The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Very Laos Christmas

Days 391-395, December 23-27, 2011

I grabbed the bus from Vang Vieng rather than the minibus as it was a tad bit cheaper and left a few hours later in the morning, allowing me the opportunity to sleep in a bit more. In the end, it probably wasn’t the smartest idea as the bus tends to always arrive a bit later than scheduled because it’s harder to navigate the tight corners on the cliff sides around the mountains than in a mini bus. I still made it in one piece though, and that’s all that matters.

My destination: Luang Prabang, where Lucy, Janine, and I were meeting back up with Isabella to spend Christmas together. Once again, we got into separate guesthouses as we arrived at different times and had no means of contacting each other besides Facebook. So after finding a place in the heart of the old downtown and messaging them, I grabbed a wonderful Oreo Shake from the night market and settled down to sleep as I wanted to be up early for the Alms.

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The Morning Alms is something that happens in any Buddhist community, but Luang Prabang has probably the most famous as they have a heavy abundance of Buddhist monasteries in the town. Because the monks don’t get a lot of food from the monastery(lack of funds I believe), each morning they walk in lines collecting donations of sticky rice and fruit from the locals. It’s seen as being good karma to donate to the monks. The man at reception of my guesthouse even said that if a monk shows up at your door and you have spare food to give, you should give him some. It’s not mandatory if by giving the monk something you yourself will go without food.

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I opted to stay across the street and do my best at getting some photos without interfering. I glared at a few of the tourists that went right up in front of the procession to snap flash photography in the monks faces. That’s just rude in my opinion.

After a quick breakfast at Joma Cafe(owned by Canadians who always have Nanaimo bars ready to serve!), I met back up with Lucy and Janine and Isabella. A day of checking out some of the beautiful temples in the old town area was followed by Christmas Eve dinner at a fancy restaurant before checking out one of the few bars in town. We managed to stay out past midnight to ring in Christmas before everything shut their doors and locked up.

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Christmas Day was an interesting affair. The four of us got together, got breakfast, and grabbed a songthaew out to the Kuang Si Waterfalls to spend the day. The waterfalls were beautiful and made for a great day out. I even overcame my slight fear of the rope swing to jump into the icy cold water, subsequently acquiring a cold in the process.

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When we got back to town we went out for dinner at a street food buffet. For $1.20, you get one plate that you can put whatever you want on. You only get the one, but there’s no limit to how much you can pile on that one plate. We ate like kings(and queens). Grabbing some fresh baked cakes on the street, we went back to my place where we snuggled under the covers and watched The Muppets Christmas Carol. By then my family was up and awake at home so I spent four hours skyping and calling home, making the rounds.

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Boxing Day was another day of random wanderings and relaxation. We watched Love Actually in the afternoon(another Christmas classic) before going for supper. Once again, we went out to the bar after dinner but were surprised(only somewhat) when the bar shut down at quarter to midnight. In Luang Prabang, when everything is shut down but you still want to party, there’s only one place you can go: bowling.

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So we did. It was ten-pin bowling, but I still did fairly well considering(three games: 72, 130, and 126 respectively). You don’t get bowling shoes, you just wear your runners or go barefoot, which was strange for me. Cheap Beer Lao helped though.

The final day in Luang Prabang was another very lazy day where we said goodbye to Isabella and the rest of us worked out our onward transportation.

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The city itself is absolutely beautiful and probably the best place I could’ve picked to spend Christmas(and not just because of the Nanaimo bars, Oreo cookie shakes, and chilly weather). I didn’t get to see as much of the cities temples as I would’ve liked, but I wasn’t leaving with a sense of disappointment. It’s a quiet and beautiful city. Just be sure to wear a jacket at night.

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2 comments:

  1. Looks like you had a wondrous Christmas. Now that we're rushing headlong into Tet here in Vietnam, I can wish you "Happy (Lunar) New Year"!

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  2. Happy Lunar New Year to you too Dyanne!!!

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