|I arrived in Luang Prabang just after sunset so had no idea just what a magical place I would wake up to the morning of my first day. To follow on from the fantastic day I had had down the Mekong I decided to check myself into somewhere special for (what I believed would be) one night instead of trudging around town in the dark looking for a suitable guesthouse. Two options stood out in the lonely plante - Villa Santi or 3-Nagas. As they were withing 20m of each other i had a peek at each before decided - and by far the 3-nagas was chosen as my haven for the night (ww.3nagas.com).
My first day pretty much set the standard for what eventually turned out to be an 8-day stint. My first task though for day one was to find alternate accomodation so I wandered around town for a few hours to get a feel for what was on offer. I couldn't believe just how beautiful, tranquil and alive the place felt. The dusty streets are lined with palm trees and french architecture which is being lovingly restored to it's former glory (after much destruction in the indochine wars). Hopefully some of my photos will have captured the essence of the town as I'd probably have to get the poet laureate to help me with an accurate description!
Needless to say I didn't have any trouble finding a guesthouse to my like - Sayo Guesthouse was a restored former mansion/home of someone exiled during the war - very simple but by no means basic. After my night at 3-nagas there was only so far "back" I could go ;-) I received the warmest welcome from a little boy while watching his brothers playing badminton in the street - he ran right up to me and gave my leg the biggest hug I've had since I left home....and that again was an indication of the people of LP (no, they don't run around hugging strangers legs...); they're some of the kindest, most honest and gentle people I've ever come across. There's a photo of this little boy staring up at me somewhere on my websites.
I spent the rest of the day pottering around this little peninsular town and bumped into the french doctors I'd met on the way to Huauy xia (Carl and Julie). The town is so small that you literally see the same people over and over again....I even began noticing "new arrivals" to town as most people only stay for 3/4 days. I felt like quite the local by the time I left!
On Tuesday I decided to hire a bicycle to venture to the outskirts of town a little more and to aid my pottering around and random decisions on what I felt like doing when. My pink "fairy turbo" (that was honestly the name of the bicycle) became my most loyal companion for my stay and saw me safely through villages and towns (la la la - i'll be on my holidays and they'll be doing the rounds....a song by deacon blue if anyone remembers?)
It was on tuesday that I also bumped into Ian Green (a previous boss of mine at Credit suisse)and his family (his wife Paula - who turned out to be most welcome G&T companion and daughters Zoe and Heidi who were a sparkle and giggle in my day); they're travelling around the world for a year and provided such entertainment with their tales and stories of their encounters and experiences along the way. Meeting them was so unexpected as I had no idea they were in Laos - I'd contacted Ian before i left to find out if we would overlap in thailand but discovered we'd pass each other by by a few days. Literally walking into each other on the streets was a bit surreal!