By: Nicole Long – Laos country director
I recently took advantage of my day off on Sunday by getting on my bike and riding aimlessly around Luang Prabang. I deemed the excursion, a Sunday Me Date. It was a beautiful sun shiny date with blue skies and a slight cool breeze. I couldn’t have picked a better day to roll around the outskirts of town.
Luang Prabang is a great biking town and has become even better since almost all the roads were paved for the National Games in December. So, now you don’t have to worry about dusty back roads and giant potholes. Outskirt biking excursions are best on Sundays because the roads are empty. Most locals are either relaxing at home or have gone out for day long picnics. The open roads allow you to peacefully explore in quiet solitude. I even felt it was safe to pop an earphone in one of my ears and give a nice background soundtrack to my Sunday Me Date (earphones and bikes not usually recommended .
It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. I started off by going by the JWOC Language School to play games and do a little arts project with the students. Starting my day off with laughing kids set the tone for the remainder of the day and kept me grinning from ear to ear. Afterwards I took a gentle ride through town and along the rivers until I figured out where I wanted to stop for lunch. I decided to try out the new vegetarian restaurant. It’s the first in Luang Prabang since I have been living here and it did not disappoint! I spent some time gazing at the Nam Khan River and losing myself in a good book.
After sitting there for a couple hours I decided to take the bike and head out of town. I meandered in and out of villages along the newly paved roads until I found myself about five kilometers outside of town. I came across a new edition to Heuan Luang Prabang (giant dinner and dance show playhouse), the Old Town.
The Old Town claims to give a glimpse as to what Luang Prabang would have looked like 100 years ago. They demonstrate handicrafts, blacksmithing and farming as well as giving tours into century old houses made entirely out of wood and bamboo. I have also heard that they have a candy shop, coffee shop, beer pub and barber shop. Unfortunately it was closed, but a door to the grounds of Old Town was open. I just popped my head in and took a little tour of the tiny village they had built. It did look “old”, but so do a lot of houses still in and around Luang Prabang. I couldn’t see much, but found it resembled something I would have gone to on a field trip back in elementary school (Williamsburg, Virginia for example). Its purpose is to shuffle in tourists and show them what a village atmosphere would resemble without it actually being an authentic village. I plan to go back on a day when it is open and get the full “old town” experience.
After another ride back through town, I decided the best way to wind down the day was with an hour and half massage that would only cost me $8 at the Lao Red Cross. It isn’t by any means a spa nor does it even resemble one of the local massage parlors in town. However it does have the basics needed for a massage – a mat and a masseuse with strong hands. It was the perfect end to my Sunday Me Date. I felt relaxed and refreshed from the day and found it extremely easy to fall asleep at a reasonable hour (9pm)!
Here are some shots from my Sunday Me Date…