Laos – Luang Prabang, Royal Palace, Phou Si Mountain

04/06/16

I had a relatively easy day today, it was still raining so I didn’t want to be walking around too much. Just opposite our hostel was a folk museum which had interesting information about the Khmer and Hmong village people, more so about their traditional clothing but also a little about their handicraft.

I loved looking at all the detail on the clothes which are only worn on special occasion, back in the day they use to trade food and other items for the coins to put on their clothing. It was a really big deal but now not so much. I was sad to learn that the handicraft is now only made by old people, the younger generation don’t have time to learn the craft and can earn more money from other jobs in the city. Soon it will be very rare to buy the handcrafted fabrics as no one will be making it, and it may just become factory made.

I ended up heading to the Royal palace afterwards which has an entry fee of 20,000kip. As soon as you walk in there’s a really beautiful temple. It was so delicate and detailed, with beautiful pictures on the ceilings. I’m a bit of a magpie so I was really drawn to the shimmery gold, it really was fit for a King! Further up the path is the royal palace, here you can walk around (after putting bags in lockers and leaving shoes outside) and see how the King and queen lived. The entrance hall was very grand with mosaic tiles everywhere and it had the throne, the crowns and Royal cups. The Kings crown is so interestingly shaped, pointing upwards like a mini temple. The queens is a lot more simple. walking around you’re able to see the Kings library / hang out along with his bedroom, the queen’s, the dining room and kids playroom. These room were so modest and simple, which was quite nice to see. The only lavish rooms were for the royal family meet with and entertain guests. There was no decoration just a room with a huge bed in both bedrooms, in the kids play room there were some instruments and toys. What I found most interesting was along the walls was a Buddhist story about the prince and how he was sent away from the town and he chose to live a simple life and he was tested and saved by brahma. I thought it was really interesting story and had funny little pictures.

After the palace I went round the corner to look at the palace cars but I’m not really into all that and only took a quick look and headed back out. Just opposite the entrance is the walkway up Phou Si mountain which has a temple at the top. It didn’t take too long to go up the many steps and was pretty sweaty, but it was so worth it as the view was just stunning at the top. You could really see the whole of Luang Prabang and the green mountains are just so beautiful. If it weren’t so hot I could’ve stayed up there for much longer… We headed down the other side closer to the river, and went to the Utopia bar which is a popular hang out for tourists. There I had another banana coconut and Oreo shake, just too tasty. I then went to the night market which was just setting up and I bought a huge blanket which was handmade and slightly patchwork. After seeing the museum that morning I was really happy to buy something as I knew how much work had gone into it. There is some really beautiful stuff at the market and I really enjoyed having a thorough look. For dinner I ate at the buffet again but this time I bought some duck to go with it.

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