I adored this place. After the madness of Hanoi, being dropped off at night in Luang Prabang was a joy. There were no constantly beeping horns, nobody following you down the street hassling you every step of the way. Even the tuk tuk drivers...if you wanted a ride, you had to wake one of them up.
It's a tiny place on a peninsular on the Mekong. And nothing much happens here. in fact, nothing at all. We soon found a quiet little guesthouse with no frills at the far end of town. Intending to stay a couple of days, we soon lost a week to it's charms and lazy pace.
First day consisted of getting the sights out of the way...various temples and the like. Once you've seen one, though. We had a chat with a couple of young monks there. Very friendly, and their English was very good, too. Prayers in the morning, clean the temple, then laze around all day until prayers and chanting in the evening. Sounds like a job for Goof, though I doubt he'd cut his hair for it. It's a strange sight watching the monks wandering up and down the streets under gaudy parasols to ward off the sun. We come to get a tan, the locals try and avoid one.
We took a trip upriver on a speedboat to see some caves filled with discarded Buddha imagery and carvings. The boat ride was far more exciting than the caves, which were pretty shit to be fair.
One afternoon, we were looking to get to Kuang Si waterfalls. A tuk tuk sounded expensive, but on passing a group of English lads bartering with a driver, I asked if they were heading for the falls. They were, and we tagged along. Result. They proved to be a very sound bunch of lads, and we spent the day swimming in the rock pools and jumping off the 12' fall above. Although The Jock took an eternity to take the plunge. So much for Braveheart, eh? Myself and three of the lads climbed a very steep path up to the top of the biggest fall. We stood on the top as light began to fall, looking out at a breathtaking view of rolling hills and jungle. Returning in pitch black, we found a worried Jock wringing his hands and cajoling some locals into forming a search party. We were bang on time, but I think he is yet to fully trust Compass Crawford. He'll learn.
Aside from that, we spent the evenings drinking at a few nice little bars. There's a midnight curfew though, so the only place to drink was at the bowling alley out of town. This place was a hellhole, frequented by pissed Brits, Irish, Aussies, prostitutes, drug dealers and ladyboys. Just your average Saturday night out, eh? One woman took a shine to me, and kept winking. I saw her around over several nights, and she would not leave me alone...chatting me up in broken English. We were outside one night, the group of us waiting for a tuk tuk home. The Laotian chick followed me out, and was trying to get me home. Repulsed, she wandered back inside. Time to confirm my suspicions.
I said to one of the locals "Ladyboy, right?" and pointed after her.
"How you know?"
"Big hands" I grinned.
"You clever man!"