After leaving Paksé to go to Vientiane where we stayed for 4 days, we spent Christmas in Luang Prabang before going down to the capital to get our Thai visas.
Capital of Laos, Vientiane is the beating heart of this sleeping country, a modern city where tourists merge with Laotians. The few days we spent here will have been both calm and agitated because life is active during the day but a curfew imposed to fight alcoholism quickly plunges the city into a deep sleep. There is nothing to stop Laotians from continuing to drink once the doors of their homes are closed.
We feel the tourist influence, we are dropped in THE tourist district where French, Italian and Indian restaurants fight over the piece of pavement. Night markets, souvenir shops and trendy bars quickly make us forget the authenticity of Laos we have met so far.
Little note, one evening around midnight (well after curfew) Matthew, then accompanied by his brother and some friends, found themselves isolated by soldiers who threatened them with their weapons and handcuffed them. From the pure and simple Racket, one of the guards took the opportunity to take marijuana out of his pocket by accusing them of having found the bag on the ground. A nice sum of 200€ is then claimed which will be 100€ after negotiation. After reporting to the French Embassy, they admit that this is unfortunately quite frequent. The curfew is not there for nothing, the fact that the streets are empty encourages the police to do their little tricks…
Arriving early in the morning in this small town of 70,000 inhabitants, we witness the monks’ almsgiving, the Tak Bat. This almsgiving allows them to feed themselves because monks are not allowed to earn or spend money. Luang Prabang being a very high symbol of Buddhism, the population is very fervent towards their religion. The thousands of monks and dozens of temples covering a third of the city’s surface area reinforce the spiritual character of this city perched in the middle of the mountains.
Luang Prabang looks like a real small mountain village, surrounded by a mountainous crown, the temperature is much milder. The surroundings of the city are surrounded by waterfalls, caves populated by religious statuettes and elephant camps.
A short-organized visit allowed us to take part in the life of a farming village in Lao Lao (Lao Whisky), the sacred caves of Pak or and we ended the morning with a ride on the back of an elephant. Kuang Si waterfalls, a 60-metre waterfall providing about ten natural swimming pools or swimming and rope jumping, allow you to relax in an almost wild forest. A natural bear reserve on the way to the waterfalls, bears rescued from poaching and recovered by the centre.