Hi.

Welcome to our blog. We are starting to document our Silk Road journey.  We will start with some of the planning and preparation!

L5 - Shops in Luang Prabang

As well as the myriad of eateries, massage offerings and shops selling cloth, clothes and crafts,  ordinary people go about their chores in Luang Prabang in spite of the influx of visitors.  Many baskets are sold for storing things, steaming sticky rice, holding chicks and these are made by splitting and weaving bamboo.  The walls of houses in the countryside are also made from bamboo strips woven into frames. 

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So many things sold are related to religion.  Homes and shops all have their small shrines and incense and decorative offerings are regularly acquired to ward off evil spirits.  

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Food such as fish and meat is sold without refrigeration.  Food is also cooked on the street and not all stores use fans to discourage the flies and few have cabinets to prevent insects landing on food being sold for consumption.  

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These brightly coloured bundles of flowers bound in leaves are for religious offerings at shrines.  They are sold throughout.  We saw one sitting on the bonnet of a new Toyota Prado parked in town.  I guess it was to prevent accidents later in the day?

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You could find a shop like this in Eltham High Street or Deptford.  The difference is that there is not much that is upmarket of this for household goods. 

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This makes a jolly sight as we drift along bobbing under their awnings which are designed for the smaller person to pass beneath. 

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Coconuts are popular, mostly for their juice. 

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These little fellows got in because they are so cute! 

Yesterday we found both the museums open and went firstly to the Bomb museum which was a real eye opener.  

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So many civilians still being killed and maimed by unexploded cluster bombs, round mines and bombs which are hand sized, in rivers, rice paddies and fields. Children find them and are terribly injured.  

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And now some people use metal detectors to dig up the bombs to sell for scrap.  Unfortunately this leads to tragedy and so many families in the villages still have stories to tell of the effect of the American bombing campaign in Laos, attempting to halt supplies reaching Vietnam on the Ho Chi Min trail back in the 60’s and 70’s.

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The visit to the Craft and Culture Museum was less harrowing.  The skills of weaving and sewing are still prevalent in the villages and the type of craft is very specific to the village or ethnicity of the women.  

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These ethnicities cross national borders and similar folk are to be found in neighbouring Thailand, China and Cambodia.   The beautiful clothes are still being worn by local people and people selling supplies are often to be found embroidering cloth whilst waiting for customers.

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The gears are still problematic.  It is affecting our appetite to go and explore as we don’t really know when we might break down completely.  Oh for a decent mechanic!  Our itinerary is sitting next to me on the bed, but we may take the shortest route rather than capturing all the best spots when we move on Southwards. 

L6 - Leaving Luang Prabang for Ventiane

C5 - An alternative view of China