Luang Prabang

Between the Mekong and its Nam Khan tributary, Luang Prabang is palm-tree-lined street after street of French colonial architecture, travel agencies and Westernized restaurants and cafes. The city has been placed on Unesco’s World Heritage list, so it’s quite seen after. The first thing I noticed on arrival is that there seem to be more American tourists here than Lao. I thought perhaps I’d unknowingly flown to Charleston. It’s an enjoyable city, however, with the typical, ultra-relaxed Laos atmosphere, and a huge night market with lots of cool linen clothes. Continue reading “Luang Prabang”

Luang Nam Tha, and Along the Nam Ou

Laos is not China, as the three Americans and I immediately realized upon arrival in sleepy Luang Nam Tha. We’d had a long day of taking a minivan over the most dreadful roads I’d experienced in China, crossing the border (totally hassle free – I got a month-long visa and all my RNB exchanged into kip without so much as having to wait in line), and finally riding in the back of a pick-up with a German girl who’d come (as Chris said) from Lhasa with BO.  Continue reading “Luang Nam Tha, and Along the Nam Ou”

Higherland Inn

I returned to struggle again with the mountain, and the mountain won.

I’m just back from three amazing days staying at the wonderful Higherland Inn on the side of the Cang Shan. The Inn is run by Li Ping (sp?), who could not be nicer or more helpful. It’s peaceful up there, and beautiful. It’s cozy and the food is great. I wanted to live there, but all good things must come to an end. Continue reading “Higherland Inn”

Dali

Yesterday, I viewed the three pagodas outside of Dali. According to the Lonely Planet, these pagodas are “among the oldest standing structures in southwestern China.” Also according to the LP, they are free, but in fact, they are walled in and cost Y121 – Y62 if you have an old student ID (which I do). The pagodas are at the bottom of the park, and behind them is a never-ending series of temples with stairs behind leading to yet another temple, like those Russian stacking dolls. I hadn’t gone far when I was abducted by some monks and bundled into a nearby temple. Continue reading “Dali”

Yangshuo to Dali

At 6:o0 a.m this past Thursday, I stumbled down the stairs at Lisa’s Cafe and Hostel and found all the doors locked and barred. I had to catch the 6:30 express bus to Guilin, or I would miss my 8:50 sleeper train to Kunming, so when I found myself locked in, I panicked and ran all around the hostel, rattling doorknobs. Continue reading “Yangshuo to Dali”

Yangshuo…Still

I have turned into the world’s laziest tourist. I have seriously done nothing for four days. Well, that’s not true. I’ve been hanging out at a lot of cafes with many Swedes, Slovaks, Brits, Israelis, Danes and so forth. And eating a lot of overpriced noodles and pancakes. And I bought a pair of wrap-around pants. Continue reading “Yangshuo…Still”

Yangshuo

Saturday I took my Li River cruise. Before we got on the boat, we had to take a bus to the loading place and once we arrived, the bus unloaded into an absolute swarm of Chinese tourists (sprinkled with Westerners) and I promptly lost sight of everyone in my group. Continue reading “Yangshuo”

Guilin

I say Guilin is Gatlinburg-esque, because it’s a very touristy town in the middle of gorgeous mountains. The similarity ends there, however. Guilin is also on the Li River, which winds through the city, puddling into many lakes surrounded on all sides by landscaped parks. The parks and the river are lit at night with colored lights everywhere, and in the mornings, mist hangs over the huge, blobbish mountains that surround the city, and it’s lovely really. Except for all the tourists.  Continue reading “Guilin”