Sunday, 19 May 2013

Laotian sunsets and sunrises plus a few more Liebsters

Before my post, I would quickly like to introduce three more of the  six bloggers to whom I forwarded the Liebster award.

Jenny has a delightful blog called the The Lime Walk
She moved from South Africa to Australia but also spends time in her house in France.  She has got the travel bug like I do but writes about a wide range of interests.  She is a lot of fun!

Ruth from Clothing Fixations is a Brit who moved to Sydney and gives me my dose of the good life down under with a healthy helping of fashion and well edited outfits.  Her posts always make me have pangs for Australia and it makes me laugh when she now thinks 18 degrees Celsius is cold!

Chinwags and Tittle Tattles is a London blog by MsMadge that covers many topics and you never know what she is going to write about next.  She has varied interests and writes meaty posts so I am sure she will have something for you to be curious about.

All the ladies are super friendly so do pop in for a bit of a gander.
I think you will really enjoy the ladies' answers as well!

Don't forget that my giveaway ends Tuesday morning so let me know if you want to be entered in either the scarf or perfume raffle.
The last time I left you in Laos, I was hypnotized  by the sunsets.
The sunrises seemed far too ambitious at the time but the reason I had to get up early was to behold the legendary sunrise alms giving that Luang Prabang is known for.

But the first two nights I was alone, I had full intention of getting up to see this ceremony but I had the best nights of sleep I have had in years! If you have any sleep issues then you have to go there!! I thought it was a fluke but I slept well the whole 4 nights I was there plus my friend said he hadn't slept that well in ages either.

My friend who was supposed to see me in Angkor Wat was finally going to join me in town for the last two nights and I was so pleased. Between you and me, I was completely fine wandering solo but being alone finally hit me in Laos.  The last time I had seen a familiar face was in Bangkok which was two weeks earlier.

On the day he arrived, I moved hotels as I normally do when staying anywhere for more than a couple of nights.  It gives me a new angle and perspective on the town and a chance to experience a different neighborhood and meet more local people.
I got on the tuk tuk to go from Xienthgong Palace to my new base in Satri House.  The conservatism of Laos is much more enforced than in Thailand. Standard backpacking attire is not accepted.
But as you might guess, this ride to the other hotel was not smooth!
This place is not even a city. It is a small town. You can walk from one end to the other in about 20 minutes.
 This is a map of the main bit of town!
 So I just assumed that he would know where he was going as the other hotel was also well known.  
Oh no he didn't!  
He didn't know where it was supposedly and 
we had to stop twice and ask directions.  
Next time I go to Asia, 
I am going to say a daily rosary for the 
patron saint of useless taxi / tuk tuk/ boat drivers. 
We stopped the tuk tuk coming and he gave us the directions...

I finally checked into Satri House which was a former residence of one of the Laotian princes.  Think the equivalent is Clarence House.
 I loved the bamboo against the French colonial buildings.
One of these is "Do not disturb" and the other is "Please make up room."  I can't remember which was which now nor could I remember then! How convoluted...
But the hotel was lovely and had a proper pool that provided everyone with panama hats. 

I had no pictures of myself until my friend came.
I had an itinerary planned for my friend so I went out and borrowed a moped so we could explore outside of Luang Prabang.  I didn't have a driver's licence but in Laos all you need is money and a helmet.  So I paid my rental fee and borrowed a helmet and I did a female Jack Kerouac impersonation in Laos.
She was a beaut!
The country side was so serene that I went once alone and 
once with my friend to the famous 
Kuang Si waterfalls about twenty miles outside town.
That's me below swimming to put my head under the waterfall like 
the monks do to seek enlightement. 
PS Didn't work.
There was a rope where that girl in the center is trying to reach.
It was the tarzan rope where you would swing into the pool.
I did it but ripped my nail but it was so worth it.

There was also a bear refuge center.
The bears were very comfy now indeed!
Considering bears can climb trees, 
I really didn't see how that fence was meant to protect us...
Sometimes, it isn't the thought that counts. 
But hopefully, these bears were metaphysical.
The countryside was a very comforting landscape; perfect for driving through as it isn't too distracting but gentle on the eye.
Gentle mountain ranges that eventually lead to the 
famous peaks of the town, Vang Vieng. 

Great lattice work that forms walls of a hut.
Young teak forests were everywhere.  
My friend was the one who knew his botany.. 
We stopped at a Hmong village on the way back to town.  The Hmong people are an ethnic group that has suffered discrimination since they moved from Southern China in the 18th century. But it got exacerbated when they allied with the Americans and fought against the communists in the 1970's.
A four year old babysitting his baby brother.
The people have a rich culture in arts and crafts.

There's always one in every village.
This poor chicken had the worst case of alopecia.

We returned to the hotel where there was a petanque center just by the hotel where men gambled and drank all day and night.

We went to join the other tourists watching the sunset as I did every single night I was there.

I know you are not meant to play with fire.
It seems so civilized and proper to say thank you to the sun for 
all the work it did that day.
 (I have been told I must have been a Druid in a former life.)
I loved this deconstruction / reconstruction of a carrot leaf top. 
( It was salad stuck into a hollowed out carrot.)

The next morning we planned on seeing the alms giving ceremony but we were a little late.  We saw the monks but I didn't want to go too close or make noise with my vespa and be disrespectful. 
So we head out to the river again to see the sunrise instead.
That's me and my friend!

I don't know many places where you get both 
an amazing sunrise and sunset. 
We then went to the temple in Mount Phousi to survey the town from the highest point.
There are live birds in the straw cages.  
You buy them to set them free to earn karma points.

That's me walking back down from the summit.
I told myself that the next morning I would get up early enough 
to see the alms giving ceremony.
It was the last morning and opportunity to view it properly.  
But my hotel didn't wake me up in time. 
So I drove the scooter to the relevant area but only saw it from afar.
Then when I thought I would go to see the sunrise, 
I saw another line of monks receiving their daily portions of rice given to them by devout Buddhists.  
Those tourists are being extremely rude by being so close and flashing their cameras at the monks.  There are signs everywhere that ask that tourists keep a polite distance and not to use flash during this ceremony. 
I was upset by this and decided to have a coffee at my first hotel and commiserate that I didn't get a good vantage point nor the gumption to act like paparazzi.
Just as I was about to park my bike I saw the monks getting the last few portions of rice from the public that is the only source of food they receive all day. ( They only eat once a day.)
I watched and was touched by this most humble of gestures; 
monks asking for help and being at the complete mercy of the population to feed them. 
 Poor children pick up food for their family that the monks pass up.
I waited until the monks returned to the temple and 
as I sought to park my scooter elsewhere,
 I saw a sight that is now a beautiful memory.

They were monks from a temple on the other side of the river who came to town to beg for their daily rations.

That had to be the most stunning morning commute 
I have ever come across.

I think this should be in the next editorial of Vogue or 
the subject of an Hermes advertising campaign, don't you?


  1. Goodness it's a different world isn't it Naomi, it makes you put things in to perspective. It's images like this that make people humble and makes me want to delete all my fashion and 'new in' posts, and I wasn't even physically there! I guess we can't live thinking like this though, otherwise we would never live, but I mean one meal of rice a day and babies babysitting babies- I just can't fathom it although it happens in so many parts of the world unfortunately.

    Nonetheless it looks beautiful, I love your idea of hotel hopping and I'm sooo jealous you got to ride a moped and as much as I love a sun rise, I'm not sure I could have got up early every morning - I really love snooze time.

    Out of interest do you think the tourists knew they weren't supposed to get so close to the monks and were just being disrespectful, or were they totally oblivious, how did you know? I remember when I went to Malta, there was a certain area where I had to cover my shoulders and I didn't realize so had to buy a shawl!

    You have some lovely readers Naomi and a couple have visited my blog which was nice, I hope some of mine visited yours

    Ooops writing a mini essay again, sorry! xx

    1. Don't be sorry - I am interested to hear what people think!

      I completely understand what you mean - I go from being a complete zen no nonsense ascetic to fantaizing landscaping my private island while wearing my Van cleef zipper necklace. The sunrises weren't that early by the way - you could easily catch the sunrise until 745 which is not too shabby.

      The tourists would have known because there are pamphlets everywhere explaining that the ceremony is not done for the benefit of tourists but an ancient tradition and locals are briefed to remind tourists to act a certain way but Buddhism is very passive so ironically they don't tell people off when they are doing it...

      I am glad that you had visitors Colleen - sometimes people just need to be introduced to a new blog right? xx

    2. eeek 7.45am zzzzz lol

      Well then that was very disrespectful of the tourists!

      You are right babes....

      Have a good week and Colleen the 'model' will be up soon xx

  2. You know what? I think you should contact Hermes and suggest your idea about making the monks their models for a new ad that will compete with Angelina's LV in Cambodia. They don't need to be styled...the monks are already classically minimalist in orange--the house colour :)

    Oh look at you in pink! The paparazzi shot didn't get close enough :)

    I had to laugh when you said you were upset with the tourists taking close-ranged photos of the monks, you had coffee. Hahaha..That's the way to beat the crowd girl, have coffee. Haha.

    I think you had a really good sleep coz there was no aircon, no heating and no fan. I always have the best sleep when it's just natural light breeze keeping me cool.

    What a beautiful trip :)

    1. And how can I bloody forget to thank you for my Liebster?! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I got lost in your beautiful photos. I'll definitely visit the other ladies' blogs x

    2. I think I have been in England too long...Any issue and I go make myself a cuppa tea and abroad I go to a cafe!

      The sleeps there were so memorable funny enough that I might go back just for a sleepfest...

      But thank you for accepting! xx

  3. Love your last pictures - absolutely stunning, such bright colour against the watercolour wash of the landscape/ tourists and local population. I also get annoyed by irritating tourists who are disrespectful. Just wait a couple of years and the Aussie package holidays will be going there, and you'll get to hear some fat git telling one of the lovely, gentle local people that you say "bloody good mate" and give the thumbs up to the customers... cringe.
    Those bears don't look too well penned in... maybe because they are taken care of and fed they don't feel the need to climb the short fence and eat one of the visitors? xx

    1. I adore the robes - they just look so chic. I don't think that was their attention though...Funny enough I think a lot of people don't publicize this town out of respect - Anthony Bourdain did what I thought was a poor travelogue of the place but I think it was to protect it funny enough.

      Those bears must be well fed bc otherwise I would have been their lunch! xx

  4. I soo want to travel far away when I see your photos! And will check out the other blogs! xo Caroline

    1. I adore travel too but mind you I am always wanting to travel far! Thanks for checking out the other blogs Caroline - Have a great week xx

  5. Those last pictures are beautiful! I so want to go to Laos!
    Also so excited that you rented a Vespa! Brings back memories of dangerous trips on bikes in SE Asia before I became old!!
    Thanks again for the award! I've loved reading other winners' answers, too

    1. Yes vespas are so cool. Everyone freaked out that I did it but I don't regret it ( I would have if I got a flat tire like some French tourists did in the middle of the country lanes) But I loved reading your answers! I didn't know quilting had that effect ;)

      PS I have let the girls know about the loading issues bc funny enough that happened on my ipad as well so hopefully the kinks will get ironed out! x

  6. PS - neither Jenny's blog nor MsMadge's blogs will load on my silly iPad!
    So frustrating.... Sometimes I despise technology. It lures you in and then taunts you with its tricks. Grrrr.

  7. As always.. an unusual and fascinating meander through your travels ... Loved the panama hats at the 'proper pool'... the magnificent sunsets and ... in fact, all of your photos! The bears looked so laid back that I think any idea of attack was furtherest from their minds! Jennyxx ... oh and I loved the Hermes idea as well as the progressive photos of the monks moving across the river! Thanks again for the Liebster and Link ! xx

    1. Hi Jenny, thanks for coming along to Laos. I am so surprised they haven't used Laos in their scarves with that orange bc a few years ago they did a special on Burmese themed motifs...But I adored reading your answers and thanks again for accepting! xx

  8. I think Laos is my favourite of the places you've visited. It just looks so serene and beautifully mystical. I think the monks are the only people who look good in orange, so they'd be a good match for Hermes. I could live off one bowl of food a day as well, as long as it was the size of a bucket. And even though I have the road sense of a blind gerbil,now I want a moped.

    1. Oh Sulky, you beat me to it!! A bucket would do me fine as well...Laos definitely had something extra - it had everything you would want. I have the itch for a moped in London though now although the fumes might make it a little dull...

  9. Wow, you are a brave traveler. Laos. Impressive. Great, mysterious and dreamlike pictures.
    Did you feel safe being there; I mean not even wild horses could make me take the trip (;

    1. Not at all, Mette! But I did feel very safe there but then again I live in the middle of a city with around 10 million people so my standards are a bit different perhaps? But actually wild horses through the countryside would have been fab now thinking about it! ;)

  10. Awesome pics ! I wish I could swim in this place too (uh what do you mean enlightment didn't work ? Let me try !)
    Traveling is the best thing there is... I hope I can visit Laos soon (I went very briefly during my trip in Thailand, but I can't really say that I saw anything)

    1. Thanks Melo. But the water kept going in my nose and eyes so I didn't even get any peace hehe! I agree totally, except the travel bug never goes away and the infection seems for life...But next time use Thailand as a base and do venture outwards and neighboring countries!

  11. These photos are breath-taking - lovely post!

    Check out my latest thrifty finds?


    1. Thanks Jo, I will come and see your latest bargains. x

  12. It would have really peed me off if I had seen tourists taking their photos like that, so disrespectful! Amazing pictures as always. I love the one where you're holding the sun ;) xx

    1. Hi Sian, It peed me off and so I did the British thing of going to have a cuppa :) Yes I had fun with the sun for sure hehe xx

  13. Thank you for another wonderful tour! It feels as if I'm tagging along behind you. So disappointing though to see tourists being so disrespectful. Those sunsets are amazing and the photos of the monks in their orange robes against the water is breathtakingly beautiful.

    1. Thank you miss b for coming along. I think you should put Laos on one of your next adventures!

  14. love this adventure, what an incredible moment you got to spend watching the monks board their boat (from a respectful distance). My sister just returned from 2 years in Cambodia and loved it also. What a gorgeous area of the world.

    1. I did see that on your post the other day actually I was meaning to ask you about it so I just might now! I would love to hear about your sister's experience!

  15. Wonderful tour!!!!!
    Nice blog!!!
    Would you like to follow each other?

  16. Looking at these makes me feel I'm missing out!! I've never been drawn towards Asia, but I was stupid - I'm definitely going! On day. And I didn't even thought about it - if you're traveling solo, you don't have lots/any pictures of yourself.:)

    P.S.: That waterfall didn't enlighten you?! What a rip off.:) There's a temple in Nepal which has 300+ steps and you have to walk all of them once a year and all your sins are ... I don't know. Forgiven? Washed away? That has to be a rip off too.:)

    1. I love the ritual of it and at least I came out cleaner! I think for some reason you would absolutely adore Asia and you would come back so inspired!x

  17. Better late than never!!!! I don't know how I missed this Naomi but I am SO glad that I finally saw it--not to mention grateful to you for sharing so much. It is so hard to get an understanding of such magical moments as the last that you shared with us...and yet I absolutely did. Beyond amazing. If I could afford to go I would be on the next plane...

    1. Exactly Heather! I can't wait for you to go so that I can see the images and stories you come back! x


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