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Luang Prabang

Posted in Photography, Travel by Alvin on July 28, 2010

Luang Prabang is a place of mists and temples in the mountains of central Laos, where Nam Khan and Mekong River meets. I thought this UNESCO heritage site is one of its kind. There aren’t any majestic architecture which spans over acres of land, rows of ancient structure or stunning nature wonders.

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The main street with a stretch of French influenced buildings, temples and a few minor streets next to the river.

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I traveled up north to Luang Prabang from VangVieng with two other English backpackers and we ticked the tourist cliché to-do-list; museum on the first day.

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The main streets came alive at evening when craft vendors set-up a traditional handicraft and souvenirs  night market. Albeit named the craft market, it was also the place where we hunt for cheap dinner.

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Meat galore, 2 legged to 4 legged delicacies. Dinner was an all-you-can-fill-in-a-bowl meal, at 10,000kip with barbeque pork as an extravagant side dish.

We headed out to Tat Kuang Si on day 2 for the famous fall.

072 - Kuang Si Waterfall (LAO)

Source: http://www.lebe.sk/laos/album/laos4.html

Extract the people, it is as amazing as the picture above. We hiked up to the top, to a pool less known to the majorities.

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Source: Flickr: whereareyoumurphy

That was the exact spot where we spent the rest of the noon dipping, jumping off rocks and watched young monks doing stunts off the rocks and trees.

The only temple I went was the one erected right at the top of Mount Phousi. Very much like Batu Caves, temple accessed via a flight of stairs from the foot of the hill. The temple wasn’t the greatest I’ve seen, but up at the top of Mount Phousi, the panoramic view of the town of Luang Prabang was stunning.

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane!

I love the vibe of this city. Tranquil and sleepy riverine lifestyle. It balances up VangVieng, the party town, making my week in Laos a hodgepodge of crazy, wet, drunk, serene and fun. Every nook and corner of this town is a picture. After a week of scorching sun, it drizzled on my last day in Luang Prabang. Thanks to the weather, the river and mountains were misty, temperature was cooling, and I had the best walk I’ve had over the whole trip, despite just around the town.

Everything was just perfect for a quiet walk, absorbing the quintessential beauty of this town.

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Laotian coffee and a French baguette in Laos. An assimilation of culture, a great way to just eat, drink, stop, rest and drift away.

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I caught an evening bus back to Vientiane, to transit over-land to Hanoi, Vietnam. 

Despite the contradictory intellectual debate over tourism sapping traditional culture, invasion of tourism driven cafes, eateries and guesthouses, I thought the preservation effort by the local council was commendable. The name might sound comical if I were to comprehend the pronunciation using the Hokkien dialect (reads: randomly swatting mosquitoes), the long winding journey definitely has its worth.

Posted in Diary, Thoughts by Alvin on July 18, 2010

An elaborative facebook status update.

1) Compact digital camera + waterproof/underwater casing – my big chunky dslr’s good but I am missing loads of picture because dslr’s way too huge and fragile to carry. So, no picture while swinging and tubing in VangVieng, Kuangsi waterfall rendezvous in LuangPrabang, trekking in Sapa and other random picture moments on and off trip.

2) One-way flight ticket – train will do as well. Thanks to the drastic transition from being on the go while travelling to not doing anything at home, and I call it withdrawal.

These answered ‘What’s on your mind?’

In The Tubing

Posted in Photography, Travel, Youtube by Alvin on July 16, 2010

I headed up north from Vientiane, to Vang Vieng,  the heaving backpackers hub as a stopover for Luang Prabang. This infamous small town witnessed throngs of travelers, thanks to limestone crags, riverside scenery, and definitely Nam Song river which flows through the town of Vang Vieng.

The van stopped at a riverside guesthouse which I eventually stayed with a few other English backpackers I met in Vientiane. Apart from good pad thai, the sunset was picturesque.

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I snapped this with bulb speed of approximately 3 minutes just before pitch dark.

Bar hopping after dinner before calling it a day.

We woke up early the next day to tube down Nam Song.

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Individual tags for tube.

We started off at noon, and practically started drinking since then. Shots, whisky buckets and beer. There were bars at the river bank with swings, slides, and lots of party. I did the swing even before started tubing, and landed face down with a great splat.

I found the journey after the last bar quite serene. Far away from blasting speakers and alcohol, tubing down Nam Song river offers great view of limestones and faraway hills.

So, this is similar to what we did, captured in motion. 🙂

This ain’t Laos, culturally but definitely a quick stop for limestone, sunsets and tubing!

Across The Friendship Bridge

Posted in Photography, Travel by Alvin on July 5, 2010

From Ayutthaya, I took a night train to Udon Thani, one of the provinces situated sensibly close to the friendship bridge. The inter-nation bus ride from Udon Thani to Vientiane costs 80baht, and 2 hours is all I need to get to the capital of Laos. Easy but the bus was sardine-packed with passengers, sacks of grain and corns filling up the aisle. Thankfully, no domestic fowls!

Bus alight at Talat Sao, the bustling morning market of the capital. It was a feat getting through the stuffed aisle, never did I expect a swarm of tuk-tuk drivers sprinting towards the bus way before it stops, having everyone to wade through the crowd.

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I got myself a bike on the 2nd day and it was indeed confusing to cycle in the streets of Laos. Yes, right-side driving and I often pedaled into the wrong lanes.

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Laotian Arc de Triomphe

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Landmark.

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From the top of the Arc.

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🙂

Ancient Capital By Bike

Posted in Photography, Travel by Alvin on July 2, 2010

I caught the early train leaving Bangkok to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand at 6.30am. 85km north of Bangkok, the journey took off from Hua Lamphong train station, and the locals started pointing at me and repeat ‘Ayutthaya’ after 1.5 hours.

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I was here for the ruins and one of the best way was to bike around the world heritage site.

So, I did.

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and this was how I was roasted alive under the sun.