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the wonderful Mekong

the lifeblood of our world is water and it was refreshing (excuse the pun) to watch a doco (the limited channels here do provide 3 English speaking channels BBC, CNN & DW – a german production) that shared the establishment of a transportable filtering system for use anywhere. The down side is that there are still 1 in every 9 people in our world going hungry every day… no doubt, some of them are in Lao. Duesch World also shared a story about Whale Fishing, a company that is touring the channels of Amsterdam scooping the plastic waste from its waterways. They recycle this and use it to make boats! There are now even tourist tours where you can help collect.

Here, the Mekong dominates and this was a feature of our first tour day yesterday, a highlight for many the hours spent on the water chugging our way upstream (2 hours) and costing down (one). It is surprisingly perilous with rocky outcrops marked by floating plastic bottles used as markers along with large concrete cairns where you can se the rocks protruding.

Ken (conveniently westernised for us ‘falang’) was our guide and we began by walking from our uncomplicated lodgings (no Royal Crown Hotel but does have the basics and according to the locals, pretty typical….. and certainly affordable – thanks James) down the road, to….

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One of the great things is that our guest house is right in the heart of the old town and walking to the key sights isn’t an issue. The museum is actually the home of the royal family, their personal wat and palace. The family itself is in exile in Europe, fleeing after the uprisings of 1975 (a BIG year in this region) and the formation of the people’s democratic republic (which is actually communist?). Inside, it is cover up, shoes off, no pictures and no touching…. what is inside is opulent as in rich! and one room is full of gifts from other nations including a boomerang from the Aussies and a piece of lunar rock from the Yanks.

And then the Mekong and Pak Ou caves…. our 43 seat boat was on the upmarket side and quite restful…. riverside life is simple with terraced gardens and children splashing and laughing… pretty hard to find any down side to this journey. And then there are the caves…. full of buddas, this is a temple of its own, the notion being that the water that drips through the limestone, provides nourishment for them which then flows into the Mekong and downstream to the people….blog 10b blog 10b1 blog 10b2 blog 10b3 blog 10b4 blog 10b5 blog 10b6 blog 10b7 blog 10c

and in the wonderful Luang Prabang world of dubious internet provision, it is going to be a halt to this blog so we can catch our 8.30am transport for the 2nd day of our tour…. till later


and we’re back! it seems that the mid afternoons when most tourists are out (or business demand means stronger signal?) when internet is at its best… so back to yesterday

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conveniently, across the river are a few restaurants… and of course, the tour operator had one he could recommend (as you do…) As per normal, prices were elevated when in such a tourist driven site…

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and then back on to the river as we headed downstream to the silk village…. there was an offer of a visit to the lao-lao (aka whiskey) village but we politely declined.. getting a bit tired now, lulled by the hum of the motor, the lapping water against the hull, the comfy seats, the warm sun and the fresh air..

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there was no haggling in this village and the recycled paper and hand made silks were only surpassed by the elephant dung cards and jungle vine tree of life designs (these sell for a million kip each…. 125USD)… just in case you were wondering the life cycle of a butterfly (egg – worm – pupae – butterfly) is 45 days in summer with a bonus 15 in winter… the butterflies die 3 days after laying their eggs and the silk comes from the cocoons (from 200 – 500 metres each one).

To finish the day we went to the herald champion of all wats in LP… the Wat Xieng Thong (yep, got it wrong the other day, that was Wat Pha Mahathat)… and it is a real beauty… the remains of past rulers are housed here and the gold trim is bedazzling…

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and then we had our (becoming a regular event) afternoon quiet time before heading off for yet another night market assault…. and that’s another blog…

final words for this one..

we love.. Luang prabang

Leigh (just gunna make up gender non specific names now as the team is not being overly creative)

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