Tuesday, 23 June 2015

More Luang Prabang




Have been taking it easy, what with the heat and the dodgy ankle, which is nearly back to normal. Have spent a lot of time exploring this small, pretty town, stopping a lot to take in more liquid. There are stalls everywhere selling the most delicious fruit drinks, served with lots of ice. The watermelon is a particular favourite, although the coffee and banana is rather good too. The last few days have been so hot that I more or less lived on them.

Since I've been in the region, I've come across and eaten some strange foods, however, I didn't try 'bloaty fern,' which was on a menu in Vietnam. 'Blobby Marry,' a mocktail, is self explanatory, but I think I might have missed something in not ordering something called' mind banana.'

I really like these pieces of mutant English, some of which pop up back home. The people in all the countries I've visited all seem to have a good sense of humour. A sign in Kampot read: 'perfect broken English spoken here.'



This guy is seen around a lot. He is often seen 'smoking' a pipe with his navel.


Inside is a golden statue of Buddha of Kmer origin. It's 1900 years old. Unfortunately, no photos allowed.

Went and did a bit of teaching yesterday. There's a centre called 'Big Brother Mouse,' where anyone can go to learn English. There are two two hour sessions everyday. I started chatting to a guy of about 14. He'd been learning English for 18 months and like a lot of people wants to be a tour guide. His English is already impressive; he told me that his parents live in Vientiane, the capital and are quite poor and that he has has been a boarder in the town since the age of eight. He visits his family once a year and attends every session at the centre.

We looked at a few exercises from his book and he asked me some questions about vocabulary: 'What does 'acquiesce' mean?

Went to the Royal Palace this afternoon. It was fairly modest for a palace, but interesting. Built between 1904 and 1909, it was more like a large family house than a palace. There was a great photo of a visit by Uncle Ho. He was dancing with some other guests, who all appeared to be doing the Hokey Cokey.

The palace.

The artifacts, among the golden thrones and palanquins, were interesting for their homely qualities, particularly a fifties Grundig radiogram and some classic thirties furniture in the bedrooms. It was a pity that cameras were not allowed.

In the gardens is a temple or rather shrine, if that's the word; a magnificent affair. The statue inside, the Prabang Buddha, is very old and the reason why the town changed it's name centuries ago,when it was offered by the Kmer. Like Catholic festivals in Europe, it is paraded through the town every year and taken to one of the temples, where it remains for three days. The palanquin type thing used in the ceremony, requires 14 people to carry it.

Lastly was the Royal Car Collection, comprising of two Lincoln Continentals from the fifties, a Citröen DS, which had seen better days and The first Edsel I've seen in the flesh, which like the Lincolns, was a gift from the U.S. Government, thus proving that you could give Edsels away.

In fact, the palace was full of gifts from various nations. The porcelain from China and Japan was exquisite, the smaller American gifts self-aggrandising and the French, Polish, Indian etc all rather tasteful.

The British contribution? There wasn't one, at least on display.

Am tempted to go bowling this evening. It's a regular with a lot of the young tourists where I'm staying. With my ankle problem, I'm not up for playing, but a lot of people seem to reguard it as more of a spectator sport. Tourists go there in the evening, often full of alcohol, weed, opium and mushrooms, or any combination thereof to try to bowl. There's a lot of falling over and stumbling about, which sounds amusing, but it's also very comfortable here in the evening too, so I'll see.

Off to Vientiane tomorrow or the next day and then on to Vang Vieng after a few days in the capital. That's where they do the tubing; I thought it was here when I arrived. Just as I'm starting to recover from my albeit minor injuries, time to go and get bruised some more in the water.



  1. Blobby Marry,' a mocktail, is self explanatory
    Actually, it's not really clear to me whether it's a non-alcoholic version of Bloody Mary (hence "mocktail"), or the real thing, but afflicted by Foreign Menu Syndrome with ironic misspelling of cocktail.

    Glad your ankle is healing. Any indigenous herbal salves involved in that? Excellent photos, as always, thanks.

  2. I've just read in yesterday's Sun (down the chip shop) that the UK has granted aid to Laos of "£970 to promote safe and responsible use of Facebook". I couldn't help wondering if you've noticed many people using FB in a particularly dangerous or irresponsible manner, as it doesn't seem enough to be really effective. The Sun wants it to go to our military instead -- presumably so they can safely and responsibly kill more foreigners.