The first of our activities alluded to in our last post was a visit up the Mekong river to see the caves at Pak Ou.
The previous night the water would not work in the shed so we were moved to another room. Sitting at our breakfast we were told that we would have to move back as the problem had been fixed. We explained that we had a tour leaving in 5 mins and could do it later but the guy behind the desk was adamant we move NOW!!
With a force greater than the North Wind, Karen explained why that would not be happening and we quickly sped away to the tour office, via a shortcut involving climbing around a drainage ditch (long story!).
We made it to the office and were escorted to the jetty. After 20 minutes wait we were led down to our rickety boat. Our entourage consisted of two Swedish girls, two Asian girls and an Asian tourist wearing double denim!!
Soon we were cruising up the Mekong River and headed for the caves. Our hopes were soon dashed when we stopped at a village. Everyone had 17 (yes 17!) minutes to wander around, take some photographs and not be ‘tempted’ to buy any souvenirs. This village was set up for selling, even the chickens were at it!
Finally we were on our way and made it to the caves (after stopping for Petrol from another boat)
The Pak Ou or ‘Buddha Caves’ were first used as a place to store broken or damaged Buddha Statues – it is considered unlucky to throw them away. There are over 1000 Statues of different sizes and colours. Some made from metal, some from wood and a few from stone.
The caves are split into two, with the upper cave requiring the use of a torch (Thanks again Colette!). While we were walking around in semi-darkness we heard an Australian voice shout out..
“You don’t need the flash!”
Our worst fears were confirmed when who came stumbling into our torch light but those two old men from the day before. They were at it again.
After about an hour of exploring the caves it was time to go back on the boat.
That evening when we got back there was only one event to go to in town and it was held in the Hive Bar.
This was the Ethnik Fashion Show.
Set in the beautiful garden setting this showcases costumes from the 49 different ethnic groups in Laos. Most of these groups continue to dress in traditional costumes passed down by their ancestors.To showcase these colourful creations, around twenty Lao Students, from the various tribes themselves, parade down the catwalk over 95 different outfits with intricate designs including traditional jewelry, headwear, and ceremonial outfits, basketry and baby carriers used by the different ethnicities.
What made it a bit surreal was the accompanying soundtrack of pumping tunes from Deadmaus and Tiga.
Our stay in Luang Prabang is at an end and tomorrow we head up north to the highlands of Laos.