Thursday 15 November 2012
15.11.2012 32 °C
This morning we went to the National Museum which is housed in the old Royal Palace. Sadly Tony didn't feel up to going inside as you had to walk bare feet but the grounds are lovely so he found a bench underneath a tree and sat and waited for me. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed so I couldn't take any pictures. It didn't take long to go round but was very interesting. The first rooms that housed the throne room and official welcoming suites were very ornate with mosaic on all the walls made of Japanese glass illustrating various Laos fables. The colours used were very vibrant and the rooms literally zinged with colour. The thrones too were on display and of course were made of gold but the private bedrooms of the King and Queen and their dining room in contrast were quite simply furnished, although the dining table was set with the most beautiful Limoges china. At the end there was an exhibition of the gifts given to the Laos Government or Royal Family not sure which and there were cabinets of the most exquisite gifts given by the Japanese, the Chinese, the Myanmar, the Indian governments then there were the very mundane gifts given by the Americans including a model of Cape Canaveral but although I went round twice I couldn't find anything given by the Brits! Maybe that is why we had to pay so much for our visas!
We then visited an exhibition of the cars owned by the royal family and I had a quick look at the royal temple. Tony then went to get a million kips (about £70) out of an ATM while I finally climbed Mount Phousi. I was pleased I did as the views were great when I finally got to the top but it was a pretty sticky experience - 190 steps! When I got to the top the young French couple who were on our cookery course were there and they insisted on taking my picture. They took the one of us yesterday at the cookery school but as the humidity has made my hair totally unmanageable I decided to show you just the view. Whilst up at the top I saw a butterfly the size of a bird. It flew onto the railings and just stayed there very conveniently so everyone could take its photo. A lady had some tiny birds in equally tiny wicker baskets for sale. Maybe they were for sale as gifts to Buddha as there were also the usual gaudy chrysanthemum flower posies for sale which are definitely given as offerings. Anyway when I passed by on my way down there were only a couple left so hopefully some non Buddhist bought them and released them.
Tony was waiting for me at a coffee shop. The coffee was delicious. We decided it was so hot we would go to the Kuangsi Falls for a swim. We book mini bus tickets for the afternoon and go back to the Coconut Garden restaurant for lunch. This makes it our third visit but the food is so good and reasonable and it is very comfortable and clean. Most meals for the two of us cost about £15 including beer for Tony and lime soda for me.
The mini bus when it eventually arrives is pretty dilapidated and has no air conditioning. We hope the van we have hired for tomorrow's long journey over the mountains is better. The drive to the falls is interesting. We pass several villages with beautiful vegetable gardens and water buffalo grazing at the side of the road. When we got to the entrance to the falls though we were a bit disappointed. There were masses of mini buses and a variety of stalls selling tat. However, the falls themselves are fantastic and as they are spread out over quite a wide area it doesn't seem crowded. The water is deliciously refreshing and we both feel so much better after our dip. There was also an Asian bear sanctuary where they look after bears that have been in captivity and gradually release them back into the wild.
We got back to the hotel at about 5.30 and while I went back to the room to pack our bags Tony went to settle our bill. For some reason the hotel card machine wouldn't work so he had to go to an ATM to get another couple of million out! I find it impossible to work out what anything costs as everything has so many zeros.
We then went out for supper and had a lovely meal at a restaurant called the Verandah which over looked the Nam Kim river.