Bike Luang Prabang,Laos
Luang Prabang was another of the places Xan had visited before, and he’d really liked it so we were keen to spend as long there as we could. Loved it, it’s a great city. We stayed in a fab guesthouse just back from the Mekong River and close to the night market, bars and restaurants. It was managed by a young guy who regularly played guitar in reception. He was very embarrassed that he had a shaved head and explained why - there’d been a family death, his grandmother and as per Laos tradition when a grandparent passes away, he’d become a monk for a day. We treated ourselves to the most expensive room (still a lot cheaper than many we’d stayed in) which had huge windows on three of the four walls and a big 4-poster bed!
We hired bikes for most of the time we were there and did a 64km cycle! And it was no flat straight road I can tell you! I struggled on the steep hills and though I should have loved the downhill bits I just couldn’t stop thinking that I had to cycle up them on the way back. Xan did have to do a bit of waiting for me, though I did delight in noting he had a total sweat on and struggled with the biggest climb at the end.
The scenery was incredible though and our destination - Tat Kuang Si Falls - just amazing. At the base of the falls is a rescue centre for bears - it’s a pretty small enclosure for the number of bears in there but all the bears were rescued from poachers, so I guess being in there is better than their alternative fate.
Luang Prabang tour, Laos
We started the walk up the falls with a dip in the bottom pool. Had it to ourselves to begin with, our own private pool! Water was pretty cold but we got in, had a swim and it wasn’t long before we were jumping off a huge log into the deep pool.
From there we headed up to another bigger pool that had a rope swing from a tree out over the water. So much fun! We both had about 5 ’one more’ goes! Was a pretty high drop from the swing to the water, brilliant?
As we neared the top of the falls a group of people we were chatting to earlier say they were heading to a pool at the very top of the falls and asked if we wanted to join them. One of the guys had been before which was the only reason they knew how to find it. So we all set off, climbing up bits of waterfall and along river beds. Was so worth it? The pool at the top was amazing - a natural infinity pool. The rock formation meant you could lean right over the edge and look at the water plunging down below.
Before we got back on the bikes for the punishing cycle back we had another couple ‘one more’ shots on the rope swing. Really, it was just so so much fun! The cycle back was tough but not nearly as bad as the cycle there, maybe because we knew exactly what we were in for. On the way tuk tuks carrying the guys we’d been at the top of the waterfall with went passed -they helpfully cheered, waved and teased us with the ice cold beers they were drinking!
I ached the next day and spent it wandering round the town centre and reading and writing by the river. Xan hadn’t had enough and did the same cycle again, but a bit faster without having to wait for me! At the falls he didn’t go all the way to the top but did obviously get in some rope swing action before heading back.
That evening we treated ourselves to a well deserved and well needed massage at a place run by the Red Cross which employs women from violent/abusive backgrounds. I was a bit concerned when a young girl of about 7 showed me to my curtained off mat, thinking that I didn’t think the Red Cross would be an organisation that went in for child labour however it turned out she was just helping out while her mum finished breast feeding her wee sister. Was a brilliant massage, one of the best yet.
While in Luang Prabang we ate lots of amazing food. A lot of them from street stalls - cheap but fantastic. We did though treat ourselves to an amazing meal in a place called Tamarind. Run by a local Laos man and his Oz (I think) wife. Dishes we shared for mains included pork wrapped in banana leaves and bbq’d which was just delicious and we had a dessert made with their own special sauce with purple rice. Like the most amazing rice pudding ever!
We headed by tuk tuk to the local airport on our final day, gutted to be leaving Laos which we’d just loved. The airport did not disappoint, it’s so small that your main and hand luggage goes through an x-ray from the outside into the building and you all queue outside for this to happen. Brilliant last image of Laos before heading back to Thailand.
Bike Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Trek