Travelblog: Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos, the most overlooked country in SE Asia. Malaysia and Philippines see more visits than Laos. This is unfortunate because you would be remiss to miss out on Laos. Laos was the most peaceful of the countries I visited and the country I wanted to retire in the most out of all I would see. Luang Prabang was the only city I would see, but unlike Cambodia, I got a good sense of the culture in a short time. Vientiane is another city to check out here, but Luang Prabang was lovely. 

I stayed at a cozy guesthouse with a glorious shower and apparently a chef, I was never sure about him. The language was similar to Thai was it wasn't too difficult and many people got excited when I spoke any Lao to them. The best of these were with the sausage lady at the night market (you may remember her from the early post about general SE Asia feelings) and the lady at the UXO site who told me about the bombings of Laos (by the US...o yes the US did a number on this region from all their leftover bombs from Vietnam bombing runs) and how Lao people watch Thai tv.  In general everyone was friendly.

Most of Laos is trekking as nature takes its course throughout the city of Luang Prabang and the country as a whole. The city was quite walkable and I enjoyed seeing the temples with a similar, but different design than Thai temples, the government mansion and famous Luang Prabang Buddha, Mt. Phousi and its views, finally viewing the Mekong River, Kuang Si Waterfall trekking (where I went on a completely random pathway), and seeing the monks on their alms walk in the morning (they only take rice, they give other items to poor children).

In terms of food, Laos has several cuisines that are similar to Thai food. I had a fun adventure crossing an old wooden bridge on the river to meet with a Colombian and Mexican I met at the airport (hooray for Spanish!). Highlights include Larb (meat salad that is intensely flavorful), Beerlao Gold (top 3 beers of the trip), Lao-lao (rice liquor that will mess you up!), black or purple sticky rice (Laos prefer sticky rice) and a variety of sauces. At a cooking class -#2 - I took in Laos I was able to make a few aubergine sauces, sticky rice and this complicated but wonderful chicken salad in lemongrass. I would also begin the coffee craze again as Laotians like their coffee with condensed milk at the bottom. 

In terms of logistics, sometimes you'll feel off (this is a communist country so you will see Soviet flags occasionally), but don't worry Laotians are kind. You also need to have your visa money ready. Tuk-tuks and simply walking can get you around Luang Prabang. You will also see several monks and will be able to enjoy their presence. One note is that some dogs are simply out and about as one freaked me out on the way to the alms ceremony.

Laslty, do not skip this country, it is beautiful, cheap, and the people are kind. Don't overlook it