What attracted me to visit Luang Prabang? I actually did not know anything about Luang Prabang, or Laos for that matter. It was in 2008 when I saw on Lao TV Channel Discovery programme such beautiful maidens. I never knew that isolated Laos is made up of such fair skin beauties.
Day 1 (10 Nov 2017)
Noises at Capsule by Container Hotel, klia2 just before 3:00 a.m. woke me up. My alarm was set to go off at 3:15 a.m. I wanted to go back to sleep but the thought that the washroom could get too crowded later changed my mind.
I had breakfast of mee goreng mamak at the restaurant at the opposite end of Level 1, on the same floor as Capsule by Container.
Although the flight was rescheduled to depart 10 minutes earlier, it departed at the original time of 6:45 a.m. and touched down by 8:30 a.m. local time.
It was a small airport, like PNG Jacksons International Airport with four bays and two aerobridges.
There were five lines at the Immigration counters - for Visa on Arrival, foreigners, locals, VIP and another line. The queue for foreigners was very long. Another line was added later.
There was no foreign currency exchange office within the arrival hall. There were three mobile phone counters just before the exit selling data SIM cards. At the first counter, the sales lady was making her sales pitch to me but I told that I did not have any local money. At the second counter, the sales lady said I could pay in Malaysian Ringgit, which I did.
I got myself a Beeline SIM card with 3GB of data for 7 days for MYR20. The sales lady tested it and it worked fine (but when I tried to use it later that afternoon at Kuang Si Waterfall and at the hostel, it failed me).
Right in front of the exit at the Arrival Hall, I saw the Taxi Service counter. Beside it was Kuang Money Exchange booth.
I exchanged USD200 for KIP1,661,000 at the exchange rate of USD1=KIP8,305. I was a KIP millionaire.
At the Taxi Service counter, I paid KIP50,000 for a ticket in a taxi to Khammany Hotel (N19.88501° E102.12989°). This was a shared taxi. I was asked to wait for other passengers to sign up. On the notice board, it said for 3 persons.
When the signal to move came, I followed the driver. There were more than, I think 5 people walking with the taxi driver. I thought, was that my group? There were too many passengers. I was confused. How do you get into a taxi with so many people? I went back into the building and asked someone at the Taxi Service counter. Another person came out with me and pointed to me the taxi. Oh, it was a van! I was asked by the driver to sit at the front.
I was the last passenger to be dropped off, arriving 20 minutes later at about 9:30 a.m.
At the reception, I paid for 3 nights in KIP, equivalent to USD60. The receptionist walked me to my room, Room 105 and before she left, she told me she could arrange transport to Kuang Si Waterfall, etc. I asked her how much it would cost and when did it depart? She said KIP45,000, departing at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
I said I was interested in going to Kuang si.
I took my bath, cleaned up and charged up my batteries. I left my room at 10:50 a.m. and went to the reception desk. I asked the receptionist, who was also the madam of the house about booking a seat to Kuang Si.
She said I needed to pay KIP45,000. I asked her whether I should pay to her or to pay to the driver when he arrived. She said I should pay her.
I was hungry, as I had not my breakfast yet. I asked her where I could find lunch, seeing that the hostel was not providing lunch though there were a few dining tables there. She pointed to the direction of Sisavangvong Road and told me to be back by 11:30 a.m. I walked out. There were a few food shops, with hardly any patrons. No, I would not take the risks of going down with Delhi belly so I walked back still hungry, as it was approaching 11:30 a.m.
On the way back, I saw a group of men talking to a lady. Then I heard "lan pak ....." sounded Foochow .... then "sek". "Lan pak sek"? That's 210 in Foochow. I listened more intently. Yeah, one of them was telling his friend to negotiate with the motorcycle rental lady. He obviously could not speak English and was telling his friend what to say to the rental lady. I turned around and took a snapshot of them haggling with the lady.
The tuk-tuk, more likely the songthaew I was expecting to pick me up at 11:30 a.m. did not showed up. At 11:37 a.m., I asked the receptionist about the arrival of the tuk-tuk. She called and said it would be arriving in 5 minutes. It arrived within 5 minutes. The window was tinted. I could not see through the glass but took a photo of the front of the van and saw passengers on the front but could not see anything at the back. I opened the side door. It was full. One passenger stood up and went to the back, giving me his seat. I was the last passenger.
The driver came around after talking to the receptionist. He asked us to pay KIP20,000 each for the entrance fees to Kuang Si and we complied. Then, we departed. Due to lack of sleep, many road bends and weak air flow from the air-conditioner, I sweated and was feeling a little dizzy. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at the parking lot at the base of Kuang Si Waterfall at 12:30 p.m.
On arriving at the parking lot, the driver informed us to be back by 3:00 p.m. Then, he led us to the entrance to Kuang Si (N19.75107° E101.99656°) which was about 50 meters away. At the entrance, I was expecting to be given the entrance ticket but none was issued to me or others. So what happened to the KIP20,000 we each paid?
I put on my Sony adventure camera after entering the gate. It was shady and cool.... a nice place.
A few steps down the slope was the bear sanctuary. I took a few snap shots. Then the foot path went up a slope. A minute or two later, I saw the first lovely waterfall. Many people were there. Some were taking photos while others were in the pool enjoying themselves in the water.
On and on, I went up. The final waterfall was the largest, the grandest and the most beautiful. The water volume was great, unlike those that I saw in many of the photos and Youtube videos where the water flow was limp and weak.
From there, I walked back to the entrance, and this time, I was using my smartphone to take pictures for my Facebook posting. They turned up very well with the wider angle.
I exited the park just after 2 p.m. The van was scheduled to leave at 3:00 pm I was thinking and hesitating before that whether I should just stay inside the park and chill until the time to leave come. In the end, I decided to exit thinking of exploring the shops at the parking lot. First, I went to find the van. I could not remember where it was parked exactly but found it soon.
Most of the shops were restaurants. I had too much time left.
At about 2:50 pm the driver turned on the van air-conditioner. I went inside waiting. The passenger in front of me (he was Dutch) talked to his two new found friends sitting with him. He was telling them that the driver would wait a maximum of five minutes before leaving. It did not wait for passengers. That was his experience. Fortunately, everyone was there by 3:00 p.m. and we left punctually at 3:02 p.m. I was the first to be dropped off at about 3:50 p.m.