Day 4 Friday 19 December 2014

Whilst I am sure that there are many other aspects of Vietnam which could be seen, we shall see the south of the country later on our trip; for the moment our location must change and it is back to the airport and a small twin turbo-prop ATR72 airplane to Luang Prabang.  I have seen many spellings; this is the one I am adopting and indeed will probably shorten it to LP throughout this and the next couple of posts.

The flight is over largely green countryside, largely invisible thorough the cloud layer, wth noticeably much more hills / mountains as we close on LP. Also as we approach LP there are are several rivers in evidence.  The airport here is tiny and we have a walk across the concrete from our plane to the entrance at the far end of the building.  Later we will establish that it is standing much closer to the departure gate.  And alongside are much smaller local Lao planes!

A wonderful queue now develops as we all have to have visas and so we hand over passport and visa form that we have completed.  Join another queue to hand over $35.  Well except there is another $1 service charge.  So hand over $36!  Then your passport is duly stamped with a visa attached and you can enter the country!

Reclaim suitcases and yes our new guide is there and waiting.  We head off into town crossing the Nam Khan river and he takes us around the headland where the Nam Khan flows into the Mekong and we have our first view of the mighty Mekong river which is the main point of this holiday.  We also drive pass the “Tamarind” restaurant which he recommends for good dining this evening.  This young man clearly knows what we like!

First a trip round the main temple.  There are a large number in LP but the monks all come to this one at breakfast time having collected through the town (see tomorrow).  This gives a reminder on the Buddhist culture and we also see the Chariot used to convey the body of the last King of Laos.

Towards the other end of town we stop at Phousy Hill and have to climb to the top – some 330 steps.  And it goes to prove we are not fit as we struggle with the climb!  About a third of the way up a monk is sat and has excellent English for a conversation with my wife.  Along the way there are numerous Buddha statues (hence some photos) but we reach the end very short of breath.  The photographs are here

Wonderful views over the countryside.  LP is not huge and we can see the surrounding wooded hillsides and the town below.  Eventually a stead descent sees us back on the main street and transported to our hotel – Le Palais Juilana which is about 3km from town.  Briefly use the swimming pool but we keep being reminded that it is winter locally, even though it feels warm to us!  Sunset around 5:30pm.

We are still in the travelling phase of this holiday so merely resort enough clothes  for now and then head back into town for dinner at the Tamarind.  They place a small brazier near our feet to keep them warm and the mozzies away and give us a huge menu.  Careful reading shows a set menu with a variety of local delicacies and so we chose that.  And it was all very good.  The price includes wine and was $30 for the two of us.  Outstanding value.

Tuc tuc here is a little powered metal cage – and by this time of day without our coats was pretty cold.  We head to bed as we have an early start tomorrow.