Thursday, June 12, 2014

Royal Museum of Luang Prabang, Laos

Here's a story from our travels with a bit of a Portage connection.

April 9th
Luang Prabang

We spent an hour this morning after breakfast (Scandinavian Bakery, Luang Prabang Division) looking for another place to stay as the nice young fellow at our place told us they are fully booked starting on the 11th because of the New Year holiday. We look at almost a dozen before finally finding one that has a room available, so we'll move there on that day. It's not nearly as nice, and doesn't have air conditioning, but it does have a room available. 
Funny story. We check out a place a bit earlier, and he has a room available but it's $45 per night - cheap by European standards, but expensive for us here. It's a fabulous room though, large with four comfy beds and a nice area to lounge in with a low table and cushions. We decide to treat ourselves and will take it for a couple of nights. On the way out, after paying a deposit, the guy says, Oh, and we are booked on the 12th so this room is not available. But you just booked us in for the 11th and the 12th. Yes. So we can stay in that room. Yes, on the 11th, but not the 12th. But you just booked us for the 11th and 12th. Yes, I forget.....pause. Well, give us our money back then. Okay, can I see your receipt? Give me the money now, then you'll get your receipt, joker. 
That's pretty funny, isn't it? Usually it's hard to be funny when it's 40 degrees outside, but this guy makes it seem so easy.
Okay, so we eventually find a room, then go get a fruit shake and cool off in our air conditioned room. After lunch we were off to the Royal Palace Museum which was interesting in its lack of opulence, given that it is a Royal Palace and all. The highlight of the visit for us was the room containing all the gifts from other nations to the monarchy, back in the 70's, 1975 I think. The silver articles from Cambodia were numerous enough to fill a large china cabinet. From India, loads of ivory items and a large silver disc bearing a number of Hindu images. The USA had a similar amount of things, including a ridiculously hideous model of the moon lander, but also a piece of the moon on a plaque bearing Richard Nixon's name. Just goes to show that it doesn't matter how much money and power you have, it still can't buy you a personality that the rest of the world can live with. 
It also goes to show how history continues to repeat itself.
China had given, among other things, the most gorgeous ivory balls that had carved ivory balls inside. The largest was made up of 22 balls, all carved, all moveable, all progressively smaller inside one another. Amazing.
Denmark gave some nice stuff, Australia a boomerang, and some smart gold containers.
Canada's gift to the monarchy? A Mayfair plate. Seetusee glass, I think we call it. 
Maybe that's only funny to Portagers, I don't know, but it was sure funny to us. Laugh out loud funny, in fact. So loud that the museum attendant came over to make sure we weren't up to something sinister.
We pointed to the plate and said that as beautiful as that plate was, we might have to go out and get something else to add to Canada's contribution.
A seetusee plate in Laos. Awesome.
After that we walked down the river to Wat Xieng Thong and had a look around. Then we just wandered around the town, occasionally getting sprayed or doused with water. Earlier in the day, Matthew made a squirter out of his water bottle by cutting a hole in the cap. One group of twenty year old guys approached Matthew, motioning that they were going to spray him and Matthew squirted the main assailant in the face and ran before the guy could get him. He and all his friends laughed at Matthew's sneakiness. We pretended we were not associated with Matthew in any way.
Supper at a nice riverside place but Laura ordered a papaya salad that was short on papaya and long on hot. Inedible hot. I gave it my best, but was easily defeated.
Then a walk though part of the night market, and then back to the room to relax a bit before bedtime. Our TV has some awful but addictive games on it so we play for a while before getting to sleep.