Today, we flew into Luang Prabang, Laos which was absolutely beautiful from above. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 33 temples and 111 other sites designated as World Heritage status. It is also a tourist location for those “seeking themselves” in Southeast Asia – something we hope to avoid during our time here. That being said, Laos is gorgeous from above – lush mountains, and beautiful cloud cover.
The process of actually arriving in Laos is fairly amusing – you pull into the tiny airport (one AirAsia flight a day, two gates total), and then wait in line to be processed for a visa upon arrival. Then, depending on your nationality, you wait to pay for your visa upon arrival. Then, you wait to process through immigration and actually enter the country. All told for all three steps was about an hour. Then, we wandered through the sleepy town for a couple hours until sundown.
Most amusing are the spices and the variety of street foods available, which ranged from sausages to noodles, to fresh veggies, eggs, and raw meat.
Of course, there are many Wats in the area, including several that we were able to see parts of from the street as we wandered around the night market area. Interestingly, Luang Prabang is a mix of a traditional style old Southeast Asian city, mixed with modern influences. This was perhaps most apparent at one of the Wats, where we could hear the Buddhist monks chanting in time, and then simultaneously the bass pumped from a tent next door, where locals were celebrating the same holiday with a little more drink and karaoke.
What’s amazing about the night market and the regular markets is the variety. At one stand, a woman offered samples of four different types of local liquors, and at another we saw a woman with about five different types of rice available, and three different types of eggs.
We continued to walk down to the Mekong River, which was beautiful and accompanied by a couple of Wats along the way.
As you can tell, the water has somewhat ruined the bridge connecting the two sides of the river due to the monsoon rains. We then wandered up to the market again as night fell looking for somewhere to grab dinner.
We found a great stand where a woman was cooking fresh made sausages, along with a ton of other options, including noodles, fresh spring rolls, fried spring rolls, and her daughter ran a baguette truck at the next stand over (similar to what I suspect bahn mi will be like in Vietnam).
We ultimately ordered a sausage, which was delicious. Then, we ended up back at the hotel for a small dinner. Overall, a great start to Laos!