Laos · 5 Days · 23 Moments · December 2018

Emily's voyage in Laos

31 December 2018

New Years Day We are headed into that last leg of our trip. At the airport now getting ready to fly to Chiang Mai Thailand. We spent the perfect amount of days in Luang Prabang. Oddly enough there was a couple that had the same itinerary as us apparently as we have seen them in every city (all 3 in Cambodia and here in Laos). We are keeping our eyes out for them in Thailand. It would be crazy to see them there too.
New Years Eve After waking up and taking a shower the electricity went out in the town. This happens quite a bit so after finishing breakfast at our villa, we ambled along the street in search for a cup of coffee. Turns out our coffee place Saffron couldn’t make any. We also had about 10 USD to our name and needed to hit the ATM. As you can imagine no electricity = no working ATM. Instead, we sat alongside the river, and read/listened to our books. After about an hour and a half we decided to walk around town to see if anywhere else had power. We found a cute cafe with a backup generator, ordered two coffees and watched the Chiefs game on their WiFi. The rest of the day was relaxed. After taking cold medicine I took a nap and Ryan enjoyed some fun beers. We walked around looking into shops and observing novice monks. We had wine and cheese before enjoying dinner @ Tangor. Just the kind of NYE we like. In bed by midnight :)

30 December 2018

Shopping at the Night Market A great market with yummy cheap eating options. We found the famed elephant slippers, brownies the size of my face, and vibrant clutches. We also had some noodle soup for about $1.65 each. It was the closet vegetarian option I could find to chicken noodle - in hopes of fighting my cold. Tip: the more authentic sellers are at the end of the market where the food alley is located. This is closest to the big roundabout past the national museum.
525 Cocktails & Tapas A bit out of the way of the central part of Luang Prabang, this charming location was perfect. The indoor and outdoor seating both have lovely ambience. Although I did ask for a fire to be started by us and there was a good amount of smoke for awhile. We each had a few cocktails and tapas. Ryan recommends the Smoked Negroni and Buffalo Sliders. I recommend the Jia Ness Fizz + Mac & Cheese
We went looking for my new friend Siphan at his temple, which took a few tries. There are so many temples in Luang Prabang. Luckily everyone seems to know people at other temples and our third time was a charm. We wanted to let him know why we didn’t go to Big Brother Mouse to practice English the day before (scooter accident). He was excited to see us and the last photo is of his temple.
Kopnoi Gallery We absolutely loved the Lao artist P. Noy’s work displayed in this gallery and purchased a new piece for our apartment! This Eco gallery showcases work from local artisans and is in a cute area of town.
Walking down the Main Street, the night market was setting up. We couldn’t help stop and get coconut pancakes. A street food fav for only 50 cents.
1 Hour Mekong River Cruise We started the day a bit late after Ryan went with our Scooter to the repair shop. He paid for our damage and then we walked along the river scouting river cruise pricing. There are many packages, sunset + spa, cave exploration, waterfall visits and more. In the end we went with a local boat owner, paying him directly for a 1 hour cruise, stopping at the silk weaving and paper making village. A chill morning exploring river life. *one shop made paper from elephant dung - I snapped a photo of it drying in the paper making frames

29 December 2018

Laos Buffalo Dairy About 5 km away from the falls in the same road is Laos Buffalo Dairy. This farm rents out buffalo cheaply to locals to help with farm work and plowing the rice fields. Buffalos are very expensive and many people aren’t able to afford them. We tried a cheese plate and ice cream from the cafe overlooking the whole farm. You could take a tour for 50,000 kip as well. A must stop on the way to or from the waterfall.
Kuang Si Falls The water is just as blue as the photos and we are glad to be here during the dry season. The only time you can hike up to see these falls. There are three different swimming areas and we even witnessed a man catching a fish in his swimming shorts. It is a short 10 minute hike to the bottom of the falls from the park entrance. Just 10 more minutes all the way to the largest fall. Entrance fee is 20,000 kip - about $2.25 Well worth it and you could even picnic by the falls if you want. We didn’t swim but the water looked nice and not too cold.
Bear Rescue On the bike up to the waterfalls you pass the sun bear rescue center. Poachers are capturing these bears to cage them in factories. The bile from their gallbladder is used in ancient Chinese medicine so it is painfully extracted from captured and enslaved bears. These bears along with moon bears are much smaller than black, brown, and other bears. These bears were rescued from poachers or factories and live their life in the reserve.
Farms, rice fields, lush mountains, and more are just some of the sites you see in the way to the waterfall. Luckily the road is paved but there are many potholes and a few wooden bridges you have to cross along the way. It took about 50-55 minutes to drive there by scooter. A great day trip! If you don’t want to drive yourself, there are many taxi vans running from Luang Prabang to take you there.
Stopping along the way (scooter drive) to take photos of this amazing temple in a small village.
Scooter Rental We started out the day with an adorable mint green scooter rental to head to the Kuang Si Waterfall and Laos Buffalo Dairy. The rental price is about $14 a day. Sadly we had a little accident after lunch. When turning out into a road Ryan wasn’t able to brake enough and we fell off the scooter in a ditch. He has two big bruises, some road rash and a bit of a swollen eye. I landed on him so I just have a few scrapes and big bruise. Our scooter’s mirror was broken so we will pay for that. This happened outside the diary farm and they nicely gave us ice and let us rest before driving back to town. We are both fine and it didn’t deter from one of the most beautiful rides ever. The Laos country side is stunning!

28 December 2018

Drinks @ Ikon Club Dinner @ Bouang Ikon Club was an interesting place atmosphere wise but great cocktails and right around the corner from Bouang. A cheap Loa fusion restaurant where dinner was only 18 USD! I had green curry gnocchi and Ryan had stuffed peppers. Plus the specialty white Beerloa was yummy. A great place to try.
Big and Little Mouse School English conversations *daily 9-11am and 5-7pm. Meet Siphan. He is Hmong and 16 years old. This evening we walked into the Little Mouse school which invites tourists daily to come in and practice English with locals. It was amazing and memorable. Hoping to see him at his temple tomorrow. I learned so many things from him and Cam, the first boy I spoke with from a village 6 hours away by motorbike.
Lunch @ Khaiphaen then a walk over the bamboo bridge. Trying a local river weed (Khaiphaen) and homage rice cakes with Hmong mushrooms! Yum yum yum :) this restaurant is also a training restaurant in the Friends group (same as in Cambodia) and we were more than happy to support such a great and delicious cause. *walking across the bridge cost 5,000 kip per person (a bit more than 50 cents) and it was much sturdier than I imagined. Given my fear of bridges, I was surprisingly calm the whole time.
After renting a bike we started our trek around the peninsula, stopping at Wat Xiengthong, the most ornate temple in Laos apparently. The gold painted patterns and mosaic tiles. The BEST part of this visit was watching a couple take professional photos in local dress. With permission I was able to take some stunning shots and can’t wait to print them when I get home.
Wat Nong just down the street from our hotel
Waking along the streets.
Saffron Coffee Delish way to start the day. I currently have a head cold, so really needing some extra caffeine as a pick-me-up. Love the Mekong River view.
Local fried noodle with egg for breakfast at Villa Chitchareune. Yummy and I will order it again tomorrow.

27 December 2018

Dinner @ Popolo After arriving a bit delayed, it was night time in Luang Prabang and everything was lit up by twinkly lights. We quickly checked in and noticed our hotel was next to Popolo, which was on my restaurant list. :) A short walk later led us to a gorgeous open air Mediterranean restaurant, decorated in Art Deco. The ambiance was exceptional and the pizza was delish. We were lucky to get a table! There is even an outside bar counter on the street. I think we are going to like it here, was our first thought. :) Tip: even though we only had USD, the restaurant (and many here) gladly accepted it and gave us Laotian Kip in change. Bonus!