Twists and Turns and Too Many Temples

I’ll be honest, Luang Prabang didn’t really do it for me. It’s one of the highlights of any visit to Laos, and I did like the city, but I didn’t fall in love with it like most people seem to. Maybe five days wasn’t enough time. Maybe I had such high expectations because everyone else seemed to love this city, and I had built it up too much in my head. Maybe I was burnt out on temples. Maybe I was just burnt out in general and aching to be back home with Andy.

Luang Prabang, Laos

The bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang was amazingly beautiful and more scary than any theme park thrill ride. The mountainous journey involved twisting narrow roads that clung to the edge of a cliff with usually nothing to prevent a vehicle (like our bus) from tumbling down the side should the vehicle take a turn too quickly, swerve to avoid oncoming traffic, or just glance away from the road. A girl sitting behind me and Jo actually screamed a few times because she thought for sure we were a breath away from deforesting a few hundred meters of rural Laos with our bus.

However frightening the trip was, the views were stunning. I gazed out the window for hours at the deep valleys and tree-covered mountains that could’ve been a Bob Ross painting. If you’re wondering why I don’t have any pictures here to show you how pretty it was, please see above. It’s hard enough to take pictures in a moving vehicle under normal circumstances, but when the roads are so windy you often end up traveling south when your destination is north, it’s really not worth even taking the camera out of the bag.

When we arrived in Luang Prabang in one piece, Jo and I got a room from a guesthouse owner who came to meet the bus, and then we had dinner with a guy we met on the bus. The next day we found a better, cleaner guesthouse which included WiFi and a shower that could be pointed away from the toilet.

Finally we started to explore the city. Temples were everywhere, but as I mentioned, I was getting a little tired of seeing temples after weeks of traveling through temple-littered Southeast Asia. We walked through the night market a few times, which was interesting and enjoyable since no one harassed us to buy anything. We tried many different local restaurants for dinners but usually stuck to JoMa cafe for lunches. After traveling for weeks, it’s comforting to have a little western food, and bonus that they have free WiFi.

Luang Prabang, Laos, night market

It was during this time that I decided to book a flight home to see Andy for two weeks. I couldn’t pull myself out of my funk and I felt like I was wasting my time on the road when I so clearly wanted to be somewhere else. Somehow I found an affordable ticket just eight days out leaving from Hanoi. After about a week of hanging out with Jo in Laos, I boarded my flight to Hanoi and she spent a few more days in Luang Prabang. Maybe I’ll have to go back some day and have a Laos do-over so I can appreciate the country when I’m in a better state of mind.

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