Thursday, February 26, 2015

Asia Trip - Day 16 - Luang Prabang, Laos

Tue 24
Cruise the Mekong River • Explore Pak Ou Cave
We start our day in a local village, Baan Xang Kong, to learn about their paper and textile-making traditions. From there, we'll embark on an excursion along one of the longest rivers in the world. The Mekong River, or "mother of all rivers," supports some 90 million people who produce 54,000 square miles of rice every year. Also home to more species of giant fish than any other river, this majestic waterway is said to produce balls of light along its surface, which the locals attribute to the Phaya Naga, or Mekong Dragons. Our Mekong cruise takes us to a rural village known for producing a local rice "whiskey," and to Pak Ou Cave, filled with thousands of Buddha icons.
Three-wheeled tuk-tuks bring us back to Luang Prabang for some leisure time. In the evening, we'll gather for dinner at a local restaurant.

Wake-up call at 7am and departure at 8:30 am. The breakfast is almost the same everywhere and James and I have both cut back a lot. You really can't do 3 big meals a day. Plus, most of us have an "inside problem" by now and have to be a bit more careful. With the exception of James of course, the man with the stainless steel stomach.

The view is so nice but at this time of the morning it is very fresh. I am too lazy though to go back to the room for my vest. Tomorrow.

The tree doesn't seem to have any leaves but the flowers are gorgeous. Ole says they are in the kapok family.

First stop: we get shown how to make paper.

It is a mulberry tree and the bark is boiled for 5 hours.

The pulp is then beaten for I don't know how long,

The screen is laid in shallow water. She added a handful of pulp and swished it around evenly. Then she added leaves or petals and the screen is taken out of the water and the water drains. Three hours in the sun and voila.

Of course there was a shop.

Across the street they had something special for sale. Most food runs through the elephant without being much digested so it's full of fiber = pulp. And it doesn't stink because he is vegetarian.

Then we walk to the river.

Ole produces a new map. I bet he has drawn it himself. We get a good lecture about the Mekong River and how it runs through 6 countries. Of course some countries having built dams greatly influences the other countries and not necessarily for the better.

Chears tells us about himself and his family. He and his wife sometimes sing together and he gives us a sample.

We will make a short stop here. The children are already waiting.

We are visiting the whiskey maker.

We get a sample. I am very VERY reluctant but then I think that I can't do more damage. And guess what? I seem to be cured for the rest of the day. It's really very much like Grappa.

Would anybody like to take a bottle home with a snake in it?

In the same place a few weavers. Somehow it doesn't look to me as if they are working on weaving all day long. China? Love the rooster though.

You will not believe what they are doing. Chears says if a family has some free time quite often they go to the river and pan for gold.

See the man to the right carrying the sand to the edge of the river? Chears says they could get lucky and find $300 worth on a day. Or 50 cents.

Then we reach the cave with thousands of Buddhas. It seems that a good number of tourists like to see it.

The floating bamboo boardwalk is something else. Feels like walking on a trampoline.

When we are going down again I spot something on the other side of the river ... smack in the middle if the picture. It's an elephant with a rider on his back.

When we get back to the boat lunch is served. Food is plenty and very delicious as always. I inquired and found out that Mr and Mrs own the boat and they live on it. Their children are grown and basically gone studying or working. He is the captain and she cooks (of course it has to be by OAT standard).

And ... lots to see.

Sonyeon had not wanted to come for the river cruise. He was afraid to fall in. He did marvel about the toilet paper though. Why was there a picture of a cat on it?

Tuk tuks bring us to the hotel and later back to the city for dinner.

So much leftover. Since it is not on people's plates but on platters and bowls, may be it does not have to be thrown away.

Tuk tuks bring us back to the hotel. It is much colder by now.

We have to get up very very early tomorrow. So, night night.

1 comment:

  1. I would have been extremely tempted to over-spend in that paper shop. Beautiful paper and cards are one of my (many) weaknesses!

    I was interested in the caves with all the Buddhas and tried to find some information about what they were doing there. At is said, “These caves have been used for centuries as a repository for old Buddha images that can no longer be venerated on an altar, either because they are damaged to the point of disfigurement – termite holes, burn marks and broken limbs being afflictions common to wooden Buddhas – or simply because newer images have crowded them out. “ I thought that was interesting.

    I don’t know if you’ll remember from Christmas Eve meeting the two young women who are our next door neighbors. One of them was over the other night – picking up some leftover soup for their dinner – and mentioned that her parents are in Thailand for 3 weeks. So they were there when you were! She remembered both of you very well and we all said “Small world”!