The first thing that someone told me as soon as I checked into my hostel in Luang Prabang was that the food here is amazing.
I have to admit, it definitely did not disappoint!
Luang Prabang Cuisine
I had my fill of the amazing baguette sandwiches that make up a large amount of the street food here.
They have this amazing spicy and sweet pork inside.
Which is obvi made a hundred times more enjoyable when eaten along the banks of the Mekong River ;)
There was a ton of Laos BBQ as well. I tried some of the chicken-a-stick, not really knowing what to expect, and it had the most delicious marinade.
I also discovered a street just off from the night market where there are vegan buffet stalls set up and you can pile your plate as full as you can for 10,000 kip ($1.25). So good!
I obviously went there every night. How can you refuse a $1.25 meal?!
I've actually noticed that Laos is a bit more expensive than Thailand, so every dollar saved is fine by me ;)
Hmong Night Market
There was also an awesome Hmong night market every night. It was the most enjoyable night market experience that I've had so far. There weren't quite as many people, so walking through the aisles was much less crowded, and the prices were pretty decent for the unique pieces being sold.
There was obviously the usual touristy wares, but also a lot of unique things that I haven't seen yet, super refreshing!
Big Brother Mouse
A really cool couple that I met on the slow boat, who are from New Zealand ('kind of like Canada, only better'), told me about Big Brother Mouse.
It is a local Laotian organization started by a novice monk who wanted to change the norm that 'people in Laos don't read'.
He started the initiative by publishing children's books that could be dispersed in the more remote villages, and has now published dozens of them for primary school children in Lao all the way up to university level in both Lao and English.
They have an office in Luang Prabang where they invite English-speaking tourists to stop by and chat with locals in order to improve their spoken English.
I had a great time chatting with a few guys who want to improve their English so that they can work in hospitality, and then was kind of guilted into doing someone's homework for them.
Why don't you do it yourself? 'I don't have time' why don't you make time? 'I don't know if I can explain. Your life and my life, very different. I work with my parents on the farm all day and just had time to go home and change and come here. This is due tomorrow' Okay fineeee
He felt bad about it, but by the end he asked me to tell all my travel buddies to come. 'We need to practice English so bad, we need more people like you to come help us'. So there you go. At least I had helped a little bit.
Giving of the Alms to Local Monks
I never managed to get up in time, but there is also the giving of the alms ceremony every morning at 6am where the monks walk around and ask for food from shop owners.
It's a bit of a shame since it has become quite the tourist attraction here in particular, although it happens in every place where there are temples. Which is everywhere.
I was told that you should buy rice beforehand at the market and not from the hawkers in the morning, and to only give out offerings if you feel like it comes from a genuine place.
Otherwise, it is fine to hang back and snap a few pics respectfully.
I heard that some (okay, many) tourists were slightly disrespectful and only gave out rice purchased on the spot for a photo shoot, and would get right up in the monks' faces with huge flashes to get a picture.
Pas cool, guys.
I will hopefully get my act together one of these days to see it first hand, but I will most likely just hang back since I'm not Buddhist and feel like a bit of an imposter otherwise.
Spicy Lao Backpackers Hostel
Last, but certainly not least, was my hostel experience in Luang Prabang at Spicy Lao, strangely also called Lemon Lao.
It was a love-hate relationship.
I loved the true backpacker atmosphere there, everyone hanging around the electronic charging station or the tables in the front yard. I met some pretty awesome people there, so that definitely made the experience worth it for me.
I did not appreciate, however, the fact that there were no window panes in the dorms, and only a curtain over the doorway, so it was the loudest place I've ever stayed. Listening to people 'jam' til 4am gets a bit tiresome after a while.
Oh, and it would be nice to have a functioning fan when it is deathly hot on the top bunk, which was so high it was like climbing down a mountain every morning.
And the showers could definitely be washed a few thousand times more than they are. It's just wonderful when you come out of a shower smelling more like cabbage than you did before. Le vomit.
Anywho, enough of my rant. I probs should have just changed to another guesthouse, but I just...didn't. Lesson learned: sleep IS important!
Overall, I had a wonderful time in Luang Prabang and could have spent a lot more time there, but it was time to keep movin' on.
A la prochaine, belle ville sur le Mekong :)