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Saturday, 01 July 2006

Honeymoon in Laos? - Page 2

Written by Michael McCarthy
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Close your eyes.  When you hear the word ‘honeymoon’, what do you think of?  Long walks along wind swept beaches, candle lit dinners overlooking a majestic blue ocean, some sort of tropical paradise, right?  How about a landlocked communist country in the middle of the monsoon season?  My fiancé was skeptical, but I managed to convince her. Despite (or because of) its geopolitical remoteness, Laos proved to be just as romantic as your standard honeymoon destination, if not more so.


The next day, after a refreshing French-style breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, and coffee along the Mekong River, we decided to see the sights. On bicycles rented from an enterprising laundromat owner, we passed Buddhist monks dressed in saffron or maroon robes, shimmering temples with Alpine roofs that nearly touched the ground, tuk-tuk taxi drivers in their blue mini-pickups who politely offered us a ride, and other foreigners who seemed as enchanted by the city as we had already become.

We later dined at the Apsara, a restaurant that breathes charm.  Combining a French colonial front with more contemporary pan-Asian furnishings --- complete with Chinese lanterns inside --- the Apsara creates an atmosphere that can only be described as pleasing. And the cuisine ranks among the best I’ve ever had, on par with the haute cuisine of New York or any larger city. After refreshing gin and tonics, we dined on the chef’s specialty, a Thai-inspired salad, and entrees of chicken and fish curry, followed by a dessert we still discuss to this day.

A cruise along the Mekong was next for our honeymoon in Laos.  We signed up with East West Laos, a company that organizes trips aboard its beautiful wooden boat, the Pak Ou.  Unfortunately, it had already departed, so we decided to meet up with the boat by taking a more standard Laotian commuter boat to meet the Pak Ou in the village of Pak Beng. However, the commuter boat proved to be an arduous voyage, lasting over ten hours, though it had been promised to be only five.

view from pak beng lodge

Our uncomfortable commuter boat ride was quickly forgotten once we dropped our bags inside the Luang Say Lodge in Pak Beng where the Pak Ou boat was docked.  Resting high atop a hill in the village, the lodge overlooks a valley where the Mekong flows lazily through the lush green mountains.  A light mist completed the quaint sleepy village feel.  All of the impeccably clean rooms contained an enormous window allowing you to lean out into the mist, perching yourself over this setting.  If this was not enough, you could also enjoy this view from the elevated porch in the restaurant.

Finally aboard the Pak Ou, we leisurely rested on cushioned seats found throughout the boat and relaxed as the Mekong took us from one stop to the next, en route to Luang Prabang.  From the boat, we occasionally glimpsed village life along the river.  We stopped at one of these villages and had a chance for a quick interaction with the locals, observed by an elderly Buddhist monk who seemed to be blessing the entire scene. At another stop, our guide led us into the Pak Ou caves, our boats’ namesake, filled with thousands of Buddhist statues.

Arriving in Luang Prabang, we boarded a bus towards our initial destination, Vientiane. The city is described by many as laid back, even boring, and we decided to embrace the mood rather than fight it. We checked in to our two-story hotel, the “Villa Manoly,” located on a side road just five minutes from downtown, and complete with a pool.


(Page 2 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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