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Elaine and Peter’s Travel Diary

Monday, 04 Feb 2013

Location: Luang Prabang, Laos

MapWe got up at 6 am to line the streets to see a most remarkable sight, the Takbat ceremony.
Devout citizens gather at dawn each day, to greet lines of saffron clad monks and novices receiving alms. Lines of 400 monks wend their way round narrow streets to receive gifts of food and money from people kneeling on prayer mats at the side of the road.
Breakfast seemed late after that.
What seemed like later in the morning but was only 9am, we took the boat from the pier behind the hotel to ride for 2 hours along the Mekong River. This was lovely. We headed for a handicraft village but this one also had distilleries. In a very basic process, they produced a sort of whiskey. After a demo we had wine tasting and just had to buy a sample. It tasted more like a damson gin to me.
Many of the textiles were the same and also could be found in the town market, we suspect they have come over the nearby Chinese' border!!
We got back on the boat the same way that we had disembarked. The boats moor side by side, so you climb through three boats then literally walk the plank together to shore.
From here we went further along the river to Tham Ting and Tham Phoun caves, amongst the most sacred in the country. The caves were superb and full of 1000s of Buddhas left by people on their pilgrimage..
We crossed the river from here and went to lunch at a village called Pak Ou.
There were lovely views from the terrace, sitting amongst peanut plants and papaya trees we even saw 4 elephants come down to the river.
On our return journey, we disembarked at the village of Thin Hong where we saw a little of local life but mainly saw the paper making 'factories'
We had one more village stop after this, this time at another village making paper but this time from buffalo dung. Some lovely things in this village which had some beautiful houses. Tourism must be paying well.
The boat took us to a pier to pick up the bus. A lovely day on the river, very peaceful. The was very little traffic or activity. We did see some fishermen using traditional methods to fish, some people panning for gold and of course the washerwomen.
Apparently, the country has huge reserves of gold and minerals as yet not mined for lack of money.
Before we went back to the hotel we went to another fabulous temple, with a very large Buddha, we are beginning to recognise what his different poses mean.
And after dinner, another visit to the market.