Just after 3 am this morning, BeeBee was awoken by the sounds of chanting by nearby monks. Chimes joined in, matching the chants as their frequency and volume increased. Around 4 am, roosters also joined the symphony, even though sunrise was hours away. Finally came the smell of burning rubber, which might have been incense and part of the ceremony or might have been merely the city’s sanitation department at work. When BeeBee’s alarm went off at 5 am, only the roosters continued their ageless ceremony.
After breakfast, Pati and BeeBee met their guide and were driven to the Living Land Lao Organic farm at Pung Van village. (See http://www.livinglandlao.com/index.php/en/riceexperience.) Upon arriving there, they joined other participants for a half day of the rice experience, which included hands-on participation in the 14 steps of rice production. The tour participants were also shown many rows of organic vegetables and herbs.
The rice experience was followed by lunch in Luang Prabang.
After lunch, they visited the Traditional Hll Tribe Ethnology Art Centre, a very nice exibition of informations about Lao Hill tribes, their food and their traditions. Especially interesting to BeeBee was the exhibit on women’s work, both traditional and modern.
Following this, they climbed to the top of Phousi Mount to see the sacre gilded stupa and to enjoy the beautiful views of the city and the two rivers meeting in Luang Prabang.
Near the top of the mount was a cave containing a Buddha (of the Happy Buddha variety) and other religious artifacts. Also, oddly, there was a fortune-telling game spread out in front of the Buddha to encourage donations to maintain the site. The procedure is (1) place a donation in the large white box, (2) shake the red cup containing numbered red sticks until one falls out on the large patterned red mat, (3) from the large red box with numbered compartments, select the fortune from the compartment with the same number as the stick, and (4) ask someone who can read Laotian to translate the fortune for you. Fortunately (pun intended), their guide offered to interpret. Their fortune was travel-related and very positive.
The top of the “mountain” is 150 meters above the street level below. They climbed up the 300 steps on the river side of the hill and down the 150 steps on the Night Market side.
Very near the bottom of the steps, as they were leaving, was a lady selling tiny birds in tiny bamboo cages. For 20,000 kip (about $2.50 USD), a visitor to the mount could buy two birds in a cage, take them to the top, and set them free. BeeBee didn’t really want to climb back up the hill, but their guide said it was o.k. to set them free where they were. Spreading the bars on the tiny cage, BeeBee and the guide set them free one at a time. They both flew to branches on a tree high above them. Their spirits were free.
The guide then returned Pati and BeeBee to their hotel. After some quality internet time, they set off walking to the old town section of Luang Prabang to find a restaurant that Pati had read about on Trip Advisor. They didn’t find that restaurant, but after a long walk ended up back at the Night Market. Here they found a Western-style restaurant (full of Americans) in a very nice outdoor setting, and they indulged in American comfort food (a.k.a. pizza) as a break from tasty but unfamiliar Laotian food.
Following dinner, they speed-walked through the Night Market on their way back to their hotel. After internet time (including blogging) was bedtime, for rest for the next day’s adventures.