How was Luang Prabang?

Dec 19th, 2014
I was planning to wake up earlier in the morning, like 6am to see the almsgiving, which was a typical Buddhist thing there.
–“What’s that? Almsgiving?…”
–“Basically speaking, residents of the city stay on the roadside, on their knees or standing and offer food, money, water, snacks for the monks to take them. In return the monks will give some blessings.”
That’s right. Those monks got free food and everything (but no alcohol), even better than dumpster diving. 😉 😀
When I woke up it was already almost eight……
I slowly sat up. The problems of sleeping in a five-billion star hotel was the mosquitoes and the dew…… since I did not have a tent. For the mosquitoes, once I fell sleep, I was not bothered by them anymore, but for the dew, sometimes my sleeping bag got so wet that it woke me up…

It’s early. The temple hall was now open. Although it was written on the wall that the entrance fee was 2000 Kip (1 USD = about 8000 Kip), nobody was actually there to control it. I stepped into the quite temple. This hall was filled with statues, some very old. Rays of sunlight shone in from the windows, lighted the shoulder of this Buddha statue and the head of another Buddha statue. Incense, the smell of incense, sweet and a bit weird for me since I was not used to it, filled the room. It’s so quiet. There was just me inside there for 20 minutes, until a local woman came with her little kids to pray. I liked it that way until I got out of the temple. There was now a woman standing there asking for the entrance fee…… For those temples and many other sights there, there is no ticket. You just have to pay the required amount and you get in. Also people who control the entrance are not always in uniforms. This woman who seemed to be in charge of the entrance fee, did not have any uniform or recognizable label on her. She looked like a simple local woman, even with a baby strapped on her back. At the same time she was taking care of a souvenir stall just outside the temple hall. I was pretending to be not noticing her and wanted to walk away. She immediately called me back and asked me to pay.
I went to the cheapest hostel I found online, which was a bit far from the riverside, thus less tourists stayed there, perfect for me. The 6-person dorm was the cheapest option, 40 000 Kip per night, about 5 dollar thus.
I could have continued to stay in my awesome under the sky “five billion star hotel”, but I needed a shower, wifi and a place to put my luggage. If you hitchhike a lot, you will know that it’s exciting, but it also makes your mind and body tired pretty fast, so from time to time a hitchhiker needs the time of doing nothing, simply to relax and away from the roughness of the road for a few days to get back in shape.
I stayed in Luang Prabang for 4 nights, 3 nights in this cheap hostel.
So, how was Luang Prabang?
It’s ok, not too impressive, not horrible either. Actually it’s pretty nice I must say. Now I think back, it is my favorite city in Laos, 3 key words to describe it — ancient, quiet and laid-back. I met an American dude, who was a friend of my host in Kunming. He was hitchhiking in China and Laos. He loved Luang Prabang. Actually he loved it so much that he lived there, working in a guest house for 6 months. WOWO! 6 months?!
The main attractions there were a palace of the former king, a pagoda on top of a small hill just in the center of the city, some Buddhist monasteries and the night market. These were the attractions inside the city. In the surroundings there were some villages, with people in ethnical clothes and most famous of all, some waterfalls. In the same dorm with me, there was a Belgian guy and a German guy. They went to the waterfalls and both said they were were amazing. There were many options of commercial tours for visiting the jungles, riding the elephants, seeing the villages and waterfalls. It’s not the best season to see the waterfalls as it was now the dry season, thus less water.
As I was a low-budget traveller, I did not take any commercial tour. The first day (19th) I walked around the city and went to the night market in the evening. The second day I got up early in the morning and saw the almsgiving and spent the rest of the day with my lovely 4th handed ancient laptop. In the evening I went to an outdoor pub with some new friends. The third day I walked along Mekong river and left at noon for the ROAD. (It’s boring to just list what I did like this. I hate it, but I just have to do it to preserve the memory. 😉 😛 )

The Half Watermelon Pagoda

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