Saturday, April 6, 2013

Luang Prabang, Laos

Our first sunset on the Mekong. 

The bamboo bridge across the river, which is probably closed or washed out in rainy season. 
Fried river weed, like seaweed only better.
Lao fondue / barbecue / hotpot. 
The stakes are high at Laotian restaurants.
The old royal palace, now a museum.
The bamboo bridge by day. 
A Mekong cat.
Young monks going for a swim in the hot afternoon. 

An asiatic black bear, also taking in a dip in the hot afternoon.

Matt's just one of the bears (this picture's for Isaac).
Kuang Si Waterfall.
The limestone pools descending from the waterfall. 
Taking a swim in the hot afternoon. 
Leaving Luang Prabang. 

We cheated a little bit and flew from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang, Laos. The decision was either several buses that would take two days, or a 45 minute flight that only cost a little over $100 each. 

The whole center of the town of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site (our 21st). It was the capital city of the Luang Prabang (or Chiang Thong) kingdom, and is situated at the confluence of the mighty Mekong and Nam Khan rivers.  

On our first night we did a loop around the city and ended up at a restaurant across a bamboo foot bridge on the Nam Khan river. We ordered the Lao appetizer plate and 'Lao fondue' to share. It essentially mixes elements of Chinese Hot Pot and barbecue. By the end, and after several Beerlao, we were both full and glad we had a decent walk home to work off the meal a little. 

The following couple of days were spent walking around the town of Luang Prabang, enjoying the architecture, the local restaurants, the handicraft night market and the laid back vibe. And more Beerlao.

We took a trip out to the Kuang Si waterfalls. Just at the entrance to the waterfalls there is the Bear Rescue Center run by Free The Bears association. They've rescued 31 bears in Laos to date (and many others throughout SE Asia). Traditional medicine still uses bear bile and gall bladder. So poaching/capturing the bears is still a problem. The sun and moon bears (or Asiatic Black Bear) are super cool. We sat and watched them for nearly an hour as they wandered around, played in the water and slept in funny positions. 

The falls were really awesome. I did some fun time lapse and we took a swim in one of the aqua-marine pools of water. Which in the 90+ degree weather was quick refreshing.

- Matt