I had every intention to go running whilst in Luang Prabang. But unfortunately, the luxurious late night dinners, the humid heat of the day, and the lovely long lie-ins put a stop to all that.
I was in Lao PDR for two days of work, and so decided to head up to Luang Prabang to hang out for the weekend. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its Buddhist temples and monasteries.
It was also the former seat of government and the royal capital up until 1975, when the communists then took over. It’s a 6 hour bus ride north of Vientiane to get there, or a 40 minute flight. The plane seemed the better, more efficient option.
The plan was to get up on Sunday morning at 5.30am, just as the sun was set to rise. I was to run to the main street, where the famous daily alms giving to the Buddhist monks was scheduled to take place at 6am. I planned to lurk near the back, not wanting to show disrespect by wearing running shorts and t-shirts around such religious ways of life.
From there I was going to run along the river front, past the sleepy cafes and wooden guest houses preserved in their unique blend of part traditional Lao and part French colonial architecture. Hanging a left, I was going to run past the National Museum, the former royal place built in 1904 for King Sisang Vong and his family. Then I was set to climb Phousi Hill, a mere 300 odd steps up to the temple on top. I’d get there before the day heated up, and get a bird’s eye view of where the Nam Khan meets the infamous Mekong River.
Instead of this undertaking this running excursion, I decided I was on holiday, and that sleeping-in was a far more enticing option. So I turned off the alarm telling me that it was ridiculously early and fell straight back asleep again. I woke up to freshly brewed Lao coffee and banana pancakes layered in vanilla sauce. I wandered around temples and curio shops, and toyed with the idea of bringing a miniature Buddha status home with me. I read my book on a cafe terrace with an ice cold pint of Tiger beer in front of me.
They say the PDR in Lao doesn’t stand for ‘People’s Democratic Republic’ but for ‘Please Don’t Rush’. And it’s definitely hard to rush around when you’re there. So I didn’t. And had a lovely holiday, free from running, instead.