In our family we have two different kinds of traveling parents, one extremely adventurous and driven (dad) and the other more laid back and basically a tag along (me). What we do have in common is that we like Slow Travel, which means spending as much time as possible in one place, anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years, and then moving on. In my opinion, Slow Travel is really great for the kiddos, because there is less frantic running around and more free exploration. If you take the time to immerse your family in the culture of the place then it’s even better.
We left Peru knowing it was for the long haul so we packed our backpacks as full as we could carry and off to Luang Prabang we went with Teen Kiddo, Big Kiddo and Small Kiddo in my belly. To get from Peru to Laos, the stopovers we chose were Sao Paolo, Istanbul and Bangkok. We already knew Brazil, so that was just a quick airport layover, but in Istanbul we spent four days and in Bangkok another three. Big Kiddo did really well on the airplanes, he was no hassle really, and he loved having his Trunki to pull around although we had to help him maneuver.
We finally made it to Luang Prabang and it reminded of a Peruvian jungle town with all the motorbikes zooming around, even the plants seemed similar and obviously the sweltering heat! Teen Kiddo settled into her room pretty quickly connecting the Internet to her computer as soon as she was unpacked. Dad and Big Kiddo started adventuring the minute we arrived and I did as much as I could while my baby belly grew daily.
Luang Prabang is small town that sits between the Mekong and Nam Kahn Rivers in Northern Laos. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are more temples than you can count on both hands, one more beautiful than the other. Monks in orange robes walk the streets of the town at all moments of the day but receive offerings from the villagers (and now the tourists) at dawn, giving blessings to the people.
Big Kiddo and Dad quickly set up a walking routine that passed by a few temples and finished at the markets or Le Banneton, the best place for breakfast on the main road. They took boat rides, elephant rides, tuk tuk rides all over the town and the surrounding villages. I took part as much as I could but most of the time I stayed behind sketching or reading and helping Teen Kiddo with her Online School work.
The benefits of spending extended amounts of time in one place is that you really get to know the place, even learn some of the language. Since we stayed for three months, we rented a house in the outskirts of the center but not far enough to be able to take a quick tuktuk ride into town. From Luang Prabang there are plenty other places to visit, doing it slow lets you take it all in without rush and that´s almost a privilege.
The only shock for me was coming from a perfect apartment with a maid/friend who did everything I needed without even asking, to a big house that got dirty fast and running out of air just from sweeping in the heat. We found a nice girl to come to the house everyday, her name was Oan and she helped me transition from a working mom with a 24 hr maid into a Stay at Home pregnant mom with an occasional helper in a different country. She spoke very little English so we communicated with signs and drawings. She taught me how to cut a pineapple the Asian way; I never mastered it, I then taught her to make pineapple water. I learned to count to ten in Lao and how buy fruit from the stalls on the corner.
Big Kiddo turned two while we were in Laos, and his cake ironically had snowmen on it. He remembers his three months in Luang Prabang by watching all the videos we made and the photos we took. He likes to say that Small Kiddo was there too, even if she didn’t really see it. Teen Kiddo is a different story. Taking tweens and teens slow traveling is difficult if they’ve never done it before. We really tried to make it work for her, but it didn’t. I wonder what her travel style will be when she is older.
These are some of the great things you can do in Luang Prabang, the more time you have, the more you can do without rushing. Also, apart from flying in you can also arrive by riverboat, can’t get much cooler than that.
- Visit the Wats (temples) There are over 30 of them.
- Visit the Pak Ou Buddha Caves
- Take a hike and a dip in the Kuang Si Waterfalls
- Climb Mt. Phousi to see the temple, the sunset and the entire town below
- Stroll through the Night Market for wonderful souvenirs
- Take boat rides on the river
- Have a a cocktail or two a the Icon Klub
- Plant some rice
- Take it Slow, take photos and enjoy!
If that´s not enough, here are more ideas by Travelust!by