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____ Nov 2nd, 2003 06:35 PM

Is it forbidden to criticize Luang Prabang in this forum?
I've posted a message where I said that in my opinion Luang Prabang is too touristy.
That message was soon removed from this Forum.
Let me try again:
I've been there, and it was worth the trip.
But everyone says that the best thing about the place is to "enjoy the slow pace of life" (the temples are much less impressive than in Bangkok, for example).
Instead of a slow pace of life, I've found a small city full of western tourists, and commerce related to tourism.

Kathie Nov 2nd, 2003 07:47 PM

Posts are only removed for personal attacks or general nastiness or because they are advertising. The fact that many posters on this board disagree with you wouldn't be enough to remove your post.

If you thought LP was "too touristy" I expect you confined your walks to the couple of blocks of the main street that are filled with backpackers, cheap cafes with western food and internet cafes. The temples are "working temples" with monks in residence. It's a very different experience than Bangkok. Did you spend time wandering the back streets, visitng the small temples and talking with the novices, going out of town to the silk weaving villages or visitng Hmong villages? Did you walk through the local markets? I think we saw only one or two westerners in the local markets and we spent hours there.

rhkkmk Nov 2nd, 2003 08:10 PM

i also noticed that it was may have been removed because i wrote some nasty things about your comments...within 4 hours it was gone....sorry....i will take the blame...

____ Nov 2nd, 2003 10:02 PM

rhkkmk, could you enlighten me in a non-nasty way?
I've been to the silk village, and to the paper village (I've bought a lot in that one - paper is the perfect small gift, cheap and light!).
As I wrote, it was worth the trip. I just don't think that the back streets, villages etc of LP justifies considering the city such a unique place (you can find that in other places in Asia).

orgy7 Nov 3rd, 2003 12:44 AM

hey don't step on my toes. im the oficial black sheep in this forum.. :

I don't know I was up there last year durring the waterfestival and I still diddn't consider it too touisty.. but off course I prefer cities with populations over a milion.. LP is a nice town not a village if you want quite village setting look for a romote village. where people point at you as you stroll up and down "the street".

JamesA Nov 3rd, 2003 12:52 AM

27,984 tourists stand on the beach of a tropical Island staring at eachother in Silence. Suddenly in complete unison the all scream out 'Trouble with this place is too many tourists'!

GeoExpe Nov 3rd, 2003 01:40 AM

As you wrote "it was worth". Luang Prabang was inscribed in the World Heritage list together with another 582 cultural sites because it is an outstanding example of fusion between the traditional architecture of Lao urban structures and those built by the European colonial authority in the 19th and 20th centuries (source UNESCO). This is the optic through which you must judge this small town and not compare its temples with the more "eye-catching" ones you can find in Thailand. Of course, if you have visited this pretty "small-small town" during a peak tourist season before then you are likely to have met several fellow travelers who, like you, wanted to visit Luang Prabang. If your sightseeing was limited to those sites that everyone wanted to see (we do not mention them here) and perhaps just an evening walk through the tourist packed Sisavangvong Road with its shops and cafeterias and you did not venture into the town which has many wonderful "genuine" surprises to offer, then you really missed something.
At dawn not many tourists "feel like" waking up too early and going to see the Theravada Buddhists alms giving ceremony, for example. In general you can always expect to meet with tourists if you are traveling to those destinations where everybody else travels, the alternative is to venture on a Geographic Expedition.

____ Nov 3rd, 2003 06:19 AM

I agree that LP deserves to be put in a list together with another 582 cultural sites in the world.
I was just trying to understand why people love it so much that normally helpful persons like rhkkmk become so angry just because someone dares to write that the place is fine, but is not one of the, say, top 30 cultural sites in the world.
Of course, if you are a budhist, that reaction is explained (or not - I believe budhists are usually not stressed so easily!)
I just want to change ideas. I hope lots of people continue going to LP. I prefer tourists spend their money in Lao, a poor country with a nice population, than in "rich" Europe or US, for example. And maybe, if they know how life is in poor countries, they won't vote for presidents that spend billion in weapons, instead of contributing to develop those countries.
Ops, this is not the forum for this.
Back to the subject: please, I would like to hear about examples of "hidden" wonderful surprises that an ignorant tourist like me could have missed in LP - surprises that won't be found in other SEAsia small cities.

rhkkmk Nov 3rd, 2003 10:20 AM

i don't want to repeat it but jamesA has summed up my comments in a much nicer was the attitude i read into your comments about tourists visiting a place....

JamesA Nov 3rd, 2003 03:52 PM

I think we all agree that the utopia scenario is to retain the history, culture and natural beauty but at the same time ensure modern facilities that bring benefit to people such as education, healthcare, access to information ( internet etc ) are all worthwhile 'developments'. Trouble is rarely is a good job done of getting this balance right.

One of the biggest 'eye-sores' in any developing country is the way electricity wires/pilons may the whole landscape and old buildings, there isn't sufficient money to lay underground cables. Fast over-developement unplanned changes things often too fast.
Things do change, but I guess the best we can do is seek out those wonderful places and accept them for what they are.
Why does every supposed 'free thingking traveller' head straight for Koh San Road in Bangkok? Go into the other areas and suburbs of Bangkok and you will never see a single 'visitor'.
When people say things like 'Is there anywhere in Thailand that is not overun with tourists' the factual asnwer to that is that a 'serious' 99%+ of the country hardly ever/never sees a single tourist.
If I drive my car to Issan and stop along the road for gas people come out and look and point 'Farang!'. If you stop at a KFC at a roadside gas station every word on the menu is in Thai, no-one speaks English, yet the concept is that fast food caters only to 'tourists'.I regularly drive between Bangkok and the south and apart from around Hua Hin it is very unlikely I will see a single other 'visitor' on the whole trip north or south, until of course I hit Krabi or Phuket but that's another story. Oh, and the odd VIP tourist bus carrying backpackers from Koh San Road to the ferry for Koh Phanghan or Koh Samui for their Thai 'cultural experience'.
If you truly and sincerely want to see the 'naturalness' of any country then just head off on a local bus to a pin-point on a map, if you are serious about discovering the 'reality' of a country, but don't moan when you find youself sleeping on a mat with a gas lamp, no internet(ahhh!) etc etc.
The travellers in the 60's and 70's had all the fun!

____ Nov 3rd, 2003 06:37 PM

JamesA, I agree with almost everything you wrote.
I dont?t think it is possible to discover all the 'reality' of a country in a vacation. But, to use Cambodia as an example, you?ll have a much better idea of their reality if, besides Angkor, you go to Phnom Penh and Battambang (no need to sleep on a mat
in those cities), than if you stay all the time in Siem Reap.

rhkkmk, I usually like the company of other tourists ? this was the first time I complained about that.
That?s because before my trip I read many people talking about Luang Prabang ?slow pace of life?, and so I was a little disappointed when I found so many tourists in ?downtown? LP.
It is possible to find naturalness wandering the back streets and villages, but that you can find in many other SEAsia small cities.
In summary, my advice (even though nobody will follow my ideas in this forum...) would be: if you have 5 days in Lao, don?t stay all the time in LP. Stay 2 or 3 days, and go to a small town, or Vientiane (Vientiane was above my expectations).

Kathie Nov 3rd, 2003 06:46 PM

And my recommendation would be to stay longer in one place rather than spending your time going from place to place and barely scratching the surface. (We spent a week in LP) We did many things in LP and the surrounding area where we were the only westerners. One can find a "slice of life" anywhere if you are willing to be patient.

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