Although we knew it was the 31st Dec, last day of our 2015 adventures….it somehow didn’t seem much like NYE in Luang Prabang, Loas. People were gearing up with lights and signs, so unlike Christmas they do celebrate it here….but it just didn’t have the same feel to it…..not that we are party animals in any case….we generally don’t even see in the New Year….tucked up in bed asleep it just seamlessly passes us by.
The four of us walked into town (quite a way as in most places the cheap accommodation is always out of town) and after getting some money out of the ATM we stopped in at a little place called “Merry 2” for breakfast…..nothing to write home about but sustaining none the less. The waitress gifted us 4 mandarins for New Year.
We then continued our walk through town…and Vince and I stopped and looked at small Art Gallery, where we were impressed with the local artist’s work and considered purchasing one as a gift to each other for our first wedding anniversary tomorrow. The boys waited outside as “they don’t do art” according to young Mike. Walking a bit further down we saw the way up to Mt Phousi. Vince had been to the top on his previous visit and wanted to show me….so we climbed Mt Phousi (I know he loves me but sometimes I think he’s trying to kill me!) On the way up I was tempted to hit the gong but managed to restrain myself. We passed a lady with flower offerings and small bamboo cages holding pairs of birds…..these she indicated were offerings for good luck. Whilst we didn’t really want to encourage trapping birds and selling them I did want to do something (I hate seeing birds in cages) so we purchased a pair for 20,000 kip/LAK and I later freed them in the bush. At the top we had a bit of a rest and enjoyed the great view over that town. The Temple was similar to many others we have seen before. On the way down the other side of the mountain it was much easier and near the bottom there were many replicas of the woman we had seen going up….all selling the same flowers and cages with 2 small birds inside. Aad and Mike elected not to climb the mountain so they were waiting for us when we came down and we all went across the road to the National Museum.
I was overheating and had guzzled down a bottle of water….which made me feel ill, so I sat in the shade in the National Museum grounds whilst the others took their photos. The gates were being closed for lunch time and we found ourselves trapped as I watched patron after patron being redirected way over to the other side of the grounds….the people on the gate then let a group of Asian tourist through so that was it ….we were going though that gate….my mind was set…..they boys were reluctant to take on the challenge but I was determined……so off I went and when they tried to redirect me I directly questioned them as to why they let the others through and not us…….suddenly locks were being undone and we were being let through!
We all took a stroll down to the river, passing the accommodation where Vince had stayed at previously…..cute bungalows. There we cafes and restaurants all along the river and we watched a ferry coming from the other side of the Mekong. Vince wanted to stop for a coffee but the boys wanted to push on, so we parted ways agreeing to meet up at the Belgian Beer Garden (which we had spotted opposite the little art gallery) for lunch.
The coffee place, Saffron, uses locally grown beans…..a replacement crop for the opium poppies now illegal for the hill tribes. Vince really enjoyed it and I had a nice cup of tea before sharing a chocolate muffin with my husband. The walk along the streets was filled with interest with all sorts going on, mostly daily life but immensely entertaining none the less. We saw all sorts of I amazing vehicles along the way including a little monkey bike that Vince though we should get for me!
We arrived a little before the others at the Belgian Beer Garden so we went back over the road for another look at the art work and eventually we settled on one…..but the price had shot up from the 700,000kip/LAK …..we were originally told they were all the same price, to 850,000kip/LAK ……so we said we would think about it.
Back at the lunch spot we had just got our drinks…..a beer for Vince and a special treat for me….a glass of red wine! Wine and spirits are extremely expensive here due to taxes so I often just have a soft drink….Vince insists I need to learn to like drinking beer as he never misses out…..it’s true….even on tiny roadside stalls where you can’t get water but you can always get beer! Sitting outside we soon spotted the boys who quickly joined us and we all enjoyed a leisurely and delicious lunch. After a second round of drinks, I decided to try to barter for the painting (not something I like doing)….Vince was all for it so off we went and I offered 600,000 this was refused but countered at 700,000 (A$116) so we agreed. They took it out of the frame for us and rolled it up I a bamboo tube….we will have to replace this to get it though Australian customs I’m sure.
We walked back to our hotel and just pottered about for the evening….we didn’t bother with any dinner as we were still full from our late lunch…..true to form we were in bed by 8.30pm….Happy New Year!
We woke up late on 1st Jan – Our First Wedding Anniversary! We had a few plans ….but the day was filled with a comedy of errors….walked miles….post office closed and we were staying at the “Faulty Towers hotel” ……no water yesterday now whaling pipes all night long! We did manage a nice, although expensive, brunch at the Indigo Terrace and a reasonable dinner at Belgian Beer Garden…..our dessert even had a sparkler in it!