The Missus and I realize, that what we see on our travels is not reality for most residents. Many times, as tourists, we encounter the most polished facet of the gemstone. Growing up in a major tourist destination, I understand the importance of putting your best foot forward. It always leaves us curious as to what everyday life is, and where exactly do the "real people" live? In Luang Prabang, there's a charming wooden bridge that crosses the Khan River, on the other side of Mount Phousi, South of the center fo central Luang Prabang. It is a pedestrian, bicycle, and motorcycle only bridge.
For some unknown reason, I found the bridge fascinating, and charming.....
Pedestrians cross on either side of the bridge. Wooden planks have been nailed in place...sort of. Some of the slats move around rather too freely for my comfort, and you can see the river Khan flowing below your feet.
On the other side is a rather beaten road to the airport, with dirt roads branching off.
On the morning of our third day in Luang Prabang it rained pretty hard. Of course the Monks are out rain or shine collecting their morning alms.
And of course, it was on this morning that the Missus decided that She wanted to see the "other side of the Mekong." Of course......
After 10 years of marriage, I've learned that there are just times that the Missus will not be denied. And this was one of those times. She led me along the road that parallels the Mekong, to some stairs leading down to the river.
I tried to tell Her that this wasn't the streets of New York. You just don't hail a boat like you'd flag down a cab. Lucky for me, before I opened my fat mouth, an empty slow boat pulled up!
I let the Missus bargain with the boatsman. And before you knew it we were motoring to the other side of the Mekong. We arrived at some stairs, and the gentleman steering the boat, pointed downriver, telling us to catch our return boat downstream.
Up the stairs, we arrived at Wat Long Khun (Temple of the Blessed Song).
I've read that during the days of the monarchy, newly crowned Kings would spend three days at the Wat before coronation to meditate. It certainly is peaceful.
And not a soul to be seen due to the rain.
There is also Wat Tham Xieng Maen built in a limestone cave Northwest of Wat Long Khun, but it was just too wet and muddy for us to check it out. We'll leave it for next time.
After walking along the trail for a bit, we came along some stairs. At the base of the stairs was a lean-to. I told the Missus to wait....and soon enough a young lady appeared, and we paid a small entrance fee, to climb up those stairs.
This was Wat Cham Phet, which was built by the Thai army in 1888. According to Lonely Planet, one of the Stupas here contain the bones of Chao Thong Di, the wife of King Sakkarin.
The Wat is very quiet and peaceful, and a bit overgrown.
Whatever the history may be, one thing is for sure. The views are wonderful, even on a rainy, overcast day like today.
After this, the main objective was to make it back across the Mekong.
After walking a bit on the dirt trails....the main subject of conversation was how they got construction materials here, and passing several well water hand pumps, we arrived at an long concrete "pad".
I'm guessing that this was Ban Xiengmane. Based on the stares, I'm guessing that the locals weren't expecting some rather soggy tourists to be walking through their village on a day like today. Just as I was thinknig this wasn't so bad, the "road" ended....and it was "mosh-pit" the rest of the way. Ankle (or more) deep mud, as you stepped into it, the suction threatened to suck your shoes right off.
Finally making our way to Ban Xieng Man, we worked our way down to the Mekong. No stairs this time, just a muddy slope, to hire a boat. One quick lesson for me....I was busy trying to take what ended up being this photo:
When I suddenly ended up flat on my back staring up at the lovely Lao sky.......and sliding my way down to the Mekong. Lucky for me, I stopped short of meeting the Mekong. And eventually we made our way back to our hotel. And after a quick hosing down, I was good as new. As the Missus and I say, "it ain't a vacation until I fall or get bad sunburn......"
Antique House Restaurant:
The Missus and I were intrigued by the restaurant right across the street from Somchan Restaurant. It always seemed busy. So one evening we decided to check it out. Big mistake; I should have noticed the clues. The first clue was the big "cheap" Beer Lao sign:
Unbelievable........though the menu looked interesting....
Second clue. When we arrived, we noticed the place was staffed with a large group of young ladies..... Third clue, all the customers were male, and looked to be Thai.
In spite of this we moved forward, and placed our order......
The classic Luang Prabang fried dried river moss dish, which you can read about in other posts. This version was not fried at the right temperature, devoid of the crushed garlic and tomato, kinda soggy and oily. Just check out the pool of oil.
The Dried Beef:
Halfway between Pork Sung (Rousong) and Chinese Beef Jerky, and not bad with Beer Lao. This would turn out to be the best dish of the night. As the Cucumber Salad was not very good:
It should have been seeded, and the "dressing" was very, very, sweet...lacking the savory, pungent flavors we had become accustomed to.
And the Luang Prabang salad, (Nyam Salat), was just plain strange.
The dressing had no egg yolk in it, and it was much too sweet. And what to make of the peanuts...and ground pork?
Yes, we should have seen the clues...this was a Bar catering to Thai male tourists...... Oh well, live and learn. We would have been happy with this: