not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good Better Best. Boom.

Every day has been better than the previous. Honestly. Every town is better than the one before. The food is delicious and the people are fantastic. The scenery has gotten increasingly beautiful with every move I've made. And it's gotten cheaper as well as I've cruised on. Aside from the fact that I'm missing Mick way more than I'd anticipated, this is the happiest I've been. Totally content. Everyone keeps asking me when I'm going to visit the temples or the caves, take in the sights. They all gasp in disbelief when I tell them that I haven't, I won't, and I have no plans to do so. If you've seen one temple (or in my case, if you've seen nearly 40 of them), than you've seen em all. I don't want another photo of a Buddha sculpture, and I'm sure that my facebook friends don't want to see another one either. Today was temple & "touristy" free...and it was divine. Woke at 6am and saw the monks procession, went to the morning market for a light breakfast and some social time with the elder Lao ladies who were doing their daily grocery shopping. I'd rented a bike which has proven to be an outstanding decision. Rode my bike to Joma Cafe and indulged in an expensive coffee. For 16,000kip ($1.98) I enjoyed the priciest cup of Joe in all of Luang Prabang. But- it was a large mug of freshly brewed coffee (no sludge with sweet milk- which I Do enjoy cold, but Don't enjoy hot). Also, I got a free refill. For 3 hours I relaxed and enjoyed my coffees, their comfortable chairs, and of course..their free wifi!!! After my lazy morning, I continued on with my lazy day. I covered some serious ground on my fabulous new was glorious. I love this town even more than I did upon my arrival. It's adorable. Had a hankering for some Pho (Asian noodle soup) and had a plethora of shacks to choose from. One in particular was packed FULL of Lao people. Clearly, this must be the place. It was a bit more than the other places - 15,000kip - but by far the best I've had yet!! I have tried Pho in every town I've been to in southeast Asia- and this one takes the cake. She had one item on the menu: Pho. With pork. There was no sign to the restaurant and the seating was informal. A huge plate of fresh herbs and spices came with my bowl of soup: mint, cilantro, Thai basil, watercress, lime, chilis, etc. The broth was PERFECT- not bland like many that I've had thus far. The pork came two ways- a bit of loin that had been sliced, and perfect miniature pork meatballs. Ammmmmaaazing. I finished my bowl quickly and was tempted to ask for seconds. I denied my "inner fatty" and told her NO- only one bowl!! Dangit. Got back on my bike and peddled my fatass home. When I got back to my homey-yet-semi-creepy guesthouse I passed out. Slept like a rock for two hours, making up for the few hours I'd gotten the night before. Decided on some dragonfruit for an afternoon snack-- grabbed some from my stash, picked up a knife and headed for our guesthouses front yard. A Lao man, in his 40s or 50s approached me and asked if I was the one who played guitar. When I said yes he asked if I didn't mind allowing him to play a tune or two. No problem at all. Turns out that my new friend Pang is an outrageously talented individual. A classically trained guitarist, fluent in french, with a pretty good handle on English. We passed the guitar back and forth and shared dragonfruit. I gotta say, my mini travel guitar was a great investment...the best $140 I've ever spent. I said goodbye at 4pm, jumped onto my bicycle and peddled as fast as I could to the Lao Red Cross. 4:05pm and I'm the first woman in the sauna....and it's HOT. Burning, Scolding Hot. Over the span of two hours I'm in and out, in and out, in and out. I drank many cups of hot tea and several cups of water. Because I was there alone, alot of the Lao women and girls were attempting to chat with me. They gave me a good seat in the crowded sauna, poured me tea and offered me milk (fresh milk) to put on my face and body before entering the steambath. It was really fantastic and completely relaxing. Next I walked into one of the side rooms and enjoyed an hour long Shiatsu massage ....ahhhmmmmmaaaazing. I was rubbed down with a eucalyptus cream and every knot and ailment was addressed. By the time I'd hopped on my bike to return home, I had spent 50,000kip ($7) and I'd enjoyed 3 and a half hours at the Lao Red Cross. My skin was absolutely beautiful, my hair was silky (thank you deep conditioner!)and my soul was happy- down to the core. There was a light drizzle which cooled the air and made my ride home just a much of a pleasure as my massage had been. I met up with Sian and friends for a dinner at the market and had the whole roasted fish that is stuffed with lemongrass- for 20,000kip ($2.50usd). Moist, perfectly seasoned perfection! Dessert was balls of sticky rice and shredded coconut, with mashed banana in the middle. I assure you that I had some sort of religious experience while eating these bits of heaven. Southeast Asia really knows how to treat their bananas! Had an early night and peddled my bike home through the rain, settled into my old bed in this ancient, creaky, beautiful guesthouse and was asleep in minutes. This was probably my most favorite day yet....

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