Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kips Don't Lie : Adventures in Laos - Part 2

Pak Ou Caves Or Buddha Caves is a popular tour option when in Luang Prabang. At first I thought of not going, but then I wanted to experience the boat ride on the river; so I decided to go. It's a half day tour, takes about 1.5 hours with at most 45 minutes to an hour at the caves.

I was curious about this "full taste of happiness". Ticket is priced at 50,000 kips.

Down the steps we go. Maximum eight passengers per boat. We had 7 in the second boat. We noticed fancier boats with bucket seats and even a valet and wondered how much that cost. And there was one fancy boat with only one passenger!

Posing on the steps down to the boat. The couple behind me are on a 4 months travelling holiday- the lady is a Malaysian.

Peace ! Terribly un-original of me. Next time must remember not to do this too often. Or learn a new 'pose' :P

I bumped into these two South Korean travellers in the morning - we were on the same bus from VTE the day before. That's why I have some pictures of myself on this boat ride, they kindly asked if I wanted to take any of myself :)

Steps leading up to the Whisky Village. That's our longboat down by the riverside. We stopped here first before the caves.

Lao Rice Wine for sale at the Whisky Village. We made sure our boatman did not sip any.

Approaching the jetty which leads first to the Lower Cave.

More steps to conquer to reach the Lower Cave. Entrance ticket 20,000 kips.

Most of the Buddha statues are modern ones placed there by devotees over thousands of years - I was expecting the ancient versions. Oh well. And I didn't think there are thousands and thousands of them; more than four thousand apparently.. looked more like maybe two thousand plus at most.

I remember reading that Pak Ou village (?) across the river received royal patronage in exchange of the villagers taking care of the caves. The King makes an annual pilgrimage to the caves back in those days.

The cave has undergone some upgrading works so there's flat surfaces and concrete steps to make it easier for visitors to climb up.

A shrine for devotees - this family was very coordinated, the males wore matching polo tees.

A headless figure - I am guessing ... from the pose/stance it looks like the Monkey King from Journey to the West? But his staff is missing.

More steps to the Upper Cave. I was out of breath by the time I reached this spot. One guy on the way down told me not to worry it's not that far, very near. WTH. Liar. It took me another 5 minutes of huffing and puffing.

Chairs to rest after all those steps.

The Upper Cave has these nice ancient looking entrance. It was very dark though.

Pitch dark. The visitors in front had torchlights and shone them on the statues located inside the belly of the cave.

This cave was bigger than I thought.

Wall prints? Drawings?

View from the inside facing the entrance.

On the way back - a failed attempt to snap a picture of a herd water buffaloes from a moving boat - in particular that pink/white one on the extreme right. Is it an albino buffalo?

In contrast to the outgoing boatride where I chatted and chatted with the couple, on the way back I slept. Yes. I dozed off easily while sitting on the wooden chair, warm afternoon breeze on my face. I think that's what I like about boat rides - the movement of the boat and the wind on your face.

Back at my guesthouse, took a shower then went out to have lunch - this time I rented a bicycle for the rest of the day. Luang Prabang is perfect for cycling - almost no traffic at all other than other cyclists and tuk-tuks.

I cycled and cycled and cycled for the whole afternoon; with a break in between for a drink and then back to the main street again in the early evening. And dang I realised too late that I didn't have a picture of myself on the bicycle (it was pink!). Why? Because the last time I went cycling was almost three years ago in Bali. A very rare occasion. Note to Self : Must. Remember. Next. Time.

Cold black Lao coffee, my favourite drink here, as well as in VTE. Here it was 5,000 kips, in VTE I enjoy it at this noodle stall for 3,000 kips. Needless to say I had coffee every day. Twice even.

My view at lunch time. It was later afternoon - peaceful and quiet at the riverfront.

The primary school - the monks go there too?

Drying rice cakes in the hot sun.

UNESCO World Heritage Site stone right at the end of the town.

LP National Museum. Entrance ticket 30,000 kips.

Former royal palace - under restoration works.

Paper making workshop located in a house near my guesthouse. Paper making is a cottage industry here and they have nice products.

Buffalo meat drying out in the sun. Funnily, no flies.

Standard signages for 'bans' in LP.

Don't know the name of this building.

3 Nagas (?) - a fancy place to stay and dine. Those vintage cars remained in the same spots over the few days.

One of the nice guesthouses along the Main Street.

This was supposedly the Library?

Flaming red flame-of-the-forest line the river facing street - we call them 'semarak api', right?

Lao seaweed riverweed snack. Bought a small one for 5,000 kips to try, didn't quite like it. Bitterish, salty taste. Soft tissue-like texture, not crispy like the Japanese ones.

Had a pedicure at the night market - only 10,000 kips!

My dinner at the night market food alley - grilled fish which was very tasty and not fishy at all. The plastic bags holds the Lao version of som tam, rather mild and lacks the punch.

The guy pointed these eggs to me. The local 'balut'? No thank you.

Next - Part 3; Phou Si, Kuangxi, and back to Vientiane.


  1. Personally, I didn't like the Pak Ou Caves cause the long boat ride to see caves that were nothing to shout about was not worth it at all.

    The journey was so long that the boatman had to stop the boat for 2 Mat Salleh travellers to get off and take a leak by the riverbank. Eventhough their backs were facing us, we all had a good view of what they were doing, hahaha.

  2. a few weeks ago somebody asked if I was interested in joining her to Laos. I was giving a second thought. I mean, Laos? ironically I've heard a lot about this Luang Prabang. Didn't know it was in Laos. Now I wanna go there. o.O interesting journey Aud.

  3. It's not seaweed (Laos is a landlocked country); it's riverweed.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I like the cave! Especially the dark cave! Nice! :)

  5. now I remember. i did go to Pak Ou Caves

  6. Julie : I think I would've enjoyed the boatride more if the water levels were higher. The caves were just okay for me.

    Jipp : I think Laos is worth exploring. If I had time I'd go to Phonsavan and down south.

    AdekFab : Ya, you're right, it is riverweed, it says so on the label! Haha, I didn't think about that cos that's what the girl at the market said! Correction done.

    Robo : You're welcome :)

    Jason LT : Ah, your memories came flooding back? ;)