Monday, September 27, 2010

Luang Prabang

First stop Luang Prabang. Much eulogised, it’s a very pretty, small town positioned on a Unesco-protected peninsula of land bordered by the Mekong. No city this. There’s one main street in which faded old French villas have been retrofitted and made into uniform shop fronts consisting of travel agents, cafés, travel agents, restaurants, travel agents, internet cafés and more travel agents. Regardless it is a beautiful place, though it frequently seems as if there are many more westerners here than natives. Everyone, it seems, is looking for a Shangri La.
My room for the two nights was in an ‘atmospheric’ (i.e. old, wooden and cheap) building just off the main street and cost me €3 a night. True Ronseal accommodation and just what I needed. The numerous travel agents here all seem to want you to leave LP, offering trips to nearby waterfalls, caves and other such rural delights but as I’m only here for a couple of days I stick around the town itself to soak up the atmosphere of the place. There are innumerable tuk-tuk drivers here whose main line of work is selling weed and as a sideline they‘ll occasionally offer you transport. It’s amusing though and there are no exceptions to the rule - they’ll loudly shout ‘Tuk-tuk?’ as you walk past and once you’ve shaken your head, they’ll sidle up to you whispering ‘Smoke? Marijuana? Hashish?’

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