Thailand and Laos 2017

Thailand and Laos – day thirteen (Luang Prabang, Tuesday)

We had been enjoying the fiddle playing of one of our fellow travellers, Peter, over breakfast each morning.  Nothing like an Irish jig or a rendition of Waltzing Matilda when staying in Laos!

20170117_095719

20170117_110603

20170117_110843

20170117_111007

20170117_111517

Peter joined us in hiring a boat for the day to travel up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves.  The trip up the river took a couple of hours, against the current.  It gave us insight into life along the riverbank, and a great deal of beautiful scenery.

20170117_111523

20170117_113143

20170117_114218

20170117_121127

20170117_124452

We stopped along the way at Ban Xang Hai, also known as Whisky Village.  This was a small village that sold locally made whisky – many bottles containing critters of a variety of species – and plenty of textiles.  We were the only tourists there when we visited.  Many of the women were weaving the same scarves and skirts as they were selling, and others were doing cross stitch.  Some of the items in the stalls appeared to be factory mass-produced items, but plenty were also made by the vendors.  This time I couldn’t resist and bought four lengths of fabrics.  I’m not sure yet what they will become!

20170117_124740

20170117_124910

20170117_124950

20170117_125949

20170117_130005

20170117_133403

The whisky – called lao Lao – is made in simple home stills from rice.  Apparently it’s around 40% alcohol.  The locals use it in ceremonies.  Unfortunately many of the additives that can be seen in found in the bottles are wildlife – illegal and unethical!

20170117_124619

20170117_133305

I keep on wondering about life for young women in Laos.  We get information from the novice monks about life for young men, but it’s harder to get information on life for young women.  There aren’t as many girls at the English conversation sessions, and overall they seem to have less English.  It’s the same at the villa – the cleaning staff are women but don’t really speak English, whereas the serving and reception staff are all young men.  The women that we see at market stalls are often quite young and are breastfeeding infants.  I need to find out more.

20170117_175244 Once back in the boat we travelled for another fifteen minutes or so to Pak Ou Caves, located where the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers meet. These are two very sacred caves, one of the most respected holy sites in Lao.  The caves are in a limestone cliff, with an upper cave that is dark and needs a torch to explore, and a lower cave where light filters in.  Both caves are packed with Buddha figures in their thousands.  There were a whole lot of stairs that needed to be climbed to get up to the top cave – we are getting fit!  The caves have a strong smell of wax – all those burning candles and incense over thousands of years. 20170117_135015

20170117_135222

20170117_141123

20170117_141201

20170117_141319

20170117_141424

20170117_142817

20170117_142905

20170117_143131

20170117_143428

20170117_144022

20170117_144222

20170117_145110

20170117_145426

20170117_145551

20170117_145855

20170117_145915

We had late lunch at a restaurant across the river from the caves.  Yet another delicious meal!  We could see school kids running down to the river and filling up small boats to get home from school.

20170117_151142

20170117_151404

20170117_152045

20170117_152803

20170117_153001

20170117_162238

Then it was back in the boat again to travel downstream back to Luang Prabang.  It took around half the time to get back, as the current was rather strong. We arrived back in time to watch the sunset over the river – much more peaceful than watching it from the top of Mount Phou Si!

20170117_162757

20170117_162836

20170117_171836

20170117_172928

20170117_173213

20170117_173400

20170117_174036 We were back just in time to head down the road to the Gavarek storytelling theatre. They present traditional Lao myths and fairytales, accompanied with music from the traditional Lao folk instrument the Khene.  It is like a mouth organ, with bamboo reed pipes.  It was fascinating to watch the musician at work.  The storyteller was extremely animated and there were plenty of giggles involved in the story.  An added bonus was when Peter and the Khene player had a jam session prior to the storytelling. 20170117_181905

20170117_183220

20170117_183641

What a superb day!

20170117_181821

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Thailand and Laos – day thirteen (Luang Prabang, Tuesday)

  1. Thank you for the posts you are writing about this incredible travelling. I am reading you from Spain, and even I enjoy all your sewing related posts (thanks to you I discovered Style Arc) I am enjoying a lot this serie of posts from Thailand and Laos.

  2. This has been such wonderful travelogue. Even though I don’t like hot climates your posts and the
    Dr. Siri books make me want to have that adventure. Claire is a fine writer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s