No Reservations

Luang Prabang is a funny place — and even funnier in peak season. In Vientiane, no reservations? No Problem! In Luang Prabang…oh boy.

It’s January 1st. Do you know where your empty beer bottles are?

I don’t even know where to start…

The Mister started 2018 with a big ol’ piece of baguette. Oui Oui! Uh Huh!

My favorite place to grab a coffee in all of Laos — Saffron. Yes, they’re located in a pretty darn amazing heritage property (now with river front seating across the road). But their coffee is why I keep coming back. 100% Luang Prabang single origin Arabica. And…100% delicious.

We couldn’t possibly come to Luang Prabang with visitors and not take them to Wat Xiengthong, now could we?

Clown in training?

 

Photo credit: Caroline M.

Doing the Asian squat.

Collecting rocks around the temple…

…and loading his pockets with them. Is this generating good or bad karma? I’m not so sure.

Elephant obsession continues. BARAAG!

No joke, that’s actually the official word for an elephant trumpeting, according to the onomatopoeia dictionary writtensound.com. Don’t ask me how I discovered that one…

 

 

 

New season, new bamboo bridge!

Photo credit: Jason M.

 

 

Taking a walk on the wild side…or at least the non-UNESCO (i.e. normal) side of the Khan river.

Someone partied like it was the Gregorian New Year last night!

 

 

 

Our dear Lao Lao Garden. Just mere days after we took this pic we were told by our next set of visitors that Lao Lao had moved down the road into a smaller and less atmospheric location. Quite possibly our favorite bar in Laos. Gutwrenching.

Jazz hands!

 

 

He does this now any time he sees a reclined Buddha, which he generally follows up with a “Shhhhhhh.”

Luang Prabang’s famous night market in full effect.

An assortment of local produce at the Morning Market. The flower petals are Dok Khae Pa, used in a variety of dishes, fried or boiled.

Back at one of our perennial favorites in LPB — the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center. It’s fun to see which of the items in the kids play area strikes the child’s fancy this time around. Sadly, our beloved Yao hat was not one of them.

A different story a year ago…

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived in Luang Prabang this time around, we had our list of must-eats, must-dos, etc. Given the new year holiday and high season in general, we knew we’d have to call ahead to reserve one or two of the places. Little did we know, we’d have to do so DAYS in advance. We might have been so miffed coming from straight from a major U.S. city, but the reality in Vientiane is that you never need reservations for a seat — NEVER EVER EVER. I’m not even sure they exist in Vientiane. Sure, if you want a seat up close to the stage at KuaLao, you’ll want to call ahead. But food? Forget about it. Massages? Unless there’s some sort of delegation from China or there’s a blood moon, forget about it. In LPB, totally different story this time.

I’m not sure what compelled Lori to call up Tamarind and Coconut Garden first thing when we got into town, but she did. And good thing. We were able to secure Coconut Garden for that night (albeit a little later than we wanted), but Tamarind…there was a three day wait on that one. So, we booked it three days out.

As for the five top Lao massage parlors in Luang Prabang — they were either fully booked through our stay or insanely expensive — like U.S. PRICES. We all knew we weren’t going to do that. I managed to find a place on the main drag that got decent reviews and was a decent deal for Lao standards. Jason wasn’t as keen on the Lao massage, which didn’t exactly disappoint Noe (or the rest of us). Noe would get his tio time and we’d get some spa time. Win-win.

Well, Sabai Sabai was what you might expect for the price point on the main tourist drag in a UNESCO town. Not a ton of value, but did the job. The three of us were put in a room separated by curtains. I got a dude masseuse, which was fine, but absolutely unexpected considering out of the dozen or so Lao massages I’ve had here in Laos, they’ve always been performed by women. Guess that’s how they roll in LPB.

And just FYI, apparently the best place (certainly for the money) to go in Luang Prabang for a top notch Lao massage is the Lao Red Cross. No joke.

One thing Sabai Sabai did have over the competition was a Fish Spa. Lori and I have had our toes (and everything else, it seems) nibbled on in various natural settings across Central America (Yucatan cenotes and Semuc Champey to name a couple), but never a proper Fish Spa. Neither had our friend Caroline. So this was a first all around. I’m pleased to report they were VERY hungry.

 

Confucius say…

Hint:

Obviously. What did you think the sign meant?

On our last night, we finally get to introduce Jason and Caroline to our favorite restaurant in LPB (and apparently everyone else’s too): Tamarind.

January 2nd and about as perfect weather as you can have anywhere. We’ve got a riverside table, good company, and Noe’s relatively content with his wooden car. Food and drink are on their way. Doesn’t get much better.

Here comes the party! For some reason Noe saw the waiter coming and started to chug his water. Perhaps he’s been spending a bit too much time with adults in bars lately. Bottoms up! Oh, wait. Who ordered those

And now, what we’ve all been waiting for: the first plates of THE FOOD.

Photo credit: Caroline M.

And now what Noe’s been waiting for: OUR LIMES (without the alcohol … of course … ).

The next morning, we caught the first flight back down south. 25 minutes on the A320. Love it. As soon as we level off at our “cruising altitude” of 14,000 feet, we we start our descent. And, as this isn’t a U.S. domestic flight (HORRID HORRID HORRID), we actually get a snack (tuna sandwiches) and a beverage, even in the short timeframe.

We get into Vientiane around 9am, grab brunch and rest up while Lori pops into work for a half day. In the evening, Noe stays home with the sitter while the four of us go out for sundowners on the Mekong, then dinner at our favorite French restaurant (La Vendome), and finally, nightcaps at the newly renovated Namphou Park, finishing up just in time to take Jason and Caroline back to the airport for their midnight flight to Seoul, thus capping another fun-filled visit from friends and family.

One more to go this season! Who will it be…?

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