Friday, January 29, 2016

Off to Luang Prabang

Thursday morning we went down the road to have breakfast at a small cafe recommended by one of Dan's pickleball friends. We had a lovely breakfast of eggs, French toast, and plenty of fruit.

Our flight was at 3:15, so we reserved a taxi for 12:30 (it never hurts to have a bit of extra time). A travel company across the street from our place seemed like the logical choice. However, the taxi didn't come and time passed. Eventually, the woman at the travel company called someone else and we finally got on the way. We *probably* won't use them next time! Everything went smoothly at the airport and we got settled to wait for our flight. The plane was late coming from Laos, so we were delayed by an hour. It was a small prop plane with only 70 seats. We had declined to pay extra for a reserved seat for a one-hour flight, so we ended up in the back row (18). However, the door was at the back, so we were the first ones off! I really enjoyed watching the scenery below as we crossed from northern Thailand into Laos.

Yes, a one-hour flight and they served us a meal and drinks! A nice small box with a chopped vegetable sandwich and some fruit.

The Luang Prabang International Airport has obviously been updated recently. It was very nice and there weren't other flights there. We followed a British traveler who was the snobbish sort -- hated the airport, the "real" Laos is being ruined by tourism. Sorry, buddy, but all of us foreigners who come to another country contribute to "ruining" these places. But I'm sure those people who rely on tourism dollars are happy to raise their standard of living. We were able to get a tourist visa on arrival for $35 (must have American cash) plus a $1 processing fee.

Our hotel, the Lakhangthong Boutique Hotel, sent a driver to meet us. He was sitting outside the airport playing with his phone. The hotel is a small teakwood place, very nice. I'll try to get some photos today. We are on the upper floor with a balcony facing the (not very busy) street. We were greeted with fresh hot tea and fruit on our breakfast table outside the door.

After getting settled in our room we headed to the center of town and the Night Market, about a 10-minute walk. We found the food booths first (no surprise!). There were many possibilities for picking up a bite to eat.

This woman was making small coconut cakes in the cooker on the left below. We got a little packet of them -- a bit like pancake batter with soft coconut in the middle. She put them together like small sandwiches. The buns looked interesting but we didn't try them.

Along one side there was a series of sandwich booths. They also sold fruit and smoothies.

We picked one of the booths and got an avocado and bacon sandwich to share. We are in former French territory, so the bread is quite wonderful.

There were many gorgeous craft stalls all along the way -- I'll photograph some of them the next time. We needed to get some money and finally found the ATMs on the way back to the hotel. Yes, they are all in a row, just pick the bank you want to use. Dan got out 100,000 kip and afterwards realized that it was only about $15. We will have to get more soon!!

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