Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang – it always makes me want to say, “Size of an elephant!” (from the Arabian Knights cartoon shown as part of the Banana Splits Show).

We’re in Laos now, and it’s great!

Last few days at Siem Reap:
We bought a book about the Khmer Rouge from Top Vanna and had a nice meal at The Red Piano
On Friday we visited the Cambodia Landmine Museum which was a suitably moving and interesting experience. They have a huge collection of old de-activated mines and explanations of how they worked and the work involved in clearing them. They also have a mock-up of a minefield demonstrating how the mines were deployed. Several children who have been injured by mines live atthe museum where they are taught English by volunteers and go to the local school. The Museum has planning permission for a new site closer to the airport which will make it more accessible. It’s currently at the end of a very rough, rutted road. They’ve also just opened a gallery in the centre of Siem Reap by the Old Market which will continue the work started at the museum.

At lunchtime we went to one of the Artisans d’Angkor sites (website not working at time of writing). After a tour round the workshops where they carve wood, and stone and laquer various carvings, we entered the treasure room that is their shop. Filled with absolutely beautiful objects, and at prices much lower than we had expected. We were severely tempted, and gave in to some temptations, purchasing some stone sculptures and silverwork which we then had to find room for in our baggage.

Another evening meal at The Red Piano (we ate at the Taj Mahal Indian restaurant on our first night in Siem Reap, very good Indian food), and a couple of Tiger Beers. The local Cambodian beer is Angkor Beer, brewed at Shinoukville, and that isn’t bad either.

Saturday saw us getting an early start to get to the airport. Flight to Bangkok, dash around getting some more cash in the departure area there, andthen a flight on to Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang is really nice. Quiet, gentle and beautiful. The streets are a mixture of old French colonial buildings and Buddhist temples, with few of the ugly modern building that you encounter in many places in South East Asia.

There are loads of places to get excellent food (the French influence) and there’s a great night market with loads of local crafts for sale.

We’re staying at Bounthieng Guesthouse, by the side of the Mekong River. Nice location but the rooms are looking a bit “tired” and could do with a lick of paint and a good scrub. Very friendly place though.\

My MP3 player is now considered an antique and possibly collectable!