Friday, March 4, 2011

A wrong number phone call from China woke us up early to get ready for our flight into Laos. We spent the night at the Novotel Hotel at the Bangkok Airport and had a quick breakfast before dashing off to check in for our flight. We were very impressed with the hotel - a good thing because we have another night here when we return to Bangkok in about five days time.

Our flight on Bangkok Airways left on time and the two-hour journey to Luang Prabang went by quickly. The first thing that struck me as we were coming in to land was how green and hilly this whole area is.

We applied for our visa on arrival at the airport and were quite surprised to note that our visa fee was the most expensive of over 190 countries on the  fee list. Canadians have to pay US$42 each for a visa compared to US$35 for Americans and Brits. Not sure what Canada has done to warrant us having to pay the most.

The entry process was extremely efficient and within minutes we were greeted by our driver from Amantaka. Instantly, we knew we were back in the good hands of the Aman Resort group. There were cold towels waiting for us in the car as well as ice cold water. The driver even knew our first names. These guys are resort industry equivalent of Apple computers!

The drive from the airport to the hotel took about ten minutes and as soon as we reached Amantaka we could feel the ambience that Aman is famous for. We were greeted by the management team as our car pulled up and we really enjoyed the glass of tamarind juice we were given as we checked in. Our room here is superb. We have a private pool and garden area, and within minutes we were soaking up the sun.

We shared a delicious lunch of fresh spring rolls. For a main course, Catherine had the chicken fried rice while I had beef red curry with sticky rice. After lunch, we went out to explore the town of Luang Prabang. The whole town is designated as a world heritage site. It is a delight to walk around and quite hard to describe. The best description we could come up with is to take the oid French quarter of New Orleans, make the buildings older and then clean some of them up! The whole place is absolutely charming. We were impressed with the overall cleanliness of the town and the fact that no-one asks you for anything even though the country is one of the poorest in south-east Asia.

Following a stop for a cup of tea, we took a tuk-tuk back to Amantaka and then decided to try the spa. We both opted for a foot and leg massage/pedicure - it was to die to for! Dinner consisted of more fresh spring rolls and apple fritters with ice cream. We were also happy to find a gift of a dragon fly made from straw which was left on our bed by the turn-down person. 

Tomorrow, we have organized a temple and village hike for the morning with a Mekong River cruise in the afternoon.


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