Emily at Kouangsi waterfall

Although there’s enough to see and do in Luang Prabang, we thought we ought to make an effort to get out to the waterfalls, 15 miles from town. As it is currently the dry season, we’d expected a trickle of muddy water over a small rock. We definitely weren’t prepared for what we found – a 60 metre stepped waterfall ending in a series of crystal-blue pools (yes, it actually says that in our guide book, but even then we didn’t expect it!). We didn’t even take the girls’ swimming costumes, but that didn’t stop Emily stripping down to her knickers and jumping in. The fact that the water was almost freezing nearly stopped her, but then she’s obviously got less cold-receptors in her skin than me.

Kouangsi waterfall pool

Further downstream we came across beautiful blue pools of water, hemmed in by bamboo thickets, and ideal for swimming in. We also found a tiger – but fortunately (or not, depending on how you view these things) he was behind a fence. He’d been rescued from poachers at the age of 2 months, and was now being raised in a large enclosure in the jungle, with help from a British charity (we donated, but were in two minds – their next objective is to move his enclosure into town, which can’t be a good thing, can it?). Although we’re enjoying the city, we found it nice to get out into some countryside for a change – we’ll have to try it again sometime!

In the evening we went to the night market, a kind of craft-fair (oh joy!) covering the whole of the main street of Luang Prabang. There are hundreds of stalls, all pretty much selling the same thing (Why do they do that in Asia? It’s the same with villages – you pass through a village where everybody sells watermelon, and then another where everyone sells strawberries. What’s wrong with diversity?) Anyway, the night market thrived on selling needlework, silverware and ‘Laos’ t-shirts. There are only 3 t-shirts available in Laos – one with the Lao-phabet, one with the Laos flag and one labelled ‘Laos Beer’. That’s it. Period. Want another design? Go to Thailand.

Girls at Luang Prabang market

Sarah drifted off on her own, delighted with the fact that she had a quarter of a million (Kip) burning a whole in her pocket. Seemed like a lot of money to me, but apparently it only got us a painting, two Laos script scrolls, a set of silver opium weights, two shoulder bags for the girls, a pencil case for Charlotte’s return to school, five Chinese-style soapstone carvings and a Lao-phabet T-shirt. Hey, that’s not bad for $25! Didn’t get much change from a quarter of a million, but then I’d recklessly spent 25 cents on a postcard.