Luang Prabang

Following my fall in the mountains we were able to make it all the way to Luang Prabang. My hip didn't hurt as much as it did after my fall in India where I hadn't even been able to put weight on my leg for several days. We had patched up some of the damaged plastic with cable ties after the fall, and here we could take some time to put a few screws in and brace it a little better. Besides, staying a few extra days here could hardly be called being stuck. Luang Prabang is one of the old provincial capitals from the days when this area was known as French Indochina. The old provincial part of the town sits on a peninsula that is a narrow finger of land formed where the Nam Khan joins the Mekong river. The place is a treasure of old provincial architecture, and there is still a large French presence here, and it remains popular with Europeans. Above the Mekong is seen from the balcony of our room in one of the town's sleepy guest houses.

On our first day in Luang Prabang we came across this scene. This woman is obviously auditioning for the position of poster girl for the warnings seen in every guide book and tourist brochure of how NOT to behave when visiting Asia's holy places. If she had only patted one of the monks on the head and pointed her feet towards the temple she could of covered all of the taboos that foreign visitors are constantly reminded about.

With only four blocks between the two rivers, the shores of both were lined with peaceful cafes with many small pedestrian lanes running in from the rivers.

As I had mentioned, I had not been immobilized by my hip, and although the accident happened on Thursday morning, on both Thursday and Friday there was little swelling. But in the middle of the night Friday the pain woke me, and on Saturday morning I woke with the swelling at left which left me a little concerned. Now, Laos is not exactly what you might call a destination for medical care, but with so many Chinese working in Laos, Luang Prabang had a Chinese funded facility called the Chinese Laos Friendship Hospital on the edge of town. An x-ray determined that nothing was broken, and the doctor advised me that the best thing to do was to watch it over the next few weeks and then have it looked at in Thailand. By the following tuesday the swelling had mostly subsided but the bruise had spread to below the knee.

One of the best things about Luang Prabang, for me at least, were the cafes along the provincial quarters main street. After more than eight months in Asia, these places represented some of the best breakfasts I'd had in a long time. I should be clear about this. NOBODY does breakfast like America, but this place was close.

Away from the river, many of the boutique hotels were restored colonial era villas (above), and the town's museum (below) is in a former royal palace. 

The next time before I get on my high horse about the hootchie-mama attire of certain people in honored places I will have to remind myself that the signs here said "No footwear, shorts, T-shirts, sun dresses, or photography." In my defense, I was fully clothed.

Before we knew it more than a week had slipped by and we figured it was time to start heading south. We had already foregone the notion of getting into Cambodia because of visa issues. Now it looked as if my hip was going to keep us off of the notoriously bad roads going to Laos' Plain of Jars. We decided to break up the trip to the capital in Vientiane with a stop in Vang Vieng, so we reluctantly said goodbye to Luang Prabang's tricked out tuk-tuks and Mekong sunsets.