Friday, December 9, 2016

ARRIVING AND EXPLORING THE LUANG PRABANG TOWN

4TH DECEMBER 2016 ~ We arrived at the hotel too early to check in so we decided to familiarize ourselves with the place initially. The first spot we went to was the Tourists Information Centre at the heart of the town. Unfortunately, it was not opened as it was a Sunday. However, there were still people around and we managed to strike a conversation with one of the staff and get the maps of Luang Prabang.








We then continued walking and saw many other tourists on the street, and many of them were westerners/Caucasian. The road was not busy at all and there were even not many motorcycles, unlike other cities in Indochina that I had visited before. You could walk safely here, without being worried to get hit by any vehicles.


There was this one stall selling all types of bread, pastries and cakes. Many people could be seen buying throughout our stay. We checked out this outlet too but were disappointed as the only gluten free food available was the chocolate cupcakes.


As we continued walking to exactly nowhere, the were locals sitting by the roadsides, selling all kinds of touristy items. All of them were women. I guess the men must be occupied with other work which required hard labour somewhere else. :)














Women sewing or stitching while waiting for people to come look at their merchandise items was a common sight in Luang Prabang. These people must be very good with needlework.












We simple walked until the end of the stretch of the straight main road through the town and then went into this one handicraft shop, and unexpectedly, we were given a free ride somewhere else.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

LP101 - INTRODUCTION TO LUANG PRABANG

Believe it or not, I did not even know the existence of Luang Prabang before seeing the AirAsia advertisement when it opened its latest route to the city. But at least I am well aware of Laos, and its capital, Vientiane, as some people don't even know where the country is.



Where is Laos located?

Laos is one of the Indochina countries which shares the borders with Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Myanmar, and is a member of the ASEAN. This should be not an easy task for the security people to look after the country. 



Where is Luang Prabang located?

Luang Prabang is placed on the centre north of the Laos map, surrounded by mountains and forests. That should explain the lower temperature and cooler air here. One significant geographical landmark is it is situated at the spot where two rivers meet, the famous Mekong and Nam Khan river. The Mekong river then makes its way through the country to Cambodia and Vietnam. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Luang Prabang takes about 3 hours so you should be able to calculate the approximate distance.





Why Luang Prabang?

It is a UNESCO heritage site, where history, tradition and culture are very much preserved - hence there is no (or should not be) any social activities past midnight. Once colonized by the French, you could see some French influence to the city. This is the place you should go if you want a relaxed and calm holiday, as the traffic is (still) not busy and you could just simply walk to any place you want or get a tuk tuk for spots further away from the city. And if you love nature and activities related to it, like trekking and kayaking, this is the place to go. People at the hotel could suggest tourists' attractions for you and there is a Tourist Information Office in the city centre for you to get more help.






Any special preparation required?

the map given by the hotel

This is one place which you can simply pack-and-go. Just a pair of strong feet and walking shoes should be necessary. There will be a lot of walking and climbing to be done. Money changers are everywhere. I was told that I had to change my Malaysian RM to US Dollar and then only change the US currency to the local Kip, but that was definitely a misleading fact. You could easily change your RM to Kip here. The best rate in December 2016 is RM 1000 = 1 500 000 Kip, and that is already a lot of money. 



There is no Muslim community here so it is difficult to get halal food. So far we only came across two halal eating places in Luang Prabang but we did not try the food. That was not an issue for us as we brought our own (instant) food from home.



Is it a good place for shopping?

I might say things are quite costly here, of perhaps the locals have marked up the price for tourists, which is common everywhere else. For example, a pack of sliced fruits like mango costs you about 10 000 kip which I would consider expensive. The cheapest fridge magnet at the night market is 30 000 Kip and the funny thing is you could get a piece of shawl cheaper than a piece of fridge magnet. The specialties would be the locally hand-woven beautiful clothes, especially the ones produced by the indigenous people.




I personally feel Luang Prabang is a great place to go. People here are very friendly, the traders at the wet market and night market are polite and humble, and treat you nicely. Guides do not ask for tips from tourists. If you have the chance, better come here earlier, before the place gets too commercialized like Bali or Siem Reap, and before more Malaysians go to the markets and start bargaining like crazy.




This is one place I would consider going back just to sit by the waterfalls and enjoy the cool and fresh air when I am already retired but I would definitely not trek up the hills any more by that time.


RELATED LINKS TO MY LUANG PRABANG TRIP:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

HOME SWEET HOME - AFTER THE 4D3N TRIP TO LUANG PRABANG

with the tuk tuk driver, Sai, in front of the airport

It was time to get back to the life left behind, after 4 very tiring but fun days in Luang Prabang, Laos. We left the hotel at 7:00 in the morning and made our way to Luang Prabang International Airport by tuk tuk and bid farewell to the ancient city.

And the three friends parted our ways once WE arrived in Kuala Lumpur International Airport but I guess the memories would always stay for many more years to come.

Luang Prabang is a beautiful place to be and there is just so much to share. I will definitely "start churning the stories for my blog posts" (Rozana Sani Abdullah Sani, 2016) but for the time being I will have to first do the laundry, and keep the luggage bag and backpack. The most important thing, I will need some time to let all all my aching muscles heal so I could function like normal. 

Thanks Puan Maslinda Mohamad Dahalan and Puan Rohani Awang for the company and the 3-meals-a-day-at-the-verandah sessions. Hopefully we can get more people from the TESL group to join in our next "educational trip" abroad.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

BLOGGING FROM LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

For the school holiday this time, I am now on a short vacation with 2 friends who are my ex-coursemates from UPM TESL group, Puan Maslinda Mohamad Dahalan and Puan Siti Rohani Awang. We decided to visit Luang Prabang, Laos - not yet a popular holiday among Malaysians. The decision was made about 2 months beforehand and we safely landed at Luang Prabang International Airport on Sunday,4th December, 2016.

early morning at KLIA2, waiting for our flight

So far, we are enjoying ourselves a lot in the calm and relaxed city of Luang Prabang and everything seems to be alright, despite the minimum planning done. We have one more day to see what this place has to offer. Don't forget to visit my blog soon for more stories and photos.

at the top of Mount Phousi, waiting for the sunset on the first day

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A STRING OF WEDDING RECEPTIONS IN ONE AFTERNOON

Here is a VERY brief report of the wedding receptions attended today. I attended 5, but the one which was held by a neighbour is not documented.


WEDDING #1



FATHER OF THE BRIDE: YB Tuan Hj. Aminolhuda b. Hj. Hassan
[Ex-Senior Assistant of SMK Taman Universiti]
who is now a politician
VENUE: Senai International Airport Mosque












WEDDING #2

THE BRIDE: Noraslinah Abdul Aziz
[an ex-student of SMK Taman Universiti]
VENUE: Taman Universiti, Johor Bahru





WEDDING #3

THE BRIDE: Siti Nurulhanija Hj. Md. Tahir
[an ex-student of SMK Taman Universiti]
VENUE: Taman Universiti, Johor Bahru






WEDDING #4

THE BRIDE: Nurul Bariah Moosa
[an ex-student of SMK Kempas, who was in my  English tuition class]
and now an English teacher at SMK Nusa Jaya
VENUE: The hall at English College, Johor Bahru







Do expect for more wedding reports real soon.

Friday, December 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: "READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN"


This is one book I took months reading. There was no plot development, and everything seemed to be just monotonous with no rising action or climax right until the end, but I never gave up and finished it finally. I guess that should depict the life in Iran at that time - dull and nothing exciting.

The writing is a description of life in Tehran/Iran from the eyes of the author, who was a lecturer in a university, as well as the girls in her literature class which then later became some sort of a book club. They really took their literature novel seriously, relating the characters and the events from the books to their the happenings in their every day life. When I was in university, reading literature novels was more of a course requirement activity but these people were really obsessed with what they had read. 

One thing for sure after reading this book is I am really thankful for being born and raised in my country. Reading the memoir of Nafisi should provide an insight of the life in Iran in the 90's and I wonder how things are now. AirAsia has direct flights to Tehran now if I really want to find out more. This after effect of reading could be quite bad. And I just found out that there are other novels by Nafisi which I could try to get hold on one day. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

WHEN THE EXAM WAS OVER, IT WAS TIME TO PARTY




30th November 2016 ~ The students of 5SP of SMK Mutiara Rini had their class party after the SPM examination was over. It was held at Pizza Hut Restaurant at Taman Scientex. I taught them English last year but was invited to join in the fun. I first hesitated to come but changed my mind later.












Thank you, especially to the class monitor, for inviting me. I wish you all the very best of luck in your future undertakings and hopefully when we brush past each other on the road after this, don't forget to say "hi".