I had read about sweet coconut rice inside a banana leaf and wanted to try it but when I asked for one at a local shop, I was surprised at how expensive it seemed for just rice. When the woman brought out my little surprise package with a small clever, I wondered what it was for. When I opened it, I found a piece of meat rather than the expected sweet delight. It explained the price somewhat but what lie before me was a nearly pickled meat mixed with onions. Rather than look stupid, I chopped it up with the clever like I’d been doing it for years. I had a bite and was surprised at how tasty it was but Doreen said I should not eat it. It was obviously only cooked by the heat of being inside the banana leaf and the pickled aspect was probably more like a process of fermentation! Needless to say, I was not feeling all that well that night. Sometimes, you should just learn to walk away from a local delicacy.
Walking through the local markets is an experience even if you are not looking to actually buy anything. You will find locals bartering for items you might not think are of any value. And you might find that what one culture values just might make you sick. I love it myself but Doreen hates the smell of fish markets and the head of a pig is never high on her list of things to see.
Laos has the dubious distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the history of warfare. During the war against North Vietnam, the U.S secretly (and illegally) conducted a massive bombing campaign of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in eastern Laos from 1964 until the ceasefire in 1973. Over this period more than 500,000 bombing missions were launched, dropping more than two million tonnes of ordnance. The bombing was concentrated in the north and southeastern provinces of the country.
Most of the aerial bombardment consisted of anti-personnel cluster bombs filled with bomblet sub-munitions. Each cluster bomb container was filled with up to 670 individual bomblets, each one about the size of a tennis ball and capable of killing and/or injuring a number of people. It is estimated that up to 30% of these bomblets did not explode.
Extensive ground battles also left a staggering amount of UXO including artillery and mortar shells, mines, rockets, grenades, and other devices from various countries of origin.
Even today, some 30 years after the end of the war, the Lao countryside remains littered with innumerable UXO. In Laos, there have been over 11,000 reported UXO related deaths or injuries since the end of the war. Various government and international agencies are working diligently to clear UXO from Laos, but it is a painfully slow process. The impact of UXO both in humanitarian and development terms, is a significant constraining factor on a country struggling to overcome poverty.
Note: The city of Luang Prabang does not pose a hazard from UXO. This warning is intended to alert travelers who are venturing out into the rural areas of the country.
If you are walking alone at night it could be dangerous. Not because of theft of robbery, but because of dogs.
My experience is I was alone on the street at night, around 10 o'clock. The night life in Luang Prabang ends early, around 9pm. I walked to the night market to make a phone call home.
On the way back a big dog starred at me and keep barking. I was scared but I know I should not run. I starred back. Too bad the street does not have street lamp, so I wonder if the dog saw me starring at it.
Anyway, make the way back to the GH safely..
The Lao New Year festival, known as Boun Pimai or Pimai Lao, is a very important holiday celebrated in mid-April, especially in Luang Prabang. Just as with the Songkran festival in neighboring Thailand, it is customary during this time to splash strangers with water during the heat of midday. Mostly local youths do the splashing, but rowdy tourists often take part as well. Some are armed with relatively harmless waterguns, but others have large buckets capable of thoroughly soaking their victim. The times when you are most vulnerable and want to be on guard is when you are riding on an open air vehicle of any kind, i.e. tuk-tuk, back of truck, cyclo, as they will wait for you on the side of the road and get you as you drive by. Be especially careful with camera equipment or it may get ruined.
But remember, if you do fall victim to a good soaking, it's all in good fun and just try to laugh it off. I personally got really soaked when I was there.
Coming from Thailand it was quite shocking to be offered drugs so often! From tuk tuk drivers to sweet little old ladies at shops everyone seemed to peddle either marijuana or opium. From what I understand they are both very cheap there and if this is your scene it will be more than easy to acquire what you want. Use caution though peddlers will likely try to take any sort of advantage of you and will likely try and sell you the "not so good" stuff. Be careful!
Morally it also not a real responsible thing to fuel the drug trade in this very poor country so think twice!
Thankfully enough people are interested in this so if you just say "no thank you" you are usually left alone or the subject is dropped.
If you like to wake up late, bring ear plugs
There are many roosters all around, so the mornings here are like a singing contest, each one yelling louder that the previous.
I couldn't avoid a killing glance every time I met one of these f***king animals on the road, LOL
Fast boats have the reputation of being dangerous. They travel very fast - from Huay Xhay to Luang Prabang they take about 9-10 hours (18 with a slow boat). fast boats are tiny - they carry about 6 passengers, and very noisy and bumpy. You are given a life-vest and a helmet to wear - and for a good reason: apparently every year several people are killed in fast-boats accidents.. tourists, too. Prices are quite high, so unless you are in a real hurry, please take the slow boat. you'll be safer and will also enjoy more the surrounding countryside
Luang Prabang may look absolutely safe to you but thieves do exist, so always keep yout valuables upon you. Someone I was travelling with for a few days had her expensive camera stolen while we were having dinner in a quiet place, and everyone (both at the restaurant and shops nearby) tried their best so that we did not call the police (fear, I guess). In case something is stolen from you the place to go and report it is at the Lao immigration office opposite the Rama Hotel, but here too people are not too willing to help you. I guess they do not want to admit that pickpockets do exist
becareful chilli in your food even it is a tiny one because it is so hot...it might burn your tongue LOL
Watch out when you walk cross the street !!! People are friendly, I didn't see any accident even no traffic light .