There was just enough time for me to get up early to watch the monks pass by one last time. I then took a wander to the end of the street to take another look at the Mekong River and the Viewpoint Cafe, where we’d been the night before.
Then there was the “problem” of having a few more kip in my purse. Time for that last minute shopping! There was a small shop further up the road selling goods that were repurposed from Hmong clothing. Clare and I chose a wall hanging and some cushions covers, each with fabric that combined indigo batik and embroidery.
Then back to the airport! It was weird saying goodbye to Luang Prabang, and to Laos. We’ve had such a wonderful time. It was also sad to say goodbye to our friend Peter, who had shared a number of terrific experiences with us. Hopefully we’ll see him one day in either Chicago or Kyoto – and there’s always the internet to help keep in touch.
The airport at Luang Prabang is so easy. I really do enjoy a small airport, where things are straightforward and run smoothly. We were in a slightly larger plane this time, maybe seating around 80 people. Boarding and disembarking is easy with those numbers, even when it involves a walk across the tarmac and a climb up stairs that are closer to a ladder.
I had the window seat, and noticed the differences between Luang Prabang and surrounding areas as compared to what I could see as we approached Chiang Mai. It’s two and a half years since we were last here, and it really did feel like flying into a modern city. Immigration and customs took a little longer, the roads were hectic – but our tuk tuk driver did a superb job of both strapping all our luggage to the back of the tuk tuk and in navigating to our accommodation.
We stayed at Baan Boo Loo last time we were here, so it did feel rather a lot like coming home. What was surprising to me was how much more construction had taken place over the intervening years and how rooms and suites in the accommodation section had been reconfigured.
I really do think that the photos speak for themselves. We are upstairs, with two bedrooms, two toilets/bathrooms, a deep claw footed bath on the balcony, lounging areas on the balcony, and a massive shower room. The facilities are all incredibly natural and beautiful. The owner, Adisak, has a passion for using reclaimed timber and for antiques, and he managed to incorporate them beautifully throughout the property.
The main reception and common areas are now across the laneway in a lush jungle setting. It’s really hard to believe we’re in the centre of the old city! There is much to explore, and everywhere I turn there is another photo opportunity.
Louis, a long-term guest of Baan Boo Loo, recommended a restaurant in the main street called Hanging Feet. We headed there for dinner and enjoyed a range of Thai foods while sitting traditional Thai style on floor cushions. This restaurant also has an area where there are cut outs for your feet to dangle through rather than having to fold them up cross legged – we’ll hopefully get one of those tables next time! It was clear from the number of young people that it was primarily a local restaurant rather than one aimed at tourists, which was reflected in a very reasonable prices and the amount of spice in the food.
On the way back from dinner Clare asked to try out a fish spa – she said she’d always been curious! Stella was not keen, so Dan, Clare and I all took the opportunity to stick our feet in a tank of toothless garra rufa fish and have them suck off bits of dead skin. It was a really strange feeling! Definitely ticklish, but not unpleasant, and my feet felt amazing afterwards. I think I might need to do it longer next time. I think it’s more a fish pedicure than a fish spa!
Today we plan to wander around town and refamiliarise ourselves. It already looks as though progress has been moving apace in the last two and a half years. Then I’ll start thinking about what else we’ll do while we are here…