Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Luang Prabang

This is our third visit here and thanks to the UNESCO world heritage listing it remains both charming and traditional. 

In fact I would say it just keeps on getting better. 

The French colonial legacy is obvious in the buildings and the baguette, café and coffee culture but there is more Lao ownership. 

We have witnessed that valuable skills are being learned and employed by young people in a wide range of professions. 

One can only assume that many of these beautiful structures were in fact built with Lao labour but virtual colonial slave labour. 

There must now be a sense of pride in the heritage that the town has been able to protect and the relatively newfound wealth that it brings. 

In so many places one returns to find that the original charm has been lost to a rampant development that destroyed the very attraction that funded it. 

Here however, there are more buildings that have been restored or are in the process of restoration than ever before and more public infrastructure to benefit both the locals and the tourists. 

It seems to keep the travellers pouring in and enables the prosperity to continue. No it is not paradise, but certainly one of the prettiest places on earth. 

The peninsular of the old town wedged between the Nam Khan and the Mekong Rivers has natural beauty, ancient monasteries, world-class museums and a laid back, relaxed feel. 

As a visitor it is possible to be housed and well fed on any budget. 

There are more cafes, more expensive hotels, more incessant cries of, “Tuk tuk”, “Taxi” and “Madame” from the many more money hungry touts than ever before but we travellers can only hold ourselves responsible for inspiring this entrepreneurial spirit and the non-confrontational Lao nature means one is never pursued for very long, just frequently. 

Even though we have stayed a little longer on each visit and really only done basically the same things again, I feel confident that we will return and always have a soft spot for Luang Prabang. 

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