Luang Prabang – ‘The times they are (probably) a changing’

The old town in Luang Prabang is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also one of the more relaxed places that we have visited in South East Asia. There are plenty of visitors, but at this point in time, they are not of the density encountered elsewhere. As a bonus, tourist buses are not allowed in the old town and the local traffic is very moderate and travels at a far more sedate pace. The city is easily covered on foot or by using the free bikes that most accommodation places offer.

The food is extremely good and we are yet to encounter an establishment that we would not return too. We look forward to our evening culinary expeditions and the new and delicious dishes that we will get to taste.

However, on the last stage of our cruise to Luang Prabang we passed under the new high speed rail link between China and ultimately Bangkok. Due to be opened in 2021 it will make Luang Prabang extremely accessible to the growing army of tourists from China. In the process, I suspect that the very features that had made Luang Prabang such a great destination for us, will be lost.

Here is a photo tour of the town:

We are staying across the Nam Khan river and the most efficient way to get into town is to walk across this bamboo bridge. We have seen images of the bridge dating back to the 1930’s and yes it is temporary and only appears at the end of the rainy season (around Dec) until the next monsoons. Ruth, Joe and Beth are dressed to combat the cool, misty-morning temperatures. However, the skies clear around 10am and the temperature immediately climbs by 15+c.
The view up the Nam Kham from the road above the bamboo bridge.
The ‘main drag’ of the town a mix of old French colonial buildings and shop-houses
Some are in excellent condition while a few need a little TLC – it all adds to the character
An old Citroen adds a little more character to the building of the same era.
You are never far from a Wat (or two)


which means that there are plenty of Monks wandering the streets or,
unusually, plying the Nam Khan
The local Tuk Tuks are a little different to those encountered elsewhere
and the locals find any number of ways to get from A-B
while keeping in the shade.
There are a couple of great vantage spots above the town. Phousi hill affords great views of the town, Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. 
While wandering we encounter many foods drying in the street – chillies
Buffalo meat sausages
and yes – Ruth is back on a bike. Here she is leading the charge towards the next shop – we found Mulberry paper makers along this road and she managed to relieve them of some of their wares.
Some of the many remnants of the ‘secret war’ 240 million cluster bombs were amongst the massive tonnage of explosives dropped on the country. Of these, an estimated 80million did not detonate. They are around the size and shape of a tennis ball and appeal to young children. Clearing of UXO is an ongoing exercise and a visit to the UXO visitor centre is a sober reminder of the challenges the country still faces.
There are many shops offering local weaving and textiles and these are like ‘honey pots’ to Ruth who buzzes into each one. Here Joe undertakes a count of the remaining stores along this stretch of road while I scout for a shop free route home.










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