~ 90 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~
First month of the new year and the travelogue has begun: Went on my first ladies trip, finally :D
Really glad we chose Luang Prabang as the destination, for it was so amazing, and definitely exceeded our expectations!
Disclaimer: I am no travel blogger, so this blog isn't going to be about recommendations of stay or suggested itineraries.
I'm going to take the opportunity instead to highlight my favourite experiences from the entire trip (in order of time of day ;))
Pre-sunrise: Alms giving ceremony
We set our alarms to ring pre-5am, to find our places along the main temple street, in quiet anticipation of the saffron-orange robed monks in silent procession before dawnbreak - the alms giving ceremony was s spiritual experience to say the least. Our hotel had kindly packed sticky rice offerings for us to give to the monks, as part of the ceremony. As we moved back to our place of accomodation, as the sun's first rays broke out into the dark sky, there was a sense of deep calm, surrender and gratitude within.
Early morning: Kuang Si waterfalls
Post breakfast, we headed to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls. We walked through the black bear sanctuary, until we finally set eyes on the first pool of the terraced blue (thanks to the limestone apparently) waterfall. As we hiked up, the view only got even more gorgeous - and yes, they were just like the snaps on Instagram #nofilter! The ecstasy of the falls, got heightened upon actually taking a dip in the near-freezing water! What a joy it was - despite the cool temperature, to swim to the waterfalls, and even dive into it from a protruding tree bark - was probably one of my most fun moments from the trip!
Late morning: Temple hopping
We strolled/cycled around town using GoogleMaps and visited many a temple. They might all seem similar from afar, but each temple had its own thing of beauty speaking for itself. Wat Xieng Thong's walls and doors in gold, against black/maroon were to behold; Wat Manoram had just the most beautiful coloured Buddha paintings adorning it's walls; Wat Sensoukaram had a large standing Buddha at the fore; and such. Monks walked about doing their prayers etc, and fellow travelers flocked the premises, listening to guides or clicking snaps on their cameras/phones. The temple of the Royal Palace stands as an iconic structure in the middle of the main temple street as well. And though, one can only circumambulate around, it still is one of the oft-visited temples, given all the intricate work done in gold.
LunchTime: Foodies haven
We enjoyed authentic Laotian food at restaurants, which also host cooking classes - like 'Tamarind' - which blew us over with their refreshing drinks, 'dips platter' and the succulent stuffed lemongrass; and 'Bamboo Tree' which gave foodies like me a taste of everything with their set meals, so brightly laded in 'thalis' made of bamboo. In addition, given that Laos was a French colony - we also enjoyed some delicious baguettes.
We could have chosen to take a dip at the swimming pool - but instead we chose to explore further. One day, we walked across the bamboo bridge to discover a lovely jewelery making (work)shop, much to our delight; another day, we went back in time, walking through the corridors of what once was the Royal Palace, now a Museum. Our favourite answer to the sweltering heat however, was to lay back and enjoy some relaxing spa time!
CoffeeTime: Caffeine Fix
The cafe culture was something we were pleasantly surprised to find. There were quaint cafes at various corners and bylanes. We really liked the coffee at 'Indigo Cafe'; and found ourselves, tracing our steps back to the same coffeehouse, on many a occasion. Mentionworthy is also the book cafe: 'Novelty'; A visit to the much-acclaimed 'Saffron Coffee', by the riverside, was made on our last day and we were glad we finally made it there - wish we could have spent more time though.
Sunsets were simply captivating. One evening we climbed up and hiked 300 odd steps, atop Mount Phousi to behold our first sunset there, overlooking the town of Luang Prabang. Another evening, we boarded a private boat and cruised along Mekong river, sipping on red wine while enjoying splendid views of the setting sun, river, mountains, and silhouettes alike.
Under the moonlight: Night market
We girls thoroughly enjoyed shopping at the night market - we picked up local street food on the go, bought fridge magnets, lamps, table runners, clothes, accessories, what not! Enough to say we had a ball - considering we kept heading back each night for more! We'd then call it a day, after being picked up by our hotel tuktuk (which was a complimentary service!), chill in our suite, chatting away until past midnight.
All in all, had a great time with the ladies - who infact are the husband's friends' wives; heartening to see that we've become good friends over time, amounting to us going on a trip by ourselves, sans the husbands :D We were so happy with our choice of destination - loved the variety of novel experiences, the delicious food and warm people - and headed home, with some cherishable memories indeed. #LaosLove