Posts Tagged ‘Laos’

One last touristy stop before saying goodbye to Vientiane..we stopped by Wat XiengHuen which is very near to our guesthouse. The thing is that the more famous temples charged a fee whereas it’s free entrance for the not so famous temples but really, these lesser known temples ( to the tourist anyway) might be as  interesting too and has a certain charm.

The drum tower

 

Statues of the Buddha protected by the Naga

 

Statue of the walking Buddha

 

Interesting Dok So Far on the roof ( indicating royal patronage)

 

After Wat XiengHuen, we walked down to the guesthouse, had a shower, checked out ,  left our luggage  at the guesthouse and walked to the bank of the Mekong in search for lunch, walked into the Riverside – sorry, they don’t search lunch, Orchid Guesthouse – no, cook has gone home, no lunch too. We finally settled for  noodles at Nok Noy- a kopitiam/restaurant complete with wall painting and checkered table cloth..

We had Pepsi 4,000kip/bottle,

 

I ordered vermicelli with chicken – it was ‘tung fun’ with lots of vegetable, cabbage, spring onion, carrot, eggs, choysum. This was tasty but slightly salty

HC had crispy noodles which looked very good ( don’t cha think ?) as tasted good too. The noodles costs 15,000kip / plate

After the good lunch, we walked back to the guesthouse, retrieved our luggage- and hailed a tuk2 to get the airport – the ride costs us 30,000 kip (~RM12) …with the breeze in our hair we said our goodbye to Vientiane …

OK, before I end this series of postings on my Laos trip, I thought it might be useful to put up some information to future visitors to this beautiful country .

The cost of things  ( at that time, 1,000kip was approx RM4)

  1. 1.5 L Mineral water cost 4,500 ( at 7-11 type stalls)  – 5,000 kip ( guesthouse and convenience shops) . 0.5L ~ 3,000 kip , or for the local bottled water  6X1L = ~ 7,000kip .
  2.  Big bottle of Lao beer 8,000-10,000kip
  3. Coke/soft drink ( 280ml)  ~ 3,000- 4.000kip
  4. Rental of bicycle in Vientiane is ~10,000kip/day and at Luang Prabang ~20,000kip ( some are negotiable, we got ours at 15,000 and 18,000 )
  5. Plate/bowl of noodles cost from 10,000 -18,000 kip- depending on where you eat
  6. Please try the yummy fruit shakes 5,000- 8,000kip
  7. Set breakfast of baguette cost from 20,000- 25,000 kip
  8. Entrance fee for temples at Vientiane is ~5,000kip and at Luang Prabang is ~20,000kip
  9. The guesthouses that we stayed in were rather good-clean, safe and comfortable, you can get rooms from USD8-15 .

Information

  1. There are no free maps provided at the hotel /info counters- make sure u have a map ready before your trip- this will help- as most of the attractions in Vientiane and Luang Prabang are within walking /cycling distance
  2. Long distance buses – it will be cheaper to get the tickets directly from the bus station than the guest house/tour operators , but  the maybe 1,000kip( RM4) or so difference might be justified by the fact that it includes pickup from the guesthouse.
  3. Tour companies – most of the prices quoted are just for transportation and doesn’t include any guides – so either do your homework before the trip or pay more for tour companies that provide guides. And do check out a few companies before you make the bookings/purchase of tickets/tours
  4. If there is not a big group of you to share out the cost, don’t expect that going (on your own) by tuk2 will be cheaper than joining a tour company. Check out the price before committing !
  5. Some of the temple have closing time –best to check out the time before your trip
  6. Best exchange rates are from the banks.
  7. The bus journey from Vientiane to Luang Prabang is really long ~ 9 – 10 hours, although the roads are good- they are very windy – but the scenery is worth it , suggest to look at going by bus from Vientiane > LP and take a flight back LP> Vientiane  
Advertisements

It was a really really hot day in Luang Prabang, well, not that I will be cycling about in KL under the mid day sun – what a good excuse to have a fruit shake, after trying the various fruit combination, I think the best was still mixed fruit –dragon fruit, mango, pineapple, apple, orange etc etc. Some of the fruit shake stall will have the fruits cut and packed in the plastic cup, and we will just need to point to any of the cups with the fruit that you fancy and then they will blend that – add a bit of milk ( some add coconut milk too) , sugar syrup etc…heavenly….

After the refreshing fruit shake, we decide to hide from the sun by visiting the National Museum (former Royal Palace), a lovely building blending French and Laos architecture.

Read more about it here :  http://www.culturalprofiles.net/laos/Units/153.html

Extracts : Built by the French colonial government for King Sisavangvong between 1904 and 1909 on the foundations of a much older palace building, the former Royal Palace was taken over by the revolutionary government in 1975 and reopened to the public as a national museum on 13 March 1976.

We paid 30,000 kip each ( ~RM12) for the entrance ticket, lockers were provided to store our cameras/bags etc. The items on display include gifts from countries to the King, books from China ( gifts from 1968 – well, at this rate, I could be a museum piece too lah), the funniest we saw was a space explorer thingy gift from the US, which looked like it was made from milk tins- guess it was probably impressive at that time guarr ?

Behind the museum, there was a collection of motorcars used by the King and an art exhibition titled ‘The Floating Buddha’ – beautiful photos..a woman with hair just shorn, teardrops on her face, shorn hairs on her shoulder ; a hand rubbing flower petals on a young nun bald head and many more, felt my eyes watering looking at these beautiful pictures.

From the Museum, we cycled to Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham – built in 1796 by King Anourout, is  the biggest Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang. When I look at the structure , I was rather confused, as it seemed like one third of the temple is facing one way and the other two third is facing another direction

 

Well, turn out that it was  a very elaborate front veranda of the main sim. I was in awe of the elaborate black and gold stenciled columns at the veranda

 

We sat at the stone benches , taking in the view of the Wat Mai and then at 4pm, we saw 2 novice heading towards the drum tower. One started to beat on the drum and the other on a cymbal like equipment, it was a simple rhythm but rather mesmerizing, the drum beating activity must be tiring work, as they changed 3 novices within the 10 minutes.

Read more about Wat Mai here : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/laos/luangprabang/wat-mai.php

 For dinner that day, we enjoyed a Laotian BBQ meal, which was rather similar to steamboat/teppanyaki combination. The stall is along the row of stalls along the Mekong bank, you won’t miss it as it’s one of it’s  kind around this region.

Firstly, load the charcoal

Pour enough soup into the holding area part of the ‘stove’ and rub some fat on the BBQ area

 

Cook the thinly sliced beef over the fire

 

We paid 40,000kip for the meal.Overall, I find this average only , more for the novelty of it than anything

 NB: if you have the chance try the banana fritters sold at this stall, they are delicious !

We saw some bikes for rent at the guesthouse opposite ours and when asked,  the owner said 20,000kip ( ~RM8), but after some negotiation, we settled for 18,000kip, these bikes were newer than the ones we rented the other day and were much more comfortable. So, off we went on our shiny new blue bikes…

We cycled  to Wat Aham ( which would have been a rather long walk) parked our bikes under the shade and walk about the grounds of Wat Aham. The temple was built 1818 onwards. Read more about Wat Aham here : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/laos/luangprabang/wat-aham.php

The main sim.

 

The intimidating temple guardian- close up

 

From Wat Aham we walked across to the adjacent Wat Visounnarath (Wisunalat)

The main sim looked a bit different from the temples that we have seen around Luang Prabang which are normally brown and with low sloping roof. The temple was originally built ~ 1512 but was destroyed in a fire in 1887 and rebuilt in 1896. Read more about Wat  Wisunalat here :   http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/laos/luangprabang/wat-wisunalat.php

 

One other attraction at Wat Wisunalat is That  Pathoum, (Stupa of the Great Lotus), more popularly known as That Makmo ( Makmo = watermelon in Lao) because of its rounded dome, extract from same website above : The dome stylistically reflects a Sinhalese influence and is the only stupa of such a shape in Laos, and perhaps even in Cambodia or Vietnam. Originally erected between 1514 and 1515, it was destroyed during the Haw Black Flag incursion in 1887. The stupa sets on a number of different square tiers and has a Lao-Buddhist style Usnisa crown at its top.

 

We went on our bikes again , wind in our faces, and navigated ( HC navigated, i merely follow lah)  to Wat Ho Xiang ( Hosin), parked and locked our bikes at the curb and walked up the stairs between the impressive silver nagas

 

Closer look at the nagas

 

This somehow reminded me of the aliens from The Aliens movie

 

Wat Ho Xiang was built in 1705, this is the main sim. Read more about it here : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/laos/luangprabang/wat-ho-xiang.php

 

From Wat Ho Xiang, we walked to the adjacent Wat That (Wat Mahatat)

 

Elaborate and colourful murals on the wall of the sim

 

 In the background is the Lan Na style stupa erected by King Say Setthathirath

 

Read more about Wat That here : http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/laos/luangprabang/wat-mahathat.php

 The heat was getting to us, we decide to head back to the guesthouse and have a rest. After a bit of a rest ( and a much needed bath), we cycled along the banks of the Mekong in search for lunch. The baguettes caught our eyes as we cycled passed the stall located at a corner, we gostan-ed and took a seat. It was a combination of 2 ( maybe 3) stalls, one selling baguettes, the other- grilled stuff and the third –noodles. The baguettes seemed to be just served with condense milk ( we might be wrong) , so we decide to go for a bowl of pho ( noodles) and have a side dish of grilled chicken

The variety of sauces and condiments at the table , including : fish paste, chili sauce, pepper, shrimp paste ( belacan), sugar, chili powder, etc

 

 Pho served with basketful of greens , the pho was tastier than the one we had for breakfast

 

Grilled chicken – hmm…this was good, tender and tasty..the Lao know their grills man !

 

Two bowls of pho + grilled chicken cost us : 35,000kip ( ~RM14). Nice…