...17th of Feb and we finished the day by going to a place I had already planned to go to while being in Germany. We went to visit Big Brother Mouse, an institution that takes care of publishing books in English and Lao language to get the Lao people to learn and to read their language. You can volunteer every day and give English lessons, organize a book party and lots of other interesting stuff to support the Lao people. We actually bought two English/Lao books for ourselves and left three further books with the staff to be distributed in the villages. Kjell couldn't hardly believe that there were kids that won't start going to School at the age of 6 and he was curious to find out more about it and felt proud to have supported this organization.
18th of Feb, and we got up at 5 am to drive uptown with Philipp, the Swiss owner, his son, his wife and some further guests to the so-called Monk's ceremony. This were the most reverent moments of my life and I am very happy that they shared this special moments with tourists like us. Every morning the Monks and Novices from the surrounding neighbourhood Wats line up in groups and rows to ask the people for any kinds of donations, running from sticky rice to sweets and money... we drove to their favorite spot in front of a Wat, went inside for a prayer, then rolled out our blankets, filled the sweets and cookies in bowls and waited for the Monks to arrive. They always walk by in smaller or larger groups with the "Chef" Monk (usually the Oldest one) leading them.We learnt that the "Student" Monks only had one shoulder covered with the robe and that around the age of 18 they would decide whether they'd leave the Wat and go back into a normal life or choose the Monk's life... we learnt so much that I could write a few more pages.... what an impressive way to start a day. Kjell as well was very moved and touched, so many of them smiled at him when receiving the treats.
We stayed uptown and had some French breakfast. At 8.30 we were taken down to the Mekong's pier to catch one of the 6p-speedboats and went off for 1,5 hours trip upstream the Mekong. What a nice trip on the water. We saw Elephants bathing with their Mahouts, we actually saw Monks "tubing" and went for a short stop at some Hmong Village to get some souvenirs and to try the Lao Rice Whiskey. I actually did not get the chance to try any as Kjell fell of the small wooden pier directly into a 20cm deep mud pile. I spent the time cleaning up my kid and laughing at him.. ;-). Next stop was the infamous Pak Ou Cave that is recommended in every guide book and for the first time -probably spoiled after the adventurous caving in VangVieng - we were really disappointed. A small cave filled with hundreds of dirty Buddahs in every size, packed with tourists... Kjell brought his torchlight for nothing. No climbing allowed at all. After 35 minutes we went back... conclusion: For Buddhists this sure is a Must see as their is a holy reason for the Buddahs being placed by hundreds in the cave but for Westener tourists only the Mekong trip itself is a great experience. The cave can be left out.... Kjell fell asleep on my lap on our way back.. ;-)
At night we went out to the famous and beautiful nighmarket to get some small souvenirs from the traditional local vendors and had some awesome Pad Thai (noodles) and Crepes.
19th of Feb and again we woke up early by the Monk's enchanting singing... I wouldn't survive this uninflected singsong in Germany but here it somehow fits so well in daily life and speed. While having breakfast on the porch and looking over the River I asked Kjell whether he senses that I am different or have changed: "You are much more relaxed and calm", he said straight away. LuangPrabang really slows down my heartbeat and breath... I love this place!!
We packed up our bathing stuff and went out with other guests to the KuangSi Waterfalls outside LP. I am so glad we showed up at 9 am already. Therefore we were almost the first ones to arrive and had the place with its several hidden Waterfalls and swimming spots just for ourselves. Wow, I felt like Brooke Shields in the 'Blue Lagoon' except that my Christopher Atkins was 5years old and -well- behaving like a kid. ;-)
We climbed up some crazy natural stairway to the top of the source of the Waterfall, hiked throught the Jungle and all in all had a wonderful last day in Laos! At night we went again uptown, crossed the night market and went out for a fancy byebye dinner!
20th of Feb and Philipp, the owner was so kind to take me with his Jeep to a little shop selling Lao flags for our Hasitanic ship back home! Some hours later we finally left for the Airport. Incredibly enough, the whole family went with us to say Good Bye. We got hugs and kisses and Lai, his wife even tied small bracelets around our wrists to bring us luck. How sweet they were... Chiang Mai will really need to catch up with this beautiful place!!!...