16/5/07 30 °C
I do not think towns come more enchanting than the ancient capital of Laos....Luang Prabang. As the french explorer and naturalist Henri Mouhot wrote arriving here in 1861 "...were it not for the constant blaze of the tropical sun, or if the midday heat were tempered by a gentle breeze, the place would be a little paradise". Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers, encircelled by mountains and with some of the finest french provincial architecture I have ever seen. I found a picture perfect room in a beautiful guesthouse, an old white fench mansion with dark green shutters and 4.8m ceilings with lovely views on to the street below. This town is a photographers dream. The fist morning I woke at dawn and wandered down the narrow streets where lines of monks on their daily alms round receive offerings of rice and fruit from the buddhist faithful. The locals will sell you a ratten container of "sticky lice" and a kneeling spot on a straw mat for about USD$1, it was all very serene. The town seemed magical in the morning light filled with bronze figures in their saffron orange robes. This town is the perfect retreat to cafe hop...which I have been doing a lot of, writing my journal, taking photos and just absorbing the tranquil atmosphere. One such heavenly spot is the L'Etranger Book& Tea shop where I have been a regular and managed to pick up some more novels!. It was here curled up on the big cushions surrounded by classic national geograhic magazines that line the walls that I met a fantastic couple from NZ ( Mel and Darren). The three of us have spent the last few days together. We found a great wine bar which became our local and indulged in many of the fantastic local restaurants. Our favorite being L'Elephant. Mel and I spent hours at the night markets ( without doubt the best markets I have ever seen) bargaining over silver and beads ( my collection of which grows daily!). Yesterday we took a picnic lunch out to a local waterfall for a swim, what a stunning spot!. We also visited the local refuge for the moon bears and chatted to the volunteers about the wonderful work they are doing. All of these bears had been saved from the cruelty of poachers who use the poor little things to extract bile for the chinese market. I just loved watching them play, they are so human like. I have so enjoyed my few days here and would be sad to leave if it were not for my excitement of heading to Hanoi...a place I have long wanted to visit.
Hope you are all well and happy. Will send some more photos in a few days but computers are a little slow in this part of the world.
Take care, Jane xxx