June 3rd, 2007

LPB, aka Luang Prabang, Laos, is my favorite city in SE Asia. I started to write all these wonderful things, but my last day there my rental bike was stolen by the thief (they warned by about being stolen by the thief). So that sucked. But besides that, and that it could get really hot, I loved it. I loved the green trees and grass, the red flowers, the colonial architecture and traditional Laos Temples (a Wat), the magnificent views from on top of the big hill in the middle of downtown, and less than an hour away was the beautiful and fun Kuang Si Waterfalls. Plus the town had plenty of good shopping, internet, inexpensive massages (oh yeah), and .. delicious food.

I loved the food. You could go street style and eat entire meals for under a $1. Or goto a Lao restaurant and pay $1-$3 for dishes. Or you could splurge and have a meal great by western standards from $5 to $50. For example, at this french place i got chicken with mushrooms (I’m talking a nice, big, juicy chicken breast with sauteed mushroom sauce), buttered carrots with garlic (gotta have garlic in everything), pasta with garlic, salad, and bread for $5. And it was all good. Are you could totally splurge at one of the few really nice places like Apsara or L’Elephant and get a $20 or $40 bottle of wine to go with your $10-$20 meal. But my favorite (and shayna’s, too), was the LPB Restaraunt overlooking the Mekong river. Almost everything we ordered was really good, (i would order again), and cheap – even the beer lao was cheaper than most (8,000 kip – or $0.80 USD for 24oz). Some of my favorites include Laap (or Larp/Larb), LPB Sausage made from buffalo, Jeow + sticky rice, and the Laos Salad. Unlike the rest of asia, Laos made tastee salads with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot, sometimes chicken or hard-boiled egg, and a zesty/creamy dressing. And the LPB Restaurant sat right on the banks of the Mekhong – beautiful view as you watch the sunset.

The shopping was great, too. I spent almost $200 on stuff, and about $100 to ship it home. Thats not including some shirts and other stuff i sent home with shayna. It does include a bunch of elephant slippers, clothes, and souvenir pipes, among other things. Everything was soo cheap, i couldn’t believe it. Some are gonna be presents, so i don’t want to divulge to much info. Needless to say, good place to buy gifts for friends and family.

The locals were nice, but it did feel like a tourist town. Most of the time when a local wanted to talk he wanted to take you somewhere in a tuk-tuk or boat. But a couple times i met people who just wanted to practice their english and perhaps show me their village. Sadly i never had the time .. they always caught me when i had stuff planned. However, Lao art was pretty common.  LPB had many arts/crafts stores, street vendors, and even an art exhibit – The Quiet In The Land. We also checked out a very well done cultural show – a type of dance/play with amazing costumes.

You really must see my LPB pictures to feel the LPB.