Luang Prabang

Date: 13/04/2007 | Author: Dave

I guess the true highlight of this town is us discovering the Khoun and Khone Bungalows. They have six huts on about two acres of land just ten minutes out of town. Gabby, who is the head of research and bookings for the Bracey family, discovered them on the Travelfish website. Their huts are rustic/perfect for us. Our hosts are charming and have a philosophy of including their guests in their life and after a few days we felt more like family than customers. They are happy to run us to and from town in their mini-bus or (Khoun's pride and joy) the Jeep. There is a lot to do here. The Buddhist temples are beautiful and you are never out of sight of them or the orange clad monks. The French colonial architecture looks like it will be well looked after as well, thanks to the town's World Heritage status. There are plenty of good restaurants that cater to western tastes as well as Laos food. Good shopping too (if you like that sort of thing). Especially the night market, which runs through the centre of town every day from about 5pm till 9pm.
On our third night we stir to an amazing thunder storm. We are in a separate bungalow from the kids at Khoun and Khons. We are about 10m apart but in this torrential rain we would never hear them if they were to wake up. Through my happy sleepy haze I hear the pitter patter of Gabby's feet on the path to Ella and Flo's hut just in case.
Our original intention was to stay in Luang Prabang for about five days but we are approaching Lao New Year 2550. Sounds like a big one to me. Also, we are getting a smoke cleansing storm every night now. The air is clear and we can see for miles. We like it here!
We spend a day kayaking down the Nam Pa. Florence is princess passenger in a guides kayak. We are using inflatable rubber kayaks. They do seem stable in the rapids. Ella is doubled up with the second guide except for down one set of rapids where he has fallen off the back and she is on her own for a bit. We stop for a close look at some gold panning. Here they are working in the faster flowing sections and have a mechanised rock crusher. For a closer look at the shiny stuff we pass their wok containing the precious gold dust over our four bobbing kayaks.
One sunny afternoon Khone and Khoun take us to the nearby Kuang Si waterfall. It is about 80m high over limestone and has a series of enticing milky green swimming holes below it. We do the steep climb up one side, across the very top of the falls and down the other. (pic) It is a hard trek in this heat but a long swim is our reward at the end.
It looks like we will stay here till after Laos New Year. The longest stop on this trip so far and for us the longest we have ever stayed somewhere without a beach!!

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