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Clare’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 07 May 2008

Location: Luang Prabang, Laos

MapLife in Luang Prabang here in Laos is pretty nice as far as backpacking goes... the town in UNESCO Heritage listed and is a lovely quiet, french retreat from everything around. We've been here a couple of days and have slowed right down, walking everywhere, eating great Laos food (Same same like Thai but different) and drinking wine - yes WINE! the first time is 6 months I've been anywhere that has half decent wine at a reasonable price. I knew there was a reason to like the French after all!

The rest of Laos seems to pretty much be forest and rivers - I flew in a couple days ago from Thailand and it was just jungle until right before we landed. Luang Prabang itself, though a city is really small but is next to the Mekong river, which by the time it gets here from China is a big, wide, slow moving, brown waterway, which looks right at home in this tropical setting. And tropical it is...India was hot, but here its really humid, sticky and sweaty. Its nice to be in some different climate after a long time of the same thing but it can be a bit much when it rains and the place turns into a steam bath.

Amy and I have kept ourselves busy, we've wandered round the temples and night market, Kayaked down the Mekong to visit some caves which contain thousands of spooky, dusty Buddha statues, eaten and drunk, planned our onward journey and today we were weaving silk scarves on a proper frame loom - after we met the silkworms gorging themselves on Mulberry leaves and hand dyed our silks using the traditional natural dyes available in the jungle. I'm going back tomorrow to finish my scarf and Amy is off to learn to cook Laos style! Yes genteel Luang Prabang is a world away from "full power" Bangkok.

Ah Bangkok - where to begin? Yes, I had a ball for two days after a pretty remarkable set of coincidences/occurrences (call it what you will). Firstly, thank you Thailand for some western shopping opportunities which means I finally have some new clothes which do NOT have traveller stamped all over them and actually fit me! I even got in some sightseeing, but then my well laid plans were scuppered when walking down Khao San Rd, I bump into Bertie, one of the volunteers from the Tiger reserve I was at in January... we immediately nipped off for a beer. A few beers and some food later, we start chatting to the lads on the table next to us - it only turns out that they are both from Barnstaple and one went to Park School, the other Torrington and we know people in common... small world eh? Anyway we all decided to head out for some of the famous Bangkok nightlife and crawled home in the early hours leaving me not much time to pack for my flight to Luang Prabang... good job its all Shanti, Shanti" in Laos!