Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Living Lao

Our spring break was a perfect collection of travel, rest, food, company, sights, learning and sharing.  We spent time with old friends and made new ones.  We ate at tourist-catered cafes and sat around a table picking at a bowl of chicken insides with sticky rice.  We slept on mattresses and on wood planks covered with blankets.  We used western style flush toilets and squatters flushed with a bucket of water.

Most of our trip was spent in Luang Prabang, but we also stayed in Nong Khiaw and Phayong Village.  Our experiences were very different in each city, but we loved them each for what they had to offer.

Luang Prabang is definitely a tourist destination.  Seeing the tourist area filled with americans, canadians, europeans, etc, was a shock to us.  Taiwan does not have many tourists and it is easy to go out and not see another caucasian person.  In the Luang Prabang tourist district guesthouses, shops, restaurants and guided excursions were aplenty, each with a quaint charm.  Here you can get french fries, a latte and arrange a trip to see the elephants and waterfalls all in a one block walk while you watch at the monks in their orange robes coming and going from the temple across the road.  It is all lovely.  I happily ordered my latte, in english, while watching the monks.  A little easy tourism is nice sometimes.  Not always what we're looking for though; luckily when you get off the main drag by just a few blocks tourists were a rare sight.  Our guesthouse was off the beaten track, literally; a turn down a dirt road, then another, smaller, dirt road and there it was.  Here there was unfamiliar foods, very little english, games of petanque with local people and a "boh pen nyung" (don't worry about it, it's nothing) attitude.  This, too, was wonderful.

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