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Highs and lows

Sunset hill or river beer?

Tuesday
A relatively late start at 9 am to visit one of the most important temples in Laos, Xieng Thong.
It is an amazing complex of buildings including the temple, a prayer house and meditation house, monastery monks quarters, a boathouse and stupas (tombs). The mosaic walls of the temple are very beautiful. Rich Jewel colours. The finest mosaic is the 6 foot high tree of life, in my opinion anyway. We take lots of photos hoping to reproduce the splendour we see before us. Judy made an offering of flowers in the temple on behalf of the group.

En route to the Kuangsi waterfall we stop at the Hmong village Ban Na Ouane where they run a cooperative. To support themselves the people make handicrafts and sell to tourists and to local shops and stall holders. Most of us buy something to support the community. The little children are so cute dressed in national costume. They look beseechingly at us holding woven articles for us to buy. "Only one dollar"! Can't buy from everyone.

At the falls we have an al fresco lunch at the waters edge. Then the more adventurous among us change into swim wear and scramble over rocks into the crystal clear but chilly water. It is very invigorating! We splash around for a while, listening to the waterfall crash around us and watching some mad fools jump in from an overhanging tree stump. Looks too risky to me, although the middle of the pool is quite deep. I can't touch the bottom.

Back to the hotel passing through an area of teak forests. Thin tells us that most of the wood is exported to China where it is manufactured and passed off as made in China. The teak forests in Laos are fast diminishing sadly.
We are given 15 minutes to get ready for a trip to see the sunset over the mountains and get a choice of riverside bar or the top of a hill. There are 11 in the riverside group and 4 in the hill climb!! Rosie and I decide to go for it and climb mount Phou Si. The exercise will do us good! 390 steps later we reach the top. The place is a frenzy of camera and smart phone toting maniacs all jockeying for pole position. We manage to get a few decent shots against the odds and Thin takes a photo of the 4 of us against the skyline. Going down is harder going than up, as it is so steep. Rosie has to hold Thin's hand all the way as her knee is painful. Well that's what she said...... Brian went to the river bar with the rest of the group 12 steps down and a beer to watch the sunset over the mountain and river in peace!!

We have 45 minutes to get ready for 7 pm when the Tuk Tuk taking us to the night market is booked. Just make it. Phew its all go! But it is our last night in Luang Prabang so its got to be done. For the first time this trip the driver tries to rip us off by asking way over the odds. We are so used to the honesty of the people we forgot to negotiate a fare up front. Live and learn.

The night market is fairly quiet. The boys buy yet another t-shirt each and Christine buys a beautiful table runner. Time to find somewhere to eat. We bump into Brian and Clare from our tour who tell us the recommended restaurant we are heading for is very expensive. We turn back to the main street where there are plenty of others to chose from. Chris and I look at the Coconut Garden menu. Inside the restaurant looks busy. Always a good sign. We agree on it and are ushered to an upstairs table overlooking a pretty courtyard surrounded by trees.

We have had enough of rice and noodles, so the girls choose garlic chicken on skewers and the boys have buffalo steaks, all accompanied by chips salad and soda bread rolls. All perfect! Very reasonably priced too 👍We walk back through the night market as the traders pack up and check the price before getting into the Tuk Tuk back to the hotel. Weary but happy zzzzzz

Wednesday - last day in Laos
Long lie in and late breakfast 😃
Packing, then a morning by the pool in the sun. We have a 3 pm check out for the evening flight to Hanoi.

On a personal note, Brian and I aren't sorry to leave the Palais Juliana hotel. It has some good features but needs updating. The decor is definitely showing signs of age. My bedside light only works when Brian is in bed. Very worrying! We did love Luang Prabang though. Expectations definitely exceeded, trip to the airport is only half an hour

Posted by China reunited 16:45

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