Apr 28, 2013

Visiting Laos (part 4)

This is the fourth part of the small "guide" through Laos. 
Buddha statue at sunset

Luang Phrabang

Luang Phrabang is one of the most visited places in Laos. It's on the UNESCO world heritage list, so the city gets more and more visitors every year. The city has a lot of natural and historical sites. 

It used to be the capital when Laos was a kingdom and you can clearly see why the king choose this place to be his residency. It's in a very beautiful area of the country, and the city itself is also beautiful.

On each sides of the streets there are hotels, restaurants and temples. One of the main attractions are the beautiful monasteries and temples.  In the mornings hundreds of monks walk on the streets collecting donations from the people. Unfortunately we missed it, but maybe the next time .

Places to visit and things to do in Luang Phrabang:
Temple inside

  • Buddist temples and monasteries - as I wrote before there are so many gorgeous temples where you can go. usually the young monks are studing outside and if you are lucky you can see the buddhist ceremonies.
    colorful textiles
    rice liqour

  • Pak Ou Caves - about half an hour from Luang Phrabang. It's a natural cave where monks placed many buddha statues in various sizes. Most of them are very tiny and sometimes they are in some hidden part of the cave. Even you can bring a buddha statue and put it somewhere. And we saw a monster rat in the dark!(about as big as a cat) :D You have to go to a small village where you can cross the river with a boat. You can see how the people are making the hand made textiles and chlothes. It's so colorful!:) And we even saw how they make rice liqour with snakes and scorpions. there are many tourists visiting this place, so it's really crowded all the time.
    Kuang Si Falls
  • Kuang Si Falls - full of tourists but very beautiful. In the lower part of the fall you can swim as well, but the water is pretty cold.
    Night Market
  • night market - We just loved it! :) It's on the main street every night and you can find really nice handmade scarves, chlothes, slippers and a lot of suveniers. That's where we saw an old busker playing on a traditional instument called "erhu".
    tuk tuk in Luang Phrabang
  • Royal palace - Nowdays, the building is the national museum. It's not like any of the European palaces. It has one impressive room for the guests and the rest are not that luxorious at all. As usual this place is always crowded as well as the rest of the sites in Luang Phrabang
    Garden of the Royal palace
  • just get lost in the city! :)
    River side
  • walking by the river side

  • We had a really good time here and hope one day we can visit it again. Next time I will write about Vang Vieng, the last city we visited in Laos.

    Apr 26, 2013

    Visiting Laos (part 3)

    This is the third part of the small "guide" through Laos. 

    Xieng Khouang
    Xieng Khouang

    Xieng Khouang is located north-east of Laos. It's a really nice hilly and mountainy area of the country. It takes about 6-7 hours from Vientiane to get here through a very curvy road. We were stunned by the beautiful landscapes next to the road. You can see small villages, rice fields and huge jungles.
    It's a poorer part of Laos and there are less tourists also. During the Vietnam war it was bombed and there are still a lot of armed mines left hiden in the ground. Fortunately the authoraties already cleard most of the visited parts of Xieng Khouang, and you can see people looking for mines to disarm them. But it's not dangerous at all to visit this place. You can still feel the impact of the war. Locals use bombs as fances and decorations for their restaurants and pubs or they cut them in half and they plant flowers in the bomb shells. It looks really surreal and it's nice to see that the people found a way to "recycle" the garbage of the war.
    Recycling bombs
    Recycling bombs

    It can get pretty cold expecially in the mornings and late evenings in this region because of the mountains. Mornings are really foggy and sometimes you can't even see your own hands in front of you, but it get's clear after a while and really hot and sunny. :)

    Places to visit:
    • plain of Jars - it's in the UNESCO world heritage. The archaeologists are still not sure what they were used for.
      plain of jars
    • Wat Piawat temple - it was the oldest and biggest temple in Xiengkhouang ,but it was destroyed by US bombing during the Vietnam war. Just the buddha statue remained almost undamaged. 
      Wat Piawat
    • War Memorials(caves and statues) - victims of the Vietnam war - About an hour away from the city there is a cave which during the war was used as a hiding place for civilians. The US supected that there might be also some high ranking people from the military hiding in the cave so they bombed the cave. Thousands of innocent people lost their lives. Now it's a memorial for the victims of the war. We met here with some buddisht monks who were praying for the victims and we got to talk with them a little bit. It was one of the best moments in our trip.
    • quarry of the Jars and a secret tunnel - a little hike through endless staircase up to the mountain. The view is really nice from up there. 
      on the top
    • Hotspring - This natural mineral hot spring is located at Muong Kham District . There is a little bath place for the visitors but don't expect the luxury of the West. There's a row of small cabins with tiny bathtubs in them. When we were there a really old lady was working in the garden there and we gave her a small bottle of water. She said that we are so kind and we have a good heart and wished us good luck and happiness and long life and you could see in her eyes that she really meant it. So many kind words for such a tiny gesture( a small bottle of water). It was a really touching moment... It made me think a lot how people from the west (including myself) don't appreciate what we have as much as we should. We're complaning way too much about nothing. 
      hot spring
    • walking in the city - it's quite a small city with a lot of interesting bars and restaurants and of course with lots of karaoke. Close to the old airport there's a huge building where locals go to spend their freetime. It is kind of a "casino". It's full of life. There's a game where they use 3 cubes with images on each side and you have to guess which one will be on the top. It's quite fun! :)
      Xieng Khouang at night
    Xieng Khouang is a must visit place when you are in Laos. Don't miss it! 
    Next time I will write about Luang Phrabang, the old capital of Laos.

    Apr 23, 2013

    Paintings of Laos

    Busker- oil on canvas

    After we left Laos, I felt really inspired by the experiance and I felt the need to paint. I've painted continuasly for 3 weeks but soon we will leave again (on the 29th of April yuppie! :)) so I won't have the time to create new ones but to get more inspiration. :)

    Here are the resoults: 
    Buddhist monks - aquarell

    Sawing lady - aquarell

    Bicycle - aquarell

    Bisu - oil on canvas
    sawing girl variation - oil on canvas

    girls in Xieng Khuang - oil on canvas

    dream - oil on canvas