Day 126, Wednesday 9 May 2012, Luang Prabang to Pakse
Weird night, I heard voices on the street outside and thought – cool, it must be time to get up and go see the monk walk. I staggered out of bed, checked my watch and realised it was only 1:30 and not 5:30, back to bed. But I never really slept soundly again damnit.
I did get up at 5:45 when the alarm went off and was out the door soon after to catch the monk walk, though disappointingly I really only got the end of it. Luckily I did not listen to the advice of the guest house and go at 6.30 as I would have missed it all.
At dawn the monks from the local monasteries walk the two main parallel streets in Luang Prabang and collected alms, mainly from the local people, though some tourists also buy food and give to the monks. This is of course, a major tourist attraction in LP, and I was amazed at how many westerners are actually here – they obviously wheel out all the gentle folk on package tours for this ‘attraction’ – the tourists I hardly ever see when travelling more cheaply. I had a similar experience at Bagan in Myanmar, very few people around until sunset when all these tour buses magically appear and discharge a flood of tour groupers, who rapidly consume all there is to see and then disappear back on to the air conditioned buses to return to the sanctuary of their resorts.
There are numerous signs around LP advising people to respect the monks, don’t fire flashes in to their faces, keep out of the way and don’t crowd them. As you would expect, this seemed to be largely ignored. I kept my distance and took what photos I could without flash.
It was an interesting experience.
I cannot say this enough, I really liked LP, it is quiet and considered, a little cooler than Hanoi was – though still 33 degrees ! it is off season so things are a little cheaper than peak. My guesthouse is comfy and close to where I want to be, I have met some good people to hang with, and apart from being sick again I am pretty chilled. It is also very clean and tidy!
After breakfast and a wee break I grabbed a tuk tuk to the airport, check in was an hour and half before the flight time so I was there very early, unbelievably I actually went to sleep in the departure lounge on the most uncomfortable seats ever, I only woke when a boarding announcement was made. We all got on the plane and it left almost forty minutes early : ) so cool…
A re-enactment of actual events…
It was an ok flight, i regret not having my camera for the landing approach as there was some great shots to be had. The Mekong is so much clearer in the south of Laos compare to the north and the land is significantly flatter as well as far more arid.
I shared a ride into town with some other travellers and found my way to the Sabady 2 hostel, the guide book recommended place. I have a cheap room, fan only and share bathroom, but half the price of Luang Prabang, the advantage being there are other travellers here.
I checked in and then dumped myself on an outside table with a group of other people, all a lot younger than me, but got myself involved in the conversation and end up having lunch, and then dinner with the group, as well as a wee wander around Pakse.
We had dinner at a Mekong side restaurant, of the four things we ordered, only one person got what they expected, it wasn’t me. My veges turned into a chicken dish that was the hottest thing I have had in asia, I couldn’t eat it ! The good news is my stomach seems OK now – yes !