Early pickup to visit the Pak Ou caves
The agreement was that I would be picked up at 8 am to go to the Pak Ou caves by boat. Already at twenty before eight somebody knocks on my door. Of course, I am not ready yet, but I say I will be in five minutes. At the reception, I quickly grab a brig of soy milk, to have something in my stomach at least.
Still enough time for breakfast
The boy who picks me up with the motorcycle apologizes. He has two others to pick up, and I was the first on the list. We drive to the departure point where I get to hear that I still have the time for breakfast. I step into the nearest eatery and order a baguette with butter and jam. The disadvantage is that there is a relatively large group of customers. Luckily I do not have to wait too long. That is indeed quite reasonable, but they bring a plate with egg and sausage, so back to the start. A few minutes later I get my order. I devour everything as quickly as possible.
A boy triumphantly running off with his cookies
The driver of the ship beckons me from across the street. Six tourists join the boat to the Pak Ou caves; a Dutch couple, an Asian, and two Italians. After sailing for about an hour, we moor at a non-tourist village. I walk to the end of the town where some kids are playing. I give some cookies, which they accept thankfully. Show other children show up later on. So I hand out some more cookies to the only boy in the group. A few minutes later I understand that was a mistake. Instead of sharing the snack with his fellow villagers, he runs off triumphantly.
Hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures in a cave near the Mekong river
It is still a twenty minutes sail to the Pak Ou caves along the Mekong river. This group of 2 caves, a lower and an upper one have turned into a cult place with hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures. The mostly wooden images are scattered all over the place, many of them damaged, but that doesn`t spoil the visit. We only have the misfortune that another group of tourists arrived just before us. In other words, we need to queue up to make our photos.
A stop at whiskey village
Our next stop is Ban Xang Hai. A visit to this village is always included when booking a boat trip to the Pak Ou caves. In this place, they brew rice whiskey or Lao-Lao. Immediately upon arrival, we can try it; there is a light version, comparable to regular wine, and the heavy variant, between 40 to 50 degrees. The whiskey is still made according to tradition, on an open fire in earthen jars. The village itself is used to receiving tourists. There are several stalls with fabrics and stuff. After some bargaining, I buy a bottle of rice whiskey of 50 degrees. I am curious about what effect this will produce when I consume it.
Late return to Luang Prabang
It’s about an hour sailing to Luang Prabang again. We are supposed to be back around 11:30 am. Eventually, it is 13:15 when we return. Not a problem for me, I have nothing planned this afternoon. For a few in the group, it becomes more inconvenient. They sail around 13:30 to the Kuang Si waterfalls, so they do not have any time for lunch.
Dinner served by soon-to-be ladyboy
As the sun burns severely, I decided to return to the guesthouse for some rest. At about six o’clock, I go out again looking for a place to eat. I do not want to dine in Sisavangvong Street tonight and take an alternative route to the center. My choice falls to a small restaurant, with a cozy terrace. I order a starter, vegetable spring rolls, and catfish with vegetables and sticky rice. As most of the time, a nice meal again. The guy who serves me apparently wanted to be a girl; he is not yet a ladyboy, but super friendly of course; what else did you expect when sitting there on your own?
End of the day with Lao beer and rice whiskey
After that I enter a modest lounge bar; the music being played is my thing. But I do not have the urge to hang around in a bar on my own. After my first Lao beer, I head back to the guesthouse where I drink a glass of rice whiskey that I have bought today. In terms of drunkenness I had feared it would be worse, but it is not too bad. Chokdee.