Day 267: Luang Prabang, Laos 22/06/2012
Up nice and early for another warm bacon sarnie and we are soon on our way to Luang Prabang. In the minibus with a whole host of people we recognise/have met before - the backpacking trail is a pretty small world it seems. The bus ride is ok but slightly too long to be deemed completely comfortable and we eventually roll into Luang Prabang about two in the afternoon. We take a moment or two to check the map and get our bearings and are soon checking into a nice little place run by an old man, on whom I practice my francais.
We take a shower and then potter around the town - a truly stunning, serenely peaceful riverside town, with an abundance of culture and colonial charm. There are lots of smiling faces around LP and during a quick stroll around, to a nearby temple, we some very excitable young kids playing around and a very grumpy monk taking one of these by the scruff of the neck back to his mum. Trouble for the little boy I daresay. I entertain his friends with my breakdancing skills a bit further down the road and we have an incredible tea. DIY barbecue is the order of the day, pork and glass noodle soup done over the coals on the table in front of us.
Day 268: Luang Prabang, Laos 23/06/2012
After a decent breakfast we find ourselves successfully negotiating the rental of two of the local shop's finest bicycles. We manage to take on the roundabout at the bottom of the road safely, which is no mean feat given my level of cycling proficiency and the traffic coming from the wrong side of the road.
Some sumptuous temples and some serious culture for us vultures and we enjoy an easy morning riding lazily through the streets of Luang Prabang. There is one slight problem in that our bikes don't lock and so we end up carrying our bikes up the flights of steps to the sights we want to see. Hard work but enough to keep us fit...
We check out prices/arrangements for the bus to Hanoi and it seems that it will be a twenty four hour plus journey minimum. Oh well, needs must. We see a temple/pagoda at the top of a hill and decide to take a cross country route to get there. Some serious hill work on the rickety old bike (mine feels like it might break beneath me) allows us some breathtaking views over the city and the surrounding mountains and countryside. There is a rarity on this trip as Demolition Man helps two Lao kids fix the chain on their bike not once but twice. Another superb DIY BBQ is fantastic.
Day 269: Luang Prabang, Laos 24/06/2012
A quiet day today to prepare for tomorrow's epic journey to Hanoi. After a spot of lunch and a gym session, we have a mooch about town (we have become such townies) we have a very quiet afternoon. After teaching three young local lads the game of Uno, I have a couple of hours helping one of the boys with his English, a very rewarding way to pass an otherwise quiet afternoon. The lads tell me that private English lessons cost a fortune - 150 000 kip a month (about £11) for an hour a day of private tuition. A bit humbling when you consider how keen and how enthusiastic he is about it.
We go out for the evening, stumbling across and amazing night market, where as well as some beautiful trinkets and locally produced goods, they do an amazing barbecued chicken and milkshakes. Disappointed once again by England crashing out on pennos.