Some years ago there was a TV advertisement in Spain that says “Marina d’Or, holiday city” to promote a holiday resort at the Spanish east coast. And that’s Luang Prabang, a holiday city for families and retired people. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m glad families and retirees have a place for holidays but honestly, despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Luang Prabang is pathetic. Laos is one of the least developed countries in the world, however Luang Prabang (the center) looks like any other western summer city. An island of opulence which badly contrast with the local poverty. Only some few Laotians benefit from that, the rest still scrape by in the outskirts while westerns multiply business focused on westerns maintaining a community not integrated at all with the social and cultural reality of the country.
Still pending the post about sustainable tourism to talk about this.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the time there thanks to the company of Anya, Liam and Elena. Additionally I met again Casey, Belén and Heini and Sanni.
One day Anya, Liam, Elena and I wanted to rent a motorbike to visit the waterfalls around Luang Prabang but we found out that all the motorbikes in the city were already rented A missed opportunity only means a new opportunity. We took a boat to the other side of the Mekhong and walked around the villages with no tourists. When coming back, just before the sunset, some very nice locals invited us to drink beer and lao lao (a local whiskey obtained from rice) and to eat some fish they got from the polluted lake where they were living. We told them we only could stay 10 minutes because we had to take the last boat back, but they offered to take us to the other side so we could stay more. We were singing and enjoying the evening with them and they with us (using only body language, of course). Here a couple of videos I cannot resist sharing with you
The problems arose when it was already night and we left to come back. Liam wanted to give them some money for the beers and in the moment they saw the money they suddenly changed. Now they were demanding more money from Liam and then just stopped walking (they were coming with us) and let us continuing without any means to go back to the city. Fortunately other locals took us back by paying the same price that we paid when came (double than locals ).
About the touristic things there, the most recommendable are Kuang Si waterfalls, no doubts. There are other ones named Tad Sae where it’s necessary to take a boat and it’s more preferred by locals supposedly. I decided not to visit Pak Ou Caves (with hundreds of small wooden Buddhas) as well as Wat Chom Si, a temple on the summit of Phou Si Mount, in the city center, because I had to pay (I was fucked up of being charged all the time) and because it was crowded at sunset, the best moment to go up and look around. Regarding the food, the best were the buffets by 15000 or even 10000 kip (around 1-1,5 €) in the alleys around the Night Market (well, it’s not actually a buffet because one cannot refill the plate, but it’s possible to fill up the plate of vegetarian food as full as one wants to). There are also a lot of sandwich places but, unlike the ones in Vang Vieng, the bread in Luang Prabang is too soft, not fresh at all