Languor in Luang Prabang, Laos
August 9-15, 2012
I find that some of my favorite places are those in which you can really just while away by hanging out at more affordable neighborhood cafes with wi-fi or bookshops with friendly and accommodating owners, walking along streets with nostalgic charm, visiting the occasional exhibit/museum, watching the sunset by the Mekong River, and partake of food from the night market.
Read the rest of this post for some cheapskate tips and lazy snaps c/o this lethargic traveler. :P
One of my favorite places to hang out was the Arthouse Cafe a.k.a. River Loft Restaurant (it’s slowly transitioning its name to the latter), for its laid back ambiance, delicious vegetarian-friendly Orlaam, a uniquely Lao dish for only 10,000 kip ($1.25 or P50), and its bottomless coffee and lemonade and iced tea, also only for 10,000 kip!
Wi-fi can be painfully slow at times, but it didn’t keep me from coming back and staying the whole afternoon again. :)
Another place I liked to hang out was Yensabai Books & Art with Lao Couchsurfing friend Sith.
You can buy, exchange or borrow books there, share a cup of local organic coffee, and maybe even take a stencil class and learn how to make one of these uh-mazing pieces yourself. :)
Walking around aimlessly
This is probably my favorite activity to do when arriving in a small town: walk around with no end in mind other than to get to know a place “organically” and just be pleasantly surprised by the things I eventually stumble upon, like the Kopnoi / Stay Another Day Exhibit, Utopia, random cafes and shops, like Ock Pop Tok, and beautifully aged / tastefully restored buildings or homes.
[UNESCO office building, proof of Luang Prabang as a rich heritage site]
Once your legs have gotten tired from your aimless walking, it’s nice to take a break in with a 5,000 kip fruit shake ($0.63 ~ P25) to watch the sunset along the banks of the Mekong River. Not all riverside restos are created equal, so if you want to get bang for buck with an unobstructed view, look for the resto across the Khem Khoung (?) Guesthouse, if I remember correctly. :)
In Luang Prabang, and again later in Vientiane, I find that nothing soothes the tired soul, lifts the spirits, and gives a renewed sense of awe in the world as simply watching the sunset — a good hour of undisturbed appreciation for your life and the blessings in it. :)
Cheap eats on the street
Cap off the day with a 10,000 kip meal at the night market. Choose from papaya salad and spring rolls, or get a plateful of vegetarian dishes along this little street tucked away near the entrance of the night market (after all the fruit shakes on the left, before the bakery selling various bread outside).
[Spring rolls (1,000/pc) and papaya salad — you can haggle papaya salad for 8,000 kip even if they quote you 10,000, at least with the vendor I tried. :)]
So there you have it folks. A day of nothing much, but my favorite types of days. :)