The aggravation of the day before soon dissipated and I fell under the spell of Luang Prabang.
My first stop was the morning Market which I actually liked a lot more than the night market previously. This was much more local. They were practically no tourists whatsoever. Women sat next to their tables displaying spices, teas, fish, fresh vegetables, herbs, jungle honey. It was really laid-back.
Now I naturally gravitate to the river. The stroll along the river was peaceful and relaxing. There were very few cars. The road was lined with a lot of guest houses on one side and a few people selling local snacks and fruit drinks on the other . The banks of the river were lush and it was easy to walk even though there was no Promenade. I walked along for a while past boat docks where boats leave on various excursions including a Sunset Cruise that I intend to do at some point.
I was considering whether I should take the slow boat to Pakbeng. The problem was that it takes 7 hours to get there and 7 hours to get back. So essentially I would lose two days out of the trip in order to cruise down the Mekong River. I inquired at various travel agencies and the tourist information center whether there was an alternative. It would be to take a bus back but that seemed complicated because I actually would have to take two buses back and it would still be 7 hours. So I decided not to do that. It seemed to me that there are plenty of things to do in Luang Prabang.
After strolling for awhile along the river I turned up into the Historical Center. First I made a stop at a temple, Wat Mueng. It was closed but I enjoyed walking around the grounds.
Pretty much no one was there. Then I penetrated Into the heart of the historical district which was one very wide boulevard lined with low houses. It was pretty much 100% tourists, guest houses, travel agencies, souvenir shops. I don’t think that there was one single Laotian living there. It was kind of like the Dubrovnik of Southeast Asia. I was glad to be staying in a more authentic area. My guest house is in an area where Laotians live and work and shop and eat.
It’s ironic that Pakse was so authentic that it was kind of boring.
After taking care of various chores involving my cell phone, buying an air ticket, and booking an excursion to the waterfalls for tomorrow, I return to my Guesthouse to rest a bit cool off and charge my phone. Then I had some wonderful noodle soup in a tiny Place recommended to me by the manager of the guest house next door. It’s interesting to note that both guest houses are run by Vietnamese and I suspect are Vietnamese owned as well.
After lunch I went to the Royal Palace which is a must-see of course. It was interesting roaming the rooms of the palace which was actually built at the beginning of the 20th century when Laos was under French Colonial rule.
Unfortunately I was not allowed to bring my guidebook or any material inside anything into the palace as all bags cameras phones Etc had to be left in a locker outside. So no interior pictures.
Enough sightseeing for the day! I meandered back to the river And found a beautiful place to watch the sunset at the Riverside Restaurant I believe it was called. I walked around a bit more ; it is just so pleasant to explore the various neighborhoods. It’s a really laid-back vibe.
Troy truly relaxed vibe, I finished off the evening at the famous Utopia Bar Cafe Restaurant Garden. It’s a truly enchanting and romantic place of jungle Landscaping intersected by gravel paths, places to gather round wooden tables, lie around on mats, drink at the bar. There’s even a volleyball court. Plus of course drinks and tables on the terrace overlooking the river. The lighting is soft and hazy and the vibe was young kind of hippyish. It’s a great place but not such a great place to come to alone. I felt a little out of place even though one of the servers started talking to me to practice his English.
One of the things I noticed as I was walking around today is just how much beautiful wood is being used to construct these guest houses. It’s amazing. From cheap hostels to Luxurious guest houses they are all using the finest quality dark and lustrous wood. You can say that Laotian forests are being cut down to tantalize guests at Luang Prabang.