I woke up early on my last day in Laos to the banging of drums moving down my street. I had heard that the Buddhist monks had this procession every day and it was quite the sight to see, but it was at 5:30 in the morning and the thought of finding enlightenment underneath the covers of my comfy bed felt like the more important thing to do, so I did not make it out to witness this. In fact, on my last day I went back to doing the touristy thing.
In fact, I went and did the most touristy thing that the city of Luang Prabang has to offer, Phousi Hill. This hill stands in the middle of town and I could see the temple on the top from many different angles as I traveled the streets of this town. Many visitors try to make it to the top of this hill right at sunset so they can witness the sun dip down over the horizon and look at the whole town at the same time. I have been told that it can be incredibly packed at this time of the day.
So I tried a different option where I would find solitude away from the craziness of the crowds. I went up early in the morning and it was worth going at the off time. There was nobody out there but us and a small tour group from China. I didn’t have to shove my way to find the best views and deal with the uglier side of humanity. I could relax and enjoy the view at my own leisure.
There are two ways to reach the top. One entrance is right in front of the National Museum and this is the way that most people go. It is easy to find and the route is very direct, but there is another path on the other side of the hill that not many people know about.
This would be the side that I would recommend. There is a whole lot more to see on the other side than on the one most traveled on. Numerous tiny shrines to Buddha exist on the other side and a new marvel awaits you with every turn.
And I am glad that I was not urged on by big crowds as I made my way up this side of the hill. I was able to sit and enjoy the sights without having to hear the click of cameras, and the babble of twelve different languages. There were even a couple of hidden spots that I would not have found if I had followed the crowds, the most exciting being the imprint of Buddha’s foot. I had to wind off the path a bit to see it, but it was worth the small detour.
It was also really cool when I finally made it up the 360 steps to see the town. No, I did not count the steps on the way up, but I was told by the cab driver coming into town that there were 360 of them, and I don’t know if he meant both on the way up and the way back down because it did not feel like that much.
The views were really pretty up there. I was able to survey the whole town. I could point out all of the places I had been while I was up there, and I don’t know if I should have left it for the last thing I did before I left town, but it was a nice way to say bye to this town that had enthralled me for so many days.
I took the more touristy path the way back down the hill, and it was not as exciting. There was a really cool tree on the way down but nothing as notable as the way up. It was the way that most trips end. You whisk yourself off to some airport for some adventure and excitement, and when you make your way back to the airport at the end you are left with a bunch of memories but nothing seems as exciting as when you first made your way to the adventure. It was still an amazing trip that had a lot of memories, and it will be a long time before the memories I create in Laos fade away.