were going to scale Mount Phousi! Yes, we were ready to climb nearly 400 steps to the top to view the magnificent sunset.
I had to admit that my legs were slightly jellyish after the climb. I only had myself to blame for not having inserted a leg routine in my weekly workout regime. This is something that I would immediately correct. (More Bukit Timah hill climbs soon too, maybe?)
Then again, check my expression. I was definitely pleased with myself for making it right to the top. And it was all worth it. The scenery is what you would expect right out of a postcard. The only pity was that we were a tad too early to witness the sunset. Yes, we were THAT eager to climb.
Finally, it was time that the huge ball of fire began its descent. After an afternoon of sightseeing, climbing and perspiring, we were all weary but happy, and we were ready to check into our hotel. We were greeted by the warm hotel staff at Luang Prabang View Hotel and I took no effort to conceal my excitement as I surveyed my ‘private villa’.
I loved the entire villa, all the more knowing that I got the entire room to myself. However, what amazed me further was the bath area. Yes, I get easily thrilled looking at eye-pleasing furniture and decor. Call me suagu, but it was the first time I saw a bathtub that came with a pillow! Luxury comes in different forms it seems.
Putting the ‘tai-tai’ in me on hold, we proceeded with the last highlight of the day: The Baci ceremony.
Though Buddhism is the prevailing religion in Laos, there are still other minor religions that are practised, including Animism. The Baci ceremony is one of such which is usually held during festive seasons or important occasions. This time round though, we had the privilege to witness the sacred ceremony.
The ritual folks went in a circle to tie our hands with ‘white threads’. These are supposed to bring good luck, good fortune and good health.
And so, my first day in Luang Prabang ended on an eventful note. Little did I expect to be immersed in an entirely different culture with such rich heritage and vibrant colours to top it all. As a tourist, I felt curious taking my every step there. The more I saw, the more I learnt, and the more I appreciated.
Do continue to follow my adventures in Day 2 as I sail across the great Mekong River to the Pak Ou caves. Also in the next post is an exclusive photo of me taking a dip in the Kuangsi Waterfalls (parental guidance is advised).
For now though, I need my bubble bath badly. So do excuse me.
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