Looking for Laos

While the Gibbon Experience took us out into the jungles of northern Laos and allowed us access to a rural village and a couple of Lao guides, it was a packaged trip and we were looking forward to exploring the rest of Laos as we moved on. But finding anything resembling an “authentic” Lao experience with the limited time we had was proving to be a challenge.

We took the two-day slow boat to Luang Prabang…

…along with hoards of Western travelers.

...some of whom insisted on claiming two seats apiece, while others had to sit on the floor.

The views were nice, anyway...


When we finally got to Luang Prabang, we ate at the night market, which serves decent but relatively bland buffet-style Lao food to Western travelers.

The roast chicken was actually quite good.

And we did fall in love with these little fried cheese things that were a lot like the Russian sirniki we make at home.


After dinner, we ended up going with some Spanish partiers (coming off a full six days in Vang Vieng) to a bar catering solely to Western travelers.

Alona joined them for late-night games of volleyball (at the bar) and bowling (which stays open later than the bars in Luang Prabang).


Over the next couple of days in Luang Prabang, we saw a sunset…

…with hoards of Westerners.

Woke up at dawn to see monks collecting alms…

…with hoards of Westerners.

Yes, monks are a prime tourist attraction in Luang Prabang. We were sure to keep a good distance and not use flash, but it was still pretty embarrassing.


And aside from visiting the national museum (former palace)

a few temples

and a waterfall


…we engaged in such authentic Lao experiences as eating burgers, playing Yahtzee for three hours and teaching English travelers to play Durak. By the end of day two, we were wondering if we were ever going to see any of the “real” Laos or interact with Laotian people who said things other than “you go see waterfall” or “need room for tonight?” We decided there was only one way to get even a little off the beaten track in the two days we had. Just four days after returning from the jungle exhausted, we would set off on another trek…

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