Phone Tours offer new glimpse of Luang Prabang

The town of Luang Prabang and its surrounds offer so many great things to see and do that many visitors draw up a vigorous itinerary so they can fit in as many things as possible each day. 
Even people like me, who’ve been to Luang Prabang many times already, get excited by the prospect of going there again. One of the things I’ve learnt about this fantastic place is that, no matter how many times you go, there will always be something new to explore and do the next time you’re there.
The last time I went was a 4 day/3 night trip with a company called Phone Local Lifestyle Tours.  This is a small, family-run tour and trekking company that takes people to see the animal life, people and cul-tures of the Mekong River.  This includes seeing wild elephants and staying in remote, rural villages that have no electricity or clean drinking water. 

A visitor enjoys the fresh air and morning views from her campsite in Luang Prabang province.

On the first day of our trip we stayed at a campsite opposite Pak-ou cave, about 30 kilometres from Luang Prabang.  This cave is a very popular tourist attraction because hundreds of very old Buddha statues line the cave at a point where the Ou and Mekong rivers meet.  
In the afternoon, we had the chance to play with some elephants that were brought by their owners to frolic in the cool waters of the river.
That night, our group took a boat to a small island in the middle of the Mekong. Here we learnt how to catch fish and shrimp the local way, casting our nets from a small, bamboo raft. Later, we helped each other cook up our catch, over an open fire, using a traditional Luang Prabang recipe. On a beautiful night we then ate and sang songs under the starlit sky.
The following day we again hopped on a boat for a leisurely ride to Meuangkeo village in Pak-ou district, on the other side of the river.  This is where the leisurely part of the day ended.  From here, our task was to trek to our homestay at the top of a hill, a mere six hour journey. 
Actually, despite the sun being hot, our walk was not too bad because we walked in the shade of big trees for most of the day.  We also had regular rests and ate a very tasty lunch by a small stream.  
Even though we were walking uphill most of the time, the sights and sounds of the jungle through which we trekked meant I barely even noticed the work my legs had to do.
Nevertheless, reaching the top and seeing our homestay was very, very welcome when it happened. This was especially so because the views on offer of the river and forest below were extraordinary.  The bamboo huts where we were to sleep were very well designed and extremely comfortable.
After recovering from the walk, some people decided to relax by the huts and enjoy the vista.  Others chose to go for a swim in a freshwater spring. Wish-ing to preserve my energy for the evening and still catching my breath, I relaxed by the huts.
An hour or so later a tour guide asked us to start preparing the night’s dinner. We cooked chicken purchased from a local villager and made a beautiful flower soup called ‘dok ban’ from some vegetables that had been collected as we walked.  
That evening, the weather was quite chilly so we made a fire.  We sat around chatting and drinking but I think the day’s walk must have tired us.  Even though it felt like midnight it was still only 9pm when everyone turned in.  I fell asleep easily, listen-ing to the sounds of the insects singing and the wind whispering in the trees. 
I shared a hut with two others and I was the first to wake up because I had plans to walk a little higher up the hill to watch the sunrise.  Venturing outside, I immediately realised there was no need to go any-where.  The sight of the morning sun lighting the valley below was amazing, and I stayed right where I was to take it all in.  
That day we visited two villages that as yet don’t have easy access to electricity or clean drinking wa-ter. At each of them we received warm smiles and hospitality. That night we played games with the kids and spent time enjoying the stories told by the locals. 
We had such a nice time staying in this village that I felt quite sad saying goodbye and watching them wave to us as we left the next morning.  I was sad to say goodbye, and sad also that I was leaving Luang Prabang province to return to Vientiane.
One thing that I can be certain of, the next time I go to Luang Prabang there will be something new for me to do there.

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update May 9, 2019)

Newspaper Subscription l Newspaper Advertisement l Online Advertisement l Online Subscription
Vientiane Times Phonpapao Village, Unit 32, Sisattanak District, P.O.Box: 5723 Vientiane, Lao PDR
Tel: (856-21) 336042, 336048, Fax: (856-21) 336041

Copyright © 1999 Vientiane Times.