still in Luang Prabang

18 06 2013

We return to Lao to find our heroine still exploring the World Heritage site of Luang Prabang.

We walked across the historic city, through the busy shop- and restaurant-lined streets to the pretty, quiet residential streets, eventually arriving at Wat Xieng Thong. Here we looked at the fairly modern mosaics and TL told us some of the stories illustrate therein.

telling tales

telling tales

After taking us around the rest of the temple complex TL left us to entertain ourselves.

rooftacular

rooftacular

swooping

swooping

gold and mauve

gold and mauve

Our first stop was for coffee. Which turned into beer and lunch. All at the Big Tree Café.

what’s big, green and furry

what's big, green and furry

Next, some retail therapy at the rather marvellous Mulberries shop. They had the most fabulous, soft, richly coloured silk scarves. All at reasonable prices. I bought two. Mulberries is all about sustainable products, caring for the environment, preserving traditional skills and empowering women. I should probably have bought more than two.

Then there was a bookshop with interesting but terribly expensive stock, and another textile emporium ditto.

The royal palace museum, on the other hand, cost very little to enter. We don’t have any photographs as you aren’t allowed to take cameras or anything else inside. Lockers are provided to store your stuff, including shoes. (It was the same procedure in Burma.) It really was the royal abode, frozen in time since the country became communist, and consequently pretty random. Possibly the most interesting display was of the gifts given to the royal family by other nations.

There’s a royal car collection round the back of palace, which sounds grand but comprises five cars and a shabby looking boat.

The temple within the palace grounds was the blingiest of the bling.

blingiest of the bling

contains scenes of mild butchery

includes scenes of mild butchery

fencing shadows

fencing shadows

We headed back to the hotel, via the Ethnology Centre, which was small but rather good. It had displays of textiles and traditional dress and information boards on various aspects of Lao culture such as courtship and marriage traditions.

And there was still time for a nap before dinner. (I needed a nap as I was developing the group respiratory infection.)

— words & pictures by Elizabeth

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