Although I’m not doing the bamba tour I have still paid for the included activitied. The cycling tour was really expensive so none of the stray people wanted to join. It will come at no shock that I was the only one who was booked onto it, but I didn’t mind. It just meant I could ask silly questions and it could be more personalised.
The first stop on the cycling route was the morning market. He said that for Laos people it is not more expensive to eat in than it is to eat out so people go to this morning market to buy their raw ingredients to make meals at home.
It shocked me at some of the grose things they eat. They had rats, roads and massive Mekong river fish. Vom!!!
Wat Xieng Thong
This has been my favourite temple by a long way. It was magnificent. The decoration was beautiful. With small thing, shiny pieces of tiles all the way along the walls, creating shapes and stories.
There were many buildings within the walls, and many stoops (which represent buddhas). My favourite section was the middle building. This had a tree on the back. My guide told me that the story was about the tree of life. I thought he was going to tell me the story an adapted version of Adam and Eve but this obviously had a Buddhist twist to it. This included a turtle, deer, swallow and hunter.
The moral of the story being if you kill others you will become a bad person and turn into an animal. Monks believe if you are good you are reincarnated into human. If you are bad reincarnated into animal. Inside one of the buildings it had illustrations of this belief.
Monks follow five rules: Do not lie, Do not kill, Do not drink, Do not talk to girl, Do not cheat. It had occurred to me since learning about the monks that there was a high population of them here in Luang Prabang. Apparently this is because there is a lot more poor here and so the poor use Buddhism a way of helping them.
I didn’t realise Loas originally had a king. He died in 1975 and then the country was taken over. They decided they would wait to crown their next king but then the country became a republic country. I asked whether he was sad about this and whether he has an emotional tie to their royal family, like the Thai people but he said no. He said he is happy without a monetary so that the people have more power.
We then cycled through town and around into the suburbs where we stopped st a paper making factory. They produce only for Loas and do not ship abroad. I knew paper was made out of wood but I didn’t realise how short the process was. After the wood is cut into fine pieces it rests on the water, pressed and then died. After this is can either be dried in the sun and then cut or felt into other products, for example paper gift bags or boxes.
The bike ride covered a lot of ground. We went to a coffin maker, which would you believe make their coffins out of paper so that it is easier to burn. We also went to a cremation area, we crossed a bridge, the river, and we went to a UXO museum.
The museum was my favourite place because I learnt so much about the Vietnamese war and how badly Loas had been affected from it. Over 200 million tonnes of bombs were dropped over Laos. This is more than all the bombs in total from the Second World bird (as the Loas call it) still go off today. Only 10-30% of the bombs detonated when they hit the floor and so on a daily basis they exolide, still today. People try to find them so they can sell it as scrap metal, children play with it because they don’t know the dangers, fires above ground can set them off, cattle which stampede can set them off etc. All of which have damaging effects on Loas, it’s people and it’s land.
Waterfall Kuang Si
In the afternoon we went to the famous Luang Prabang waterfall. It was beautiful. The water was so clear and tranquil. We went swimming in it and our skin felt really soft when we got out.