June 27, 2013

Throwback Thursday: My Unexpected Love for Luang Prabang

It was back in early 2012 when my ex-colleague and I randomly chatted how we both wanted to backpack around SouthEast Asia. He shared how he did it few years ago during his university gap year and how he still wanted to visit those places again. I, on the other hand, wanted to visit those I haven't been to.  

On our list was Hanoi Vietnam, Siem Reap Cambodia, Koh Samui Thailand, and Laos. We have to find a way how to travel to these places safely without sacrificing time and visit at least three on the list. During our search, we luckily found out that Bangkok Airways has a discovery airpass thing. This type of routing and booking allows you to choose international and domestic flights operated by Bangkok Airways and Lao Airlines within some of the SouthEast Asian countries/cities. All you have to do is plot out your desired route based on the routing schedule they have already set. Unfortunately, a flight departing from Singapore is not included in their routing. But don't fret, because lots of budget airlines fly out of Singapore to either Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and even Laos. Wherever you plan to start your trip from Singapore, that would be your starting point of the discovery airpass. Cool right?

We both agreed that our route will be - Bangkok - Luang Prabang - Bangkok - Koh Samui - Singapore - and later on decide to travel by bus to Vientiane and take a train to Bangkok if time permits us. I flew out from Singapore to Bangkok and spent a couple of days touring the city. From Bangkok, I met up with my friend and we both flew to Luang Prabang, Laos. In this enchanted city, we spent 4 days exploring. The place captivated my soul. I never ever imagined that Luang Prabang is such a beautiful place. I thought that its one of those rural places where you get to ride an elephant or trek to a mountain. But its even more that. I did not have great expectations before we reached the place. I just thought it would be one of those places I could tick off the world map. How wrong I was! 

Buffet dinner for 10,000 kips (equivalent to around 2SGD)

Our cool tour guides. The older man trekked barefoot and he has been doing that for years already :(

The trekker wannabe in havaianas flipflops haha :P

The most refreshing dip after the very long trek in the woods. 

Fave breakfast cafe :) Love their sandwich omelet and Lao coffee is the best :)

The Royale Palace Museum. 

There were so many first time experiences in this place. I trekked for hours wearing my flip flops to one famous waterfalls, which must have impressed my Australian tour mates (glad I survived without any scratch). I immersed myself a lot with the locals - ate their food everyday, sipped beer Lao, chatted with local vendors and school kids. Most importantly, it was the first time that I didn't have any itinerary on hand. I just went there and lived by the moment. I did not plan my day. I spent it according to my mood. It was such a liberating experience. Not tight and hectic. Just pure fun and chill. It was a plus that we visited during the cool season so the weather was a perfect accessory to the place.

Early morning in Luang Prabang is a sight to behold. The monks parade along the streets to gather food donations from the residents. Amazing how these guys do this everyday. They prepare the basics like bags of rice, coffee, and some fruits. Must be their way of thanking them for their prayers. It was very enlightening to watch.

Did I mention that the sunset in Luang Prabang is amazing? Catch a glimpse of its beauty at Phu Si Hill in the centre of the town just opposite the Royal Palace Museum. Since its quite a climb to reach the top, load yourself with water and prepare to pant and sweat heaps. The place could get really crowded in the afternoon when everyone else wanted to take a photo of the lovely sight. You can try to check the place early morning to catch the sunrise instead, you'll likely to have the entire spot to yourself. 

After Luang Prabang, we traveled by bus for 12 hours to another city in Laos - Vientiane. According to my friend the bus ride was a lot better compared to his trip before. Roads and buses have changed. From Vientiane, we took the overnight train to Bangkok. Then off we went to Koh Samui then back to Singapore. All in all the trip took us 10 days or so.

Details of the other trips will be in another blog post. For now, enjoy my love for Luang Prabang, Laos. I will definitely go back with my husband and little boy. I want them to experience the beauty I saw in that place.

P.S. Photos above were taken by my friend.

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