Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Other things I did in Laos

I already wrote about a few of the things I did while I was in Laos, but there are a number of other things I did while I was there as well. In an attempt to be somewhat concise, here are some of the highlights from my time in Laos.

Mount Phousi

Mount Phousi is the best-known place to get a view of Luang Prabang.  I actually made two trips here--once during the day with a girl from CA whom I met in my hostel, and once again to watch the sunset with a girl from Germany, who was one of my hostel roommates for a few days.  It's well over 300 steps to the top, but once you get up there the view doesn't disappoint. Not only can you see the mountains in the distance, but you also get a view of the two rivers that run through Luang Prabang--the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River.  There is also a temple at the top of the temple, as there often are on mountains in Asia.

The Mekong River is on the right and the Nam Khan River is to the left. 

Going to the top of the mountain was an entirely different experience from going during the day--mostly because of all the PEOPLE! Watching the sunset from the mountain is one of the top things to do in Luang Prabang, which means just about everybody does it.  Once again I found myself surrounded by Koreans, who always seem to possess the fiercest determination to get the perfect pictures of themselves no matter where they go.  

Despite the huge crowds, the sunset was still really beautiful, even if it was a little cloudy the night we went.

The Royal Palace Museum

It's no secret that I love to go to museums--I was a history major in university afterall.  The royal palace was the residence of the King from the early 20th century until the communist takeover in 1975.  Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but it was beautiful and contained a lot of information about what each room was used for.

Royal Ballet Theatre
If you know me at all you know that not only do I love history, but I also love dance. Naturally when I saw the sign for the Royal Ballet Theatre, it got my attention.  This isn't ballet as we tend to think of it with tutus and tiaras, but a traditional Lao type of dance.  I wasn't really sure what the story of the performance I saw was about, but it was still interesting to see.  The movements that the performers did were generally very slow and controlled.  A lot of the movement was concentrated on the arms and hands, a big change from dancing as I'm used to it, but I could tell that every movement they did was incredibly precise and strategic. 

The Night Market

It's pretty typical for popular tourist destinations in Asia to have night markets. This is typically where you can buy mass-produced elephant figurines or cheap clothes.  However, I have to say that the night market in Luang Prabang impressed me.  Yes, there were still the mass-produced things (which probably aren't made in Laos at all), but there seemed to be more handmade things at the market in Luang Prabang than there have been at other markets I've been to.  The night market is set up along the main road each night and I found myself going to walk around (and of course doing some shopping) every night I was in Laos.

This baby was with her mother, who was working at the night market. SOOO cute...she even waved at us!

Yummy night treat.  I loved the little bowl made out of a banana leaf.  

The tents being set up for the night market. 

So many tents!
Another thing I loved about the night market was on one of the side streets there was a street where you could get food.  You took a bowl, filled it up with whatever you wanted and then gave it to a worker to heat up and add some spices to.  The best part of this was it was super cheap--less than two dollars. I was half expecting to get sick the first time I went, but I ate here at least three nights and was totally fine.

Other things
Apart from these activities, there weren't that many major things to do in Luang Prabang.  I met some other people who didn't like the city because it's not really a huge party place--the bars are required to close by 11 PM.  However, I was totally fine with just taking it easy and hanging around this lovely city.  On the days I didn't have anything major planned, I spent time at Big Brother Mouse, sat by the river, read, wrote, or walked around.  This was a really calm place to spend some time, and one of my favorite cities I've ever been to, especially since you can really see the influence of French colonization in different ways throughout the city.  Whether it's the architecture or the abundance of good pastries and bread at cafes, it was really interesting to see the confluence of European and Asian elements in the same city.

Luang Prabang's Old Quarter is so lovely!!

I found this nice restaurant right along the Mekong one day for lunch. 

Sitting by the mighty Mekong

Lao coffee and a croissant

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