I decided not to take the excursion to the Bolaven plateau because it seemed like too much time on the road and a very foreshortened trip since I had to be back to take the plane. Instead the plan was to rent a bike get started early in the morning bike around a little bit, come back for lunch and a shower and to cool off and then relax in the afternoon before heading to the airport at 3.
It didn’t work out that way. I got on the bike that I rented from the hotel and peddled happily for about 20 minutes along the river before I noticed that it was not just a flat tire but the whole rear wheel had basically come apart. Boy was I angry. I had to drag the bike back to the hotel in the sun all of which took about a half an hour out of the morning. I gave the hotel rental agency hell about the whole thing but I didn’t really feel like renting another bike. Number one I no longer trusted them to rent me a bike that wasn’t going to fall apart and number to losing that much time meant that I would be pedaling back In the heat of the day. I felt like I was spending a lot of time battling the heat and humidity.
So instead I just hung around slightly bored and irritated. Maybe I should have taken the excursion after all.
I had initially thought I might buy one of the skirts that are ubiquitous in Laos.
But in fact, to get one in raw silk is relatively pricey and, outside of Laos, would I actually wear it?
I had lunch at the cafe at the end of the street. I walked to the shopping center again and found nothing. But at least I did relax in my air-conditioned room for a while so I was fresh when I got to the airport.
My run of bad luck however followed me to Luang Prabang. I arrived at Thavisouk Guesthouse and the young woman who managed the place informed me that she didn’t really have room for me and gave me some story about a woman who wouldn’t leave the room because she fell etc. In other words she had overbooked.
It was a long tralala but essentially she works with a guest house next door so she put me up there for the night and made it up to me by upgrading me to a family room for the rest of my stay in Luang Prabang.
She was incredibly charming, nice and apologetic and so was her colleague next door in the other guesthouse. Couldn’t have been nicer. However the other guest house next door was not quite at the same level. I didn’t really like my room but it was okay for a night.
At least I did get to see a little bit of Luang Prabang. I got a ride to the night market and took a look at that. It was so strange to see so many tourists after coming from Pakse where there were really very few. The night market was jammed and seem to go on forever. There were extremely long aisles selling all kinds of fabric, handmade wallets, tote bags, and metal jewelry. Particularly interesting was the jewelry made from bombs that had been dropped by The Americans during the secret War which was an adjunct to our misbegotten campaign in Vietnam. There was also an extremely crowded street where sellers where ladling out, spicy stews, stir-fried vegetables, soups, fried treats.
It was lively. In fact it was a little too lively for my mood.
It was difficult to get a sense of the city at night. I unwound over a beer in a restaurant in the night market. I had some noodle soup which was mediocre and eventually headed back to the hotel.