The jet lag has been overcome, the horrible post-jet-lag cold has been been beaten into submission by time and Theraflu®, and the travel photos have been put on the computer and labeled. I figure it’s high time I start writing about our first trip to Asia.
The first two days of our R.E.I. Laos-Cambodia Multisport Adventure tour were spent astride the husband’s favorite conveyance: a bike. Day One was all about exploring the town of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and our home base for most of the Laos portion of our trip, including:
Mount Phou Si…
… a 100 m (328 ft) hill in the center of the old town that houses Buddhist temples, shrines, and statues, and is often climbed at sunset for the views. We went mid-morning, so while we might have missed the twilight panorama, from what I’ve read, we also missed the elbow-to-elbow tourist hordes as well.
The former Royal Palace…
… which is now a museum. Luang Prabang was the royal capital of Laos until 1975. After seeing so many palaces and castles in Europe over the years, it was fascinating to see a Laotian equivalent. Also, since shoe-removal is the custom here, it’s the first time I’ve ever walked around a palace in my socks.
The temple on the palace grounds could not be entered, only gazed at and into.
Wat Xieng Thong…
… which our guide described as the most impressive temple in Luang Prabang. Built in 1559-1560, just as Elizabeth I of England was getting her first taste of royal rule, it is an explosion of red and gold.
Its grounds also contain, for lack of a better word, a garage. (Actually, there is a better word. It’s carriage house. Still, I find I prefer garage.) This houses the funeral carriage which transports royal remains:
Ban Xang Khok…
… an artisan village on the outskirts of Luang Prabang. This is where we watched locals take dried leaves and turn them into beautiful paper products. Honestly, with respect to flora, if the Laotians aren’t eating it, they’re making it into some kind of product. Very resourceful, those Laotians.
… where the husband and I got our asses handed to us by tour mates Victor & Yvette.
Day Two involved a 40-mile round-trip harder-than-I-was-expecting hilly cycling trek, made all the more difficult by doing it on heavy mountain bikes rather than the sleek and fast road bike I’m used to. Our destinations were:
… in which moon bears are saved from poachers.
Kuang Si Waterfalls…
… one of those must-see places you will learn about with just a modicum of research on Luang Prabang. Most people arrive by tuk tuk, dozens of which zoomed past us as I struggled up the hills.
The falls, which are some of the coldest waters we’ve ever swum in:
And so ended our first two days of pedal-powered sightseeing. Much more was to come… stay tuned.
Read more about our Dust-Farm-Pail List SE Asia adventures:
- Things We Learned from the Travel Medicine Doctor: Laos/Cambodia Edition
- And We’re Off…
- Southeast Asia to Midwest America Jet Lag: What Fresh Hell is This?
- Blog Buddy Meet-up #1: Luang Prabang, Laos
- Laos, Days 1-2: Cycling & Sightseeing
- Laos, Day 3: The Journey to Nong Khiaw
- Laos, Day 4+: Hiking, Remote Villages, and One Really Bad Indian Meal
- Laos, Day 5: Queasy Kayaking
- Day 6: The Journey to Cambodia and a Meal for Adventurous Carnivores
- Cambodia, Days 7-8: Wat a Fabulous Couple of Days!
- Cambodia, Days 9-10: Spending New Year on a Sacred Buddhist Mountain
- Blog Buddy Meet-Up #2: Bangkok, Thailand