Luang Prabang – Days 247 – 251

We had high expectations for Luang Prabang, with many of the travel bloggers we follow writing that it was their favourite location in Southeast Asia. We knew we were heading to a city packed with Unesco-protected temples encircled by the beautiful Mekong and Khan Rivers. We booked a hotel with a river view and prepared for five days of exploration. Walking around the city was as beautiful as we had imagined. French colonial buildings were set next to temple after temple. We visited several sites and walked up the mountain in the town centre at sunset for beautiful views of the area below.

We were in Luang Prabang long enough to discover the area slowly, and we started each day with a couple of hours of school in a cafe. Without a desk or table, our hotel was not the best place for school. By this point in the year, we’ve finished most of the stuff on the curriculum, so we mostly have worksheets left of either stuff that the kids hate doing or stuff that we hate teaching. As such, we’ve started doing lots of spelling tests, which the kids seem to like, and spelling is something that they can keep improving.

Dawn Alms Giving

After the amazing Alms experience in the village, we decided to take part in Luang Prabang as well (or, more specifically, Izzie did). The ceremony takes place at dawn, and hundreds of monks walk down the streets collecting food and money while offering blessings. Isabella knelt next to two older Laotian women in the middle of a busy street. The Alms in Luang Prabang has a lot of tourist participation, but somehow the tourists near us spent more time taking pictures of Isabella than the Monks. One person actually moved a street lamp so that he could properly light Isabella. Isabella remained in place, handing sticky rice to every monk that passed her. The alms-giving ceremony is a longstanding tradition in Laos Buddhist culture, and we were glad to have learned and experienced it in the village first (before witnessing the chaotic tourist version in Luang Prabang).

Kuang Si Waterfall

Luang Prabang has some exciting attractions to see including a number of waterfalls. The Kuang Si Waterfall is, without a doubt, the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen. The cascading turquoise pools and falling water are stunning, but the experience is elevated to a new level because you can actually swim at the base of the waterfall. Although many tourists visit the site, only a few take the plunge and go swimming in the very cold water. Michael and I braved the temperature and took advantage of the unique experience. The kids put their feet in one of the pools and had little fish give them a natural pedicure!

We also stopped at a Buffalo farm where the kids learned about Buffalos, including brushing and feeding them. We did not have the Buffalo ice cream since it was well before lunch when we arrived.

Julie loves art and crafts, and our year of worldschooling has her missing a lot of kindergarten crafting. So whenever I can find a hands-on art activity, we’re in! A highlight for me was Lao Pottery House which our Homestay guide told us about. Each of us was given a pottery wheel to spin clay and an assistant to help keep our hands steady. I know it sounds a little too much like the movie Ghost, but I assure you it was just fun and allowed even five-year-old Julie to make a bowl at the studio. Julie loved the experience and had finished three things with her assistant before Michael and I had both poorly made one each.

Luang Prabang proved a great stop and we were so glad to have added Laos to the trip. Now we’re headed South by rail -our first real train journey on the trip!

Where we stayed:

By the numbers:

  • ATMs Mike tried before 1 worked: 9
  • Monks Izzie says walked past her at the alms ceremony: At least 1000 (maybe 200 in reality)
  • Family haircuts: 2 (Mike and Julie). Isabella refused to get one as she is still protesting her mom having her hair cut short in Sault Ste Marie.
  • Number of baby birds released: 2, we gave in and bought a little cage and the girls released them.

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