The charm of this amazing place takes over you immediately and you are forced to walk slow, talk softly and think happy thoughts (no, no interesting brownies served for breakfast). It is simply gorgeous here, the combination of stunning Wats, beautiful French Lao buildings, enchanting Mekong river and breath taking views all make it a very special place. Luang Prabang is a gay friendly cat friendly place where people are smiley, relaxed and kind. It feels like an island but is actually a small town in the mountains. We have been trying to think of what this place reminds us of and so far weâ€™ve come up with a mix of Sapa (Vietnam), Colon (Panama), Sinai (Egypt) and Zichron (Israel), I guess it is just like nothing weâ€™ve ever seen.
Archive for December 25th, 2007
Hanoi feels like combination of several different cities all rolled into one: The Old Quarter and the Hoan Kiem Lake, the business district with its new high-rises, the beautifully scenic and residential West Lake area as well as several major avenues and circles with major landmarks, for example, Hanoiâ€™s opera house or the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Many tourists who visit Hanoi donâ€™t realize how drastically everything changes as soon as one ventures just outside of Hanoi. Our friend, Aryeh, took me out on an informal bike tour (motorbike) during my brief visit to Hanoi last year. I enjoyed it so much that I really wanted to do it again but this time with Tamar. Aryeh was kind enough to hook us up with his friend Marc, who lives in Hanoi. Marc is an avid mountain biker whoâ€™s been living in Hanoi for 4 years and is very familiar with all of the trails surrounding the city. He also thought it would be fun to take a trip, with a motorbike for a change, to see a site or two that heâ€™d wanted to check out for some time.
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Today is Christmas and it feels like any other day here in Laos with the exception of a few trimmings. Xmas music is played everywhere and Lao waiters and waitresses are almost all wearing Santa Claus hats. Otherwise, it’s sunny, in the 70′s, and not much else is going on in the way that it does in back in New York on Xmas.
After a very nice breakfast by the Nam Khan River, we checked out of our guest house. We then climbed the small Phousi mountain to get a good view over the city around noon. The rest of the day has been spent in several cafes with wi-fi where we alternate between blogging and doing Internet research for the trip while the other person goes and gets massage. It’s so hard to share one computer between the two of us!
In a couple of hours we fly to Vientiane where we’ll stay for a night and then fly to Pakse in Southern Laos. From Pakse we’ll be on the move to Si Phan Don (4,000 islands in the Mekong River). Since we’ll be in transit, it’s hard to know when or where the next Internet access will be.
We’ll really miss Luang Prabang for sure but we feel like we’ve just discovered something new to come back to again. Hopefully it will retain its charm in the years to come.
Starting today, December 25, we will be adding a new feature to AsiaSteps, the Journal. This is simply a way for us to post a quick review of our daily activities to the blog in keeping with the chronology of our travels. Other more extensive blog posts, photos and video will continue to provide more in-depth information about our discoveries and will not necessarily be published in the order in which they happen. Journal entries will be labeled as such in the title of the post. To view all Journal entries, click on the category entitled, Journal, in the list in the right-hand column. We hope you will enjoy this new feature as you follow our journeys through Asia.