Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Luang Prabang: Nov. 30 - Dec. 3
Lane leaves around mid-November, some days later my bike breaks down during rush hour traffic along the northern end of the moat, conveniently enough in front of a bike shop which agrees to take it in, but when I return the next day, it’s been inexplicably transported to another shop on the opposite end of town. The diagnosis: something to do with a busted piston and my own personal failure to ever change the oil. Costs me $90, which is almost half of what I initially paid for the bike. At the end of November I jump on over to Luang Prabang for a little weekend excursion and reunion with Lane. On the single-engine nausea-inducing plane I have to endure some British guy citing facts he learned from Michael Moore movies. On the ground, the city possesses an understated quality – not exactly very bumping – someone described it to me as a Disneyland for French geriatrics (whatever that means). If you recall, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam were all once under the mighty colonial rule of France. There’s a beautiful waterfall not far outside of town with the kind of vine swing I’ve long fantasized about, be we decide the water’s too cool for swimming. Back in town, we climb up the centrally-located temples perched high above and possessing grand views of the city below, surrounding mountains, and muddy Mekong. At night, Luang Prabang’s equivalent to Chiang Mai’s Warm Up – the swankiest drinking hole to see and be seen – is a joint called the Hive Bar, one of the few places along with some other cafes sprinkled throughout the city that look as though they could’ve been taken right out of yuppie-town USA. At the Hive Bar, Lane and I entertain two Laotians with crushes on us the size of Texas while five British girls lap up the attention of tens of love-hungry European males, whom by tagging along with after closing lands us in a disco-esque bowling alley at 1am – the only place opened after midnight in this curfew-enforcing communist country. It’s time for Lane and I to say goodbye. We hug and I pray to Buddha almighty that he survive his travels and make it home in one piece. It will be many months before we are reunited again. (editors note: Lane did indeed make it home in one piece, although his glasses were to be broken by a monkey and his bathing suit torn off by a floating branch in Halong Bay).