Final Days

Another hour or so down the Mekong and we were back in lovely Luang Prabang, where we happily checked back into Maison Souvannaphoum. Woohoo! I don’t know if tourism was down or if it was just off-season blues, but they were very happy to see us.

We said goodbye to Silasak, who was returning home to Vientiane, and settled down to the final few days of the trip.

Maison Souvannaphoum, I love you

We got up ambitiously the next morning with a plan to take a self-guided walking tour around the city – stroll the waterfront, explore some wats, see some architecture. It would’ve been a good plan except for the fact that at 8 a.m. it was already incredibly hot – close to 100 degrees F with super high humidity, hotter by far than it had been at any point during the trip.

We gave it our best shot.

big trees next to the Mekong

guesthouse windows

private residence

another guesthouse

neighborhood convenience store

narrow teak house

We did see some interesting buildings, but damn, the heat was killing us. You’d think that after nearly three weeks in that kind of climate, we would’ve acclimated to the temperature and humidity, able to withstand sweltering conditions no problem at all. What’s six or seven degrees closer to hell, right?

Ha.

garbage can wall

lovely side streets leading down to the water

monks’ residence

young disciples grappling with a homemade bamboo ladder

I think it was at this point that I finally melted down – I remember not particularly caring how interesting a standing Buddha was, nor how beautiful it made this small temple. Can you say cranky? We ducked into a nearby cafe to sit for a while with a cold drink.

the best drink of my life

We made one last attempt to continue our tour by walking to Big Brother Mouse, the local publishing house whose books we’d given to the roadside village kids. One of their book authors/illustrators happened to be at the office working on a new project, and after I told him Mel was also an artist, he asked her for a drawing lesson. (He was completely self-taught.)

Then we had lunch and went back to the hotel.

After an hour or so, as I lounged around in the A/C, Mel decided to go back to the Royal Palace Museum to do some sketches and had a bit of a run-in with authorities there. Well, not a run-in, exactly, but they barred her from doing any drawing inside the museum, which I found odd considering it didn’t house any “sensitive” information – just cultural artifacts, furniture and paintings, mostly. She was pretty irritated, but wisely chose to comply. I kept forgetting Laos was a Communist country (which is probably a bad thing to forget, in general), mostly because we hadn’t seen any political propaganda, and security and immigration at the airports had been very laid back, practically nonexistent.

Back at home we’d read about a 20-year-old UK woman who’d been arrested in Laos in 2008 with over 2 lbs of heroin in her possession – an offense that usually gets death-by-firing-squad. (The woman was ultimately spared because she was pregnant.) Foolish girl. Don’t mess with the Commies! Even the Laotians have their limits.

no bugle playing allowed

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