2006 Laos: Luang Prabang


Click above to see the photo set.

Click above to see the photo set.

I loved Laos. Most people who have been will say that. I hated to leave and on retrospect should have stayed longer and found that treehouse village they were all talking about. I mean, who can say goodbye to saffron robed monks swimming in Kuang Si green water? Leaving isn’t easy in Laos, no matter where you go, it’s a hard journey, since the infrastructure is still being developed. Maybe they are cleaning-up from all the bombs that were dropped on them during Vietnam.

My exit north from Luang Prabang to the Thai border at Chiang Saen was via a two day slow-boat ride on a hard wooden bench. I tried to snap pictures along the way, but the light was fantastic for about five minutes right at the end of the second day. And it happened right as a water hose broke on the engine, so there was mild caos for a minute and I happened to have set down my BeerLao and pick-up my BeerCamera to snap a few shots.

It’s funny, about two years ago, before I went on my first Thai adventure, the oddest of people had some words of wisdom. Larry Kane, a wrestling coach at Galileo High School in San Francisco heard I was planning a trip to S.E.A and said, “you should definitely get to Luang Prabang, Laos, if you go.” I was thinking, as many of you are thinking, “Where the hell is Laos?” I was also thinking, “Why does Larry Kane know about Laos and particularly this one city called Luang Prabang?” Blame it on Koh Chang, but I never got to Laos that first trip, so it was a must “do” this time around in the Land of Smiles. I never did find out how Larry got to Laos, but I did find that his — and of course my travel advisor Megan Hug’s! — advice was perfect.

Luang Prabang is wonderful, preserved as best as it can be as a UNESCO world heritage site. They are catering to backpackers, which means more pizza and burger restaurants, but at least tour busses are not allowed in, and businesses are limited within the UNESCO area. Read: No Starbucks allowed! We should all be so lucky; I wonder if Oakland could qualify?

As for activities I went to the most amazing waterfall OF ALL TIME, called Kuang Si, about 25 km outside Luang Prabang. Words, let alone photos, will never do it justice, and while it was over run with backpackers diving into the sea-foam green pools (for me forever renamed Kuang Si green) I was able to find some seclusion where the kids and I could frolic.