Today was my first full day in Prabang and I sorta need a little time to let everything digest before I can really form an opinion, but my initial impression is that this is one of the most wonderful places I have ever been! The town is incredibly scenic with a typical half-pace in everything it does, the people smile and say ‘Sabaidee’ (hello), and everything is very affordable. It turns out that the frugal budget I hastily drew up in Vientiane would have easily covered my stay, so the 1,000,000 kip from the ATM lets me live like royalty. My room here is beautiful and well-appointed, with handmade Lao hardwood furniture, overlooking a sleepy little laneway – all for only $25 a night. The best part is that it, like all my rooms in Asia, has a powerful air-conditioner (in fact I had to turn it off in the middle of the night last night because I was quite cold even under my blankets).
Since I can’t really resist spilling the beans, I’ll give you a quick summary of today. I walked along the Mekong river, watching kids net fish from the banks. I stopped at a Buddist temple (which Prabang is loaded with) and ended up chatting with young Buddist monks for an hour or two. I crossed a bamboo footbridge over the Nam Khan river and had an incredible lunch at a traditional Lao restaurant that can best be described as a tiki hut nestled in the trees. I watched Cannonball Run 2 in the comfort of my air-conditioned room during the heat of midday. I saw the Royal Palace, and more wats (temples) than you could shake a stick at. And now as the day wears on, I’m making plans to ride elephants tomorrow. But first, there is dinner to sort out, a Lao body massage, and the night market to explore – all of which I’m sure will be fantastic.