Luang Prabang, Laos, October 2015

We were optimistic as we left Huay Xai. We had scored the last few seats on the overnight bus and we would be riding with friends we had met on the Gibbon Experience. Luang Prabang was said to be lovely and we looked forward to seeing the famed mystical Mecca in the mountains. Here we are on the bus:  
  

Things became a little more exciting than we bargained for. As it turned out we had a manic driver who went at breakneck speed and never stopped for any reason. We were thrown to one side of the bus then the other, over and over again, while going up and down northern Lao mountains, where there are no tunnels and no straightaways and we were definitely not in China anymore! The seats were not beds, but rather molded plastic reclined seats, but I did get a little sleep. We arrived about three hours ahead of schedule at 330 am and the place for all its charm was closed and dark and quiet. A kind hotel manager offered the sleepy twins (who were sleeping in papa’s lap on a bench) his own bed, which was so generous, and the three of us slept for a couple of hours while the other Fantastics made do on the stoop where we had been deposited. On the upside, they saw the daily early-morning alms-giving ritual where locals give food or money to monks from the wat, the temple. The next day we were all tired but we saw loveliness all around.

  
   
 The food was very easy to get used to- crepes and fruit shakes!

  We went to a beautiful, multi-tiered waterfall called Tad Sae that had been developed as a swimming area. It was touristy, but mostly Lao and other Asian tourists.  We took a boat to get there:

    
  

We all swam, and climbed the tiers. They looked like they were made by pouring cement onto the forest, around trees and everything! The water is a cloudy blue color from the minerals. It was refreshing and we spent hours here.

  
    
  

I went walking upstream on one of the many paths near the swimming area. Beautiful!
    
  

There was a large hardwood tree, beautiful!

 
In town, we walked around and saw aged structures and the beautiful temple on the grounds of where the king of Laos used to live. 

  
    

We saw this dragon boat housed in an out building on the property:
  

The gold shone in the sun, the place was exquisite!

  
    
  

   
   

In the later afternoon, people began setting up the night market mear this temple. 

  

I walked around a temple from the 1800’s with beautiful, worn details. 

    
    
These are stairs to a temple above the King’s palace area. 

 We loved eating dinner by the glorious Mekong River. There were many restaurants outside on platforms overlooking the river and we loved watching the sunset.  We could watch the boats and see the sky change color. We were there several nights and never got tired of the views.

    
   
Then we went to the night market. It glows with color from the lamps and beautiful merchandise, much of it made by hand. We were lucky enough to go during the low season for tourism so we could wander and bargain and just look at the colors. We didn’t buy much, since we have to carry everything in our backpacks.

    
    
Below are beautiful paper sculptures that fold into a greeting cards.

    
 

That was beautiful Luang Prabang. 

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