Traveling has its difficulties. Living out of a suitcase can get pretty old. Arriving at a hotel to discover that it smells like sewage can be pretty depressing. Travel days are exhausting. But the worst part of traveling is traveler’s diarrhea, or as I like to call it ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’
This is a special kind of ‘food poisoning’, where your gut bacteria decides that it doesn’t like a new cuisine and proceeds to evacuate everything from both your stomach and intestines at such a violent pace that you end up with sore ribs.
I spent the first 24 hours of our 3 days in Luange Prabang wishing for death…or that at least the smell of sewage in our hotel would subside. Luckily, this never seems to get me sick for more than 24 hours, and by day 2, I was able to go out and explore the city. I quickly fell in love.
Luang Prabang’s History
Luang Prabang is located in North-Central Laos. The main city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage sight due to its many Buddhist relics and well preserved historical buildings.
It’s a small city, but has a tonne of history. Because it was the capital during Laos’ French Colonial period, there is a tonne of really cool architecture in the town. The mixture of colonial and traditional Laos buildings make it a great place for taking photos!
Buddhism in Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang translates to ‘The Royal Buddha Image’. I imagine this is because this is the town to see if you want to see Laotian Buddhist Architecture. We saw countless temples while we were there. I actually lost count of which ones were which, so I apologize that I can’t properly label them.
Some temples were extra interesting. Dave found one that had this really interesting rock jutting out in front of it. Another is said to have Buddha’s footprint in it. Buddha was apparently HUGE!!!
Luang Prabang is also known for a daily ceremony of local monks. Each day, at around 6am, monks walk the streets, asking for alms (donations). We never actually saw the procession, because as far as I’m concerned, 6am doesn’t exist when I’m on vacation, but it would be pretty neat to see. We did stop at one monastery, though, where I followed a cat around and got some really neat shots of it, with the Monk’s robes drying in the background.
Handicrafts in Luang Prabang
As interesting as temples can be, they aren’t the only things Luang Prabang has to offer. There are several craft villages around the city. We attempted to visit 2 of them, but only one of the trips was successful.
We had better luck in the Paper and Weaving village, where we bought more than one souvenir!
On Our Way to the Waterfall
The best part of our trip to Luang Prabang though, was without a doubt, the trip to Kuang Si Falls.
There is more than one way to get to the falls. Most people take a tour with a group or with a Tuk Tuk driver. We opted to rent a motorbike instead, and found our own way, which was half the fun!
The first thing you see when you enter the park, is actually a bear sanctuary. Asiatic Black Bears (also called Moon Bears) are incredibly cute, but are also becoming incredibly endangered. They are captured all over Asia for use in Chinese Medicine.
Bear Bile has been used in Chinese medicine for over 1000 years. The bile is mostly used to help with gal bladder and liver conditions. Fortunately, there are herbal options that are equally effective as the bear bile; unfortunately, people in China still think the bear bile is better. As a result, Asiatic bears are captured and literally tortured for years for the sake extracting bile from their gal bladders.
The bear sanctuary has saved their bears from these farms. They also rescue bears who have been injured in traps. We saw one bear lumbering around clumsily because it was missing one of its front paws He made me think of my sweet Hugo, and how adaptable animals can be.
If you ever want to get me a Christmas or Birthday present, but aren’t sure what I’d like (and don’t want to pay outrageous shipping fees), please donate to ‘Save the Bears’ or any of the other organizations I’ve mentioned in past posts.
The Kuang Si Falls
The falls themselves are well worth the trip, no matter how you decide to get there. They go on for ages, and the final view of the big falls is absolutely stunning. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for me…
As you continue up the hill, there are places you can actually swim at the falls. Dave and I both regret not bringing our bathing suits, as this would have been a gorgeous spot to go for a dip!
As we continued on, the falls got bigger and more beautiful.
The scenery around the falls was very nice as well. Even the garbage cans were cute, and there was an old water wheel as well.
Finally, we arrived at the big falls, which are even more beautiful than the little ones! I hadn’t actually looked at the pictures online, so I wasn’t expecting anything this gorgeous, so it was a rather awesome surprise when we arrived at this point.
So that’s it for Luang Prabang. I’ve got plenty more to write, as we are now in Ho Chi Minh City! Stay Tuned!!!