On our second to last morning in Nong Khiaw, we awoke to a ray of sun shooting out from the thick clouds — the most sun we had during our entire visit. We had a cheap and delicious breakfast at Sunset guesthouse (though the coffee left something to be desired…). Jason and Caroline were going to attempt one of the strenuous (and not really Noe friendly) viewpoint hikes so Lori, Noe and I were on our own for most of the day.
Due to amazing advances in technology in the past decade, we were able to keep in contact with our friends via “SMS texting” on our “smart” phones. In this way, we were able to receive updates on the progress of their climb and even arrange afterwards to meet at a designated spot. What will they think of next!?
That designated spot was the floating restaurant down on the river. I’m not really sure it has a name, but everyone knows what you’re talking about. Currently, there’s only one.
Turns out, they made it off the mountain safely with all sorts of harrowing stories to regale us with over a couple of local lagers.
After breakfast the next morning, we caught a songteau to the bus station for our 3-4 hour journey back to Luang Prabang.
The minivan drivers were too busy playing pétanque to hit the road on time, so we spent 90 minutes corralling the Mister at the station. Fortunately, it’s not a terribly busy station.
Something cool about the pic above is that you can actually see the lower of two viewpoint platforms Jason and Caroline climbed to the day before (on the outcropping at the top-right of the photo).
A half-day’s journey later and we were back in Luang Prabang!
Our fourth visit to this UNESCO heritage town and oddly enough we’ve never stayed in the same place twice. All the places we’ve stayed in have been great, but there are so many (hundreds???) of options, it’s hard not to want to try something different.
This time around we stayed at Lao Lu Lodge, which I have to say may now be my personal favorite. Don’t get me wrong, Sala Prabang (where we stayed last January with family) is an excellent option, particularly if you book in advance and likely won’t be back to the area for a while. It’s hard to beat the central location of Sala as well (and their breakfast buffet right on the river).
With that said, we found Lao Lu to be an excellent value, just a couple of blocks off from the Grand Palace. It’s a lovingly maintained heritage property, so exudes the charm visitors expect when visiting Luang Prabang, but for about $20 bucks less than Sala (and evidently, much easier to book).
Back in town, we did what we do on New Year’s Eve in the tropics — walk around, soak up the warmth (and sunshine today!) and adequately mark the occasion with copious amounts of food and beverage.
Noe’s obsession with all things elephant continues into the new year.
Luang Prabang’s night market never disappoints! Well, on second thought, it did sort of let us down this time. Caroline and I had our sights set on some incredible fish slippers, not unlike these beauties sold on Amazon.com:
The 10-year-old girl selling them, however, was one tough cookie, and wouldn’t budge on her exorbitant-sounding price. So…we deferred, thinking we’d come back later in the night and try again when she surely would be looking to clean out the rest of her inventory. Sadly, it was not to be on this New Year’s Eve. We returned to the same spot this night and every subsequent night of our stay, but she and her beautiful slippers were not there! We scoured the entire length of the market (which is no small feat if you’ve seen this market) multiple times, with no sign of that rubbery, scaly footwear of the gods.
Which only intensified our celebration of the new year, of course!
Coconut Garden, Luang Prabang Old Town, Lao PDR, 31 January 2017. Nowhere else on earth I’d rather be at the moment, with these crazy kids, nonetheless.