Friday, November 7, 2008

Luang Prabang by twin propellors

Cycling to the airport from Vientiane in the morning was a very pleasant experience. This capital city is still blessed with light traffic and we covered the 5km in 30 mins flat. With the cardboard we salvaged from our bike boxes, we sort of wrapped the frame, straightened the handle bars, remove pedals and deflate tires, presto - bike was ready to fly.

Of course we attracted a curious crowd in our packing at the very quiet domestic airport. It was a small plane and we were required to remove the front tire as well which was no big deal. The 480km by road or 10 hours in the bus was reduced to a painless 50 min flight.

I could see a glimpse of the mountain ranges that we have to conquer by bicycle next week but for now, we just want to enjoy the historical UN Heritage city of Luang Prabang. We fixed the bikes at the airport and cycled into town, overtaking many other local cyclists. The highlight was crossing an old wooden narrow bridge that could only take bikes and small motorcycles.

LP a charming small town situated between 2 rivers and have an even more easy pace than Vientiane. Its the start of the cool season and we enjoy nice 18c nights but days still hover at 30c. 33 temples, some centuries old, are fascinating and await our exploration. Plenty of French Provincial houses and buildings give LP a most European flavour.

Lots of quaint guest houses and obviously the numerous construction going on to build even more testifies to the growing number of tourists descending upon LP. Night markets, stretching for over 2km await the ardent shopper. Certainly, the coffee culture here is strong and it reminds me of Pai, but with far too many tourists. This is probably the downside of this lovely town but with bikes, we could stay away further from the touristy spots and still savour some old world charm.

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