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Luang Prabang: Wats and Waterfalls

After the nauseating bus journey through the mountains to get to Luang Prabang we checked into our hotel – the lovely Villa Laodeum.  We ended up watching the end of the Murray – Ferrer match in our room instead of getting out and exploring but it was quite an exciting one!  Afterwards we headed out for dinner in a restaurant on Luang Prabang’s main street.  There are a lot more tourists here than previous places we’ve been to in Laos and you can see why.  The town is beautiful, surrounded by river and mountains, with gorgeous old colonial buildings.  It’s very nicely done – most streets are lined with pretty fairly lights in the evening and there are lovely cafes with mod cons but decorated in a traditional style.

On the Saturday we had a day of hard-core sightseeing.  We hired some bikes and toured the town, catching some stunning river and mountain views, our photos don’t do it justice! Like so many places in Laos, there are temples every 200m along the road so we stopped at a few.  Very ornate with a lot of gold!  We stopped at the market in town for a baguette and sat in the grounds of Mount Phousi to eat it, overlooking yet another temple.  After lunch we took in the Royal Palace Museum which, funnily enough, used to be the Royal Palace and was laid out in more or less the same way as it had been when it housed the royal family.  So we got to see bedrooms, dining rooms and lots of portraits of previous monarchs.  Old royal cars are also exhibited, and we saw a lovely little Citroen and some enormous American Buicks.  We also stopped off at the temporary exhibition titled “The Floating Buddha” which portrayed monks in various stages of meditation.  Some amazing photographs with stunning backdrops.

We climbed up Mount Phoui for sunset, along it seemed with the rest of the tourists in town, to Wat Tham Phu Si.  It was quite a steep climb but we were rewarded with an amazing sunset.  As were the 100 or so other tourists who has made the effort!

The next day we got a tuk tuk to Kuang Si Falls, which are about 30km out of town.  The falls are spectacular; multi-tiered, splashing into beautiful blue green pools.  We walked up to near the top of the waterfall and wandered back down, stopping every now andagain to admire the view.

At the bottom of the falls is a sanctuary for Sun Bears who have been rescued from poachers.  It was a great looking area, with loads of room for the bears to run around and lots of objects placed throughout the site to keep them amused.  The bears were quite active, despite the heat, and we managed to get some good photos!

Luang Prabang was our last stop in Laos, and our next destination is Thailand.  Bring on the curry!

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