Part 2: Songkram in Luang Prabang
In Laos songkram lasts at least 5 days, water fights, parades and street parties were all that the next 5 days included. The water is supposed to wash away your sins, ready for the new year, after my time there I am now thoroughly sin free.We got stuck in immediately, brought water-guns and roamed the streets. We found a busy street where we ended up soaked head to toe within minutes, children sprayed hoses on us, tipped buckets on our heads and we ran around the roads trying to repay the favour, completely soaking up the atmosphere. Eventually we joined together and attacked everyone driving past on bikes, in cars and tuktuks, the Chinese tourists were a favorite target, their umbrellas and plastic sheets covering the non-existent windows were no match for us. Juan especially took this mission very seriously, “Chinese faking tourists!”.
We did not see much in the way of temples and the ‘sights’ in Luang Prabang, it was impossible during the water festival, Roxanne and I nipped out one afternoon to purchase stamps for our postcards, this became a mammoth task resulting in us being soaked head to toe and covered in green paint, returning home around 2 hours later. I managed to get my stamps home dry and safe though didn’t I.
The best nightlife in Luang Prabang resolved around Utopia and a late night night bowling alley. Starting in Utopia, which is a bamboo and cushion clad riverside bar we drank cocktails, played fooseball and left by 23:30 when the curfew was called. Everyone piles into tuktuks and heads to the bowling alley, for a late night of bowling and 60p bottles of whiskey. Bargain. It was a crazy night, involving wrestling, whiskey, Steve Jobs and more whiskey. The bowling alley was followed by sitting on the rooftop ‘living room’ area of our hostel, listening to the guys play guitar, having guitar lessons off Johnny (I can now play one song!), and generally just chilling until the early hours of the morning.
Time not spent bowling or water fighting was spent either eating at the market, where they served the best chicken, bacon and salad baguette I’ve ever seen. I knew Laos was well known for it’s bread, but this was just incredible, leading me to return daily where the same lady already knew my order, laughing as she told me what I was going to order. Other meals included the best masaman curry I’ve ever had, and I also continued my love affair with spring rolls. Although most nights the food took over an hour to arrive, a great difference to Thailand where it’s on your table before you’ve even finished your order, the food was generally worth the wait. The other part of my time here was spent in hospital with my friend Johnny, who had an accident deeply cutting open his leg. Katja and I took him to the hospital where he was stitched up, me being a nurse and Katja a doctor, it was an interesting experience as we discussed how different the hospital was to our own countries. None of us were spoken to until after they had sorted Johnny out, there was dry blood on the floor and there were no questions asked, good job he wasn’t allergic to anything.. The actual treatment was really good, and it was interesting for us to watch, much to Johnny’s amusement. It was 5:30 when we eventually crawled into bed, tired from the full day of activities.
A day trip away from the madness of Songkram led us to the most incredible waterfalls, where we spent the day climbing the cliff to jump into the pool, swimming behind natural waterfalls and sliding on the muddy floor. The water was bright blue, contained fishes which nibbled at your feet and with a self arranged photo-shoot in front of the waterfalls, we all got an eyeful of Doms lovely feminine figure, and Roxanne and I looked especially pale standing next to Katja pulling the typical Charlie’s angels pose.
We planned to arrange our Vietnam visas here in Luang Prabang, however due to the new year festivities the embassy was closed, meaning a short trip to the capital Vientiene will be needed.
Business later, first stop..Vang Vieng!
“grow some hair”