Moving north, we arrived into Vientiane, a quiet city for a capital with a pretty riverfront, shops, and lots of international restaurants. We were both craving some different food and after locating a few Indian restaurants had out fill for the remainder of our time here. The town has a few tourist sites but in all lacks the culture and the vibrancy of bigger cities. We stayed a few days doing not much more than renting bikes, exploring neighborhood, and chatting with a few monks at a monastery. We leave from here for Luang Prabang and the beautiful north.
The north has bigger mountains, karst peaks, thick jungles, and more natural scenery. Our first stop was in Luang Prabang, a city on the confluence of two rivers, the Mekong and the Nam Kha. The place has a small lantern lit market selling old Chinese opium pipes, coins, lanterns, leather goods, and textiles and is surrounded by golden stupas and looks magical in the early morning or evening fog. We plan on volunteering and have scoped out Mighty Mouse, a local organization set up by an American to teach English to the locals. As volunteers, we spent a few hours with a few kids and practiced conversational skills by learning about each other. My mentee, a 26 year old who works at a restaurant wants to improve his English so that he can work as a tour guide. He gets Mondays off from work, so dedicates his time by attending sessions and doing his homework.
There is a bamboo bridge over the Nam Kha, which we decided to cross to the other side to visit a village specializing in textile weaving, Mulberry paper making, and silks. We often end up at places without a plan, so walking the dirt path found lots of shops selling their wares and after negotiating a fair price bought a textile item. In the evening deciding to explore some of the wats, we climbed up Phu Si temple, which had breathtaking views of both the rivers, the mountains, and the town spread below us with its many stupas in the distance. The sunset wasn't great due to clouds and a light rainfall but as it became dark the town below lit up like many diamonds against black velvet.