We started out recent trip in this rather lovely little city of Luang Prabang which has so many temples that it should be called the city of temples.
by catsholiday on April 14, 2012
Cooking Class at ‘Roots and Leaves’ Restaurant , Luang PrabangWe had enjoyed a cooking school we did in Hoi An in Vietnam and so when this was offered as an option on our tour we decide we would give Laos cooking a try at this course. ‘Roots and Leaves’ is quite a classy Luang Prabang restaurant not very far from our hotel. It has a beautiful setting with a huge lily pond around which the tables are arranged under sun umbrellas. It looks really lovely with beautiful reflections on the pond, the tables set with white serviettes and sparkling white crockery. In the surrounding garden is a fine range of fruit trees including tamarind, mango, jackfruit and coconut palms as well as orchids and other tropical flowers.We arrived and were introduced to another couple who were joining us in our culinary efforts. We were offered tea, coffee or a cold drink while we waited for the tuk tuk to take us to the market.OFF TO MARKETThe ride in the tuk tuk in the early morning was surprisingly cool and I was quite glad I had my little linen jacket with me. These tuk tuks are sort of mini buses that hold about eight passengers which are actually converted motor bikes with a back like a bus open at the sides with two bench seats.We arrived at the busy market and our guide explained that he preferred to go right into the market as it was less busy there. He also had certain people he liked to buy from as he knew that their produce had come straight from the village to the market.We bought some large chicken breasts, some pork loin and some fish from a couple of stalls before we moved on to the lady where he bought all the vegetables and fresh herbs. We bought some of the dried ‘seaweed’ which is actually a river weed from the Mekong River which is dried and flavoured with chilli and tomato. They then dry these sheets, to cook they are cut into squares and very quickly deep fried. This is a speciality of Luang Prabang called Kháy phen is served with drinks and a pretty hot chilli dip called jaew bong.The market traders were quite happy to have their photo taken but it was quite tricky as it was crowded and people were dodging in and around us. Our guide also bought us some colourful rice Laos deserts which we tried when we got back to the restaurant. I have to say they were not unpleasant but they were pretty unexciting, they tasted of rice, were sticky and chewy and slightly sweet but that is about it.We returned to the restaurant on the tuk tuk with our ingredients. I was actually quite impressed with how fresh and plump looking the chicken breasts were. The pork loin was also really tender and free of fat. I was less keen on the flies that were hanging around but they were not too bad compared to some places I have been.WHAT WE WERE GOING TO MAKEWe were each given a lovely little menu/recipe booklet made of handmade Lao paper which explained what we would be making and gave us the list of ingredients needed.We were going to be preparing about five dishes:Green chilli dip with crispy pork/chicken skinChicken or pork salad (laap) with corianderStuffed lemongrass with pork or chicken ( Ui Si Khai)Steamed chicken in banana pickets ( mok)Clear soup with watercressWok fried morning glory – a sort of local spinach which is really yummyDOWN TO BUSINESSThe chef came out to meet us and the guide who had taken us to the market was also our interpreter as the chef didn’t speak a lot of English. He explained all the ingredients and then we had to choose which dishes we wanted to use the chicken for and which the pork.At this stage we hadn’t washed our hands but were brought a bowl with lemons in it, an apron each and a hand towel. Our first task was to prepare the lemongrass for stuffing. This entailed using a pin to sort of cut through the bottom end of the piece of lemon grass. You kept on running the pin through the lemongrass and turning it until you could push it and get something that looked a bit like a paper lantern. These were put to one side then we chopped the herbs and finally the chicken. I was a little concerned about the hygiene as we chopped the chicken on the same board as the veggies and herbs. We then washed our hands in the bowl with the lemons in it.The lemongrass was stuffed and then rolled in egg and then breadcrumbs and left to be deep fried later.We then chopped more herbs and watched the chef cook the minced pork in the wok with water not oil. Once the pork was cooked all the herbs were added and it was left to cool. This was going to be a salad and the salad garnishes were then sliced by the chef with the same knife on the same board. I have to say I didn’t eat any of the uncooked salad vegetables having seen this.The chicken wrapped in banana leaf was created by mixing the herbs with the chopped chicken and then we wrapped this up a bit like origami and fixed it with a toothpick. Mine didn’t look quite as neat as the example done by the chef but it stayed together while it was steamed in the bamboo steamer.We had initially put the sticky rice on the steamer and at this stage it was ready. We had to wet our hands and roll the sticky rice into a cylinder and put it in the cylindrical baskets ready to be served from. I was a little concerned once again that my hands had only been washed in the lemon water after handling the chicken. I am so fastidiously careful at home with raw chicken.At this stage the chef sort of took over and we watched. He cooked our river weed for us and we tried it while watching him finish off all the dishes. Considering he had a very small table and it was full of all the bits and pieces I was pretty impressed with the way he presented all the food on lovely serving dishes with little garnishes as well.We were able to go across to the toilets at this stage as I was desperate to wash my hands with some soap before eating. The dishes were all taken across to a beautifully laid table on a deck overlooking the large lily pond. The large sun umbrella kept the sun from us. We could have ordered beer or other drinks but we knew we had an afternoon of sightseeing to last through so decided to have a lemon tea which was very refreshing.We enjoyed eating our handiwork and the other couple were good company so it was a very pleasant way to spend the morning and an excellent lunch even if I was rather concerned about the hygiene. We had no nasty effects after this so the lemon must have done the trick of being a natural germ killer.It was really interesting to find out what ingredients went into the dishes and also to discover that they didn’t fry their meat for the salad. I was impressed as it made it far less greasy and we thought we would try this method for some of our cooking at home.I loved going around the market and seeing all the vegetables, fruit, meat, fish and other things on sale. The sights sounds and smells in places like that are just so atmospheric. The people were so friendly and willing to explain what they were selling or doing which sometimes people are really not happy about so that was a very nice experience.I would certainly recommend doing a cooking school in here or somewhere in Laos if you are travelling in the country and have any interest in food. It helps you to make choices at restaurants and gives you a very good idea of the ingredients such as herbs and spices that are used in the dishes.
by catsholiday on April 7, 2012
The View Pavilion Restaurant and hotelWe only had lunch in this restaurant so I cannot comment on what this is like as a hotel. The hotel is right in the city and just one street away from the Nam Khan River. The dining terrace upstairs gives you a perfect view of the street below and all the temples nearby. In the distance from this terrace you can also just about see the mountains but as Luang Prabang is in an area where slash and burn agriculture still takes place most of the time the city is shrouded in a smoky haze a bit like Beijing’s smog.The day we went for lunch we had been up quite early and had walked around the city for at least four hours already so we were quite tired. What we wanted more than food was to sit and take the weight off our legs. Our little lady guide, Wong came with us and recommended which dishes we should try. She was a truly ladylike and genteel person whose husband was working in another part of the country, she was living with her mother in law and had a three year daughter whom we did meet. She was a little doll and so wll behaved but I digress, sorry.Wong suggested we try Or Lam which is a kind of meat stew with vegetables but with the addition of herbs and spices and buffalo skin and pork skin. I have to say that put me off but my husband who is game for anything ordered it. I ordered a chicken lap or larb ( depending on where you see it written) which is a minced meat salad flavoured with coriander, chilli and fish sauce and between us we thought we would try a fish mok which is fish wrapped in banana leaf and steamed with herbs and chilli. The dishes arrived piping hot with sticky rice which I have to say I got pretty sick of in the end as it is very chewy and quite dry but this was our first Laotian meal and we were keen and eager to try things. The fish mok was delicious and so tender and no hidden bones to surprise us either. The flavours of the coriander and lemongrass and chilli really soaked into the fish and that went down as a success. We did try chicken mok on other occasions and that was just as good. This was one of my favourite of the dishes in Laos.The next dish was the chicken lap which is cold. The minced chicken is cooked in stock in a wok and then cooled after this chopped fresh herbs like coriander and ginger plus others are added and finally fish sauce is poured into the mix. I admit that at times I found the fish sauce was a touch overpowering and if too much was added I didn’t like it as much. This was my first try and I really enjoyed it as it was fresh tasting and very different.The final dish was the Or Lam which I really was not keen on trying but felt that I had to give it a go. There were lots of vegetables in the stew such as carrots, squash, potatoes and beans so I managed to select a spoonful of those for my sample. The stew itself was really tasty but the bits of buffalo skin and pork skin were very off putting and even my husband who ate some said they were pretty revolting but he ate t to be polite. I am sad to say that my manners don’t stretch to eating yukky things so as not to offend.We ordered a lemon tea each to drink with our meal and they also brought us a jug of iced water. What is nice in Laos is that if you eat at a restaurant and they bring you water it is safe to drink. I think it wouldn’t be worth giving tourist funny tums from tap water so they are very careful we found.The dining terrace was empty apart from our table and there was no-one downstairs either but maybe lunch isn’t a popular meal. We found the food to be freshly prepared and tasty and didn’t have any adverse reaction from the meal which is always a plus when travelling. The service was quick and quite friendly. The owner brought our lady guide a special tea as she knew she was pregnant so I suspect she is a friend. Wong was quite up front and had said that they would give her a meal for free if we ate there so she wasn’t trying to pull one over us.When it was time to go we paid in cash so I am not sure if they take credit cards. The meal was not very expensive between £5 and £10 I believe so it wouldn’t have been worth the bother. As we were going to be walking for another few hours we decided to use the ‘bathroom; facilities before going on. These were downstairs and round the back. On the way I passed a few ladies washing up in bowls on the floor which slightly concerned me but as we had no upset stomach from the meal it was obviously okay.The toilets were separate and they were proper sit on toilets and there was a wash basin, soap and paper towels too so I was quite happy. I still used the hand sanitiser though to make sure.Prior to arriving in Laos we had read that you were safe to eat from the street stalls. As we were going around the city Wong had bought us some baked sweet potato and banana from a lady with an open fire pit and we ate that but we did actually avoid the little stalls along the road; we always feel if we lived there we would eat from these stalls but when on such a time schedule we really do not want to be laid up with traveller’s tummy as it is no fun. We did however eat at a number of local restaurants, most of them I forget but I did remember this as it was our first meal with local Laos food so one we remembered.
This entire resort was up and down we climbed steps to the tent, then down to the ‘spa’ then up to the top and down to the restaurant and every time we went anywhere there was a climb! There are twenty of these tents so had they all been full it would have been quite crowded. I believe there were about seventeen guests that night so about half full I suppose.THE SPABelow our tent was the spa; a hut with open sides and a bamboo floor. We visited this luxury establishment for a Laos massage after our activities in the afternoon. There was a small rattan changing room where you changed into a pair of baggy trousers and a top for the massage. The price of this massage was $12 US . This is a massage with clothes on and no oil but a very deep and penetrating massage most thorough and so painful but felt good afterwards. My husband said he had no idea that someone so small could inflict so much pain! This was the only treatment available and as you lay ‘enjoying’ the treatment you had a view of the buffalo grazing and the river through the trees.THE BAR AND RESTAURANTThese were two separate open sided thatched buildings which were separated by an elevated path between the padi fields. The bar was just a collection of rattan chairs where could sit and enjoy a drink which was brought to you from the restaurant hut. It was most atmospheric sitting there as the sun went down watching the men coming to light the kerosene lamps along the paths. We also were entertained by the local village children running around the fields with torches catching crickets which they then put on skewers and barbequed.MEALSThe restaurant was similar to the bar only larger with wooden floors. The tables were so heavy and the chairs similar as I could barely lift them to slide them back. The kitchen was a pretty long walk away so the staff ran backwards and forwards with food to the serving area then they brought it to the tables on the plates.Food was plentiful, nicely prepared and authentic. I found that the meat was a little tougher in the dishes than it had been in Luang Prabang so I carefully avoided the meat and went for the veggies. Desert was fresh fruit sliced and prepared, papaya, sapodilla and mango or banana or dragon fruit in different combinations. I wouldn’t rush back for the food alone but when you think that they were right out in the middle of nowhere the food was okay. The lunch and dinner were similar and on both occasions we had fruit for dessert.Breakfast was pretty unexciting. Hubby had scrambled eggs but I don’t eat eggs so i had three tiny bananas and a couple of slices of warm French bread which was tasty and fresh but bread and jam isn’t my favourite breakfast. I would have preferred a bowl of fresh fruit and a yogurt.YOU THOUGHT THIS WAS GOING TO BE A PLACE TO SIT AND RELAX!At 2.30pm we met our lovely guide and had activities to entertain us, archery with a homemade sort of cross bow and my husband was very pleased to get a Bull’s Eye while I was happy to hit the target! We also went down the sand dune towards the river to learn how to cast one of their fishing nets, which was surprising heavy and very difficult to do. We were given the opportunity to do some gold panning but this required getting into the river so we declined and just admired the local person’s skill. We also went to visit the village next door. The village had three different Laos tribes all living in the village Hmomg , Kamu and Lao- Loum. The people were all very friendly and smiled and said hello to us. The lady in the little shop was selling Lao lao whisky ( more like vodka in my view0 in recycled water bottles. We didn’t want to buy a bottle but we did have a taste each and we gave her the price of a bottle for letting us try it. The children who so sweet and all wanted their photo taken then asked to see the picture which made them giggle and run away.Our guide Lee was lovely and translated for us. We were with a young girl from Vietnam and she loved the children. We went to the school buildings but it was International Ladies Day and a public holiday so it was closed. The village had a temple which was not open and the house next door was where one monk and two novices lived. When they rang the wooden bell the villagers brought food twice a day. Not a bad life and very different from the monks in Luang Prabang who had to walk through the town with their bowls to get their food.AFTER DINNER ENTERTAINMENTAfter our evening meal we were invited over to join the village children and their teacher near the huge fire as they had prepared some singing for us. They sang a few local songs and then they performed some dances followed by assort if bamboo skipping game. This was a bit like elastics but with two bamboo poles that were banged on the ground then together in rhythm, the idea was you jumped in between the poles keeping to the rhythm. They were very good and the only other time I have seen this was at the Opening Ceremony of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games when a Philippine group performed this dance and there it is known as Tinikling. If you want to have a look then go to Youtube and type in Tinikling and there are several videos to watch.The next day we were ready to leave after breakfast and this return journey only took two hours in total as we went with the current. It was actually quite chilly in the boat and we were given blankets to wrap around us and we enjoyed our cup of hot tea too. The hazy dawn on the river was very atmospheric and we also saw people panning for gold as well as, fishermen and larger river vessels.
This rather different eco lodge is owned by the same people as the Villa Maly hotel that we stayed in while in Luang Prabang.In order to get to the lodge you have to go on one of the motor launches up the Mekong river for around three hours. This is included in the accommodation cost as there is no other way of getting there.We met our guide at the landing stage in Luang Prabang and someone carried our bags down on to the boat. It was a long way down to the river as the river was very low but the plank across was wide enough and so we managed to get onto the boat without any nasty accidents.ON THE MEKONGOnce on the boat we had a choice of most of the seats as the only other people on board were our guide, the manager of the hotel and Lan, a lovely Vietnamese girl who was a fellow guest and of course the driver of the boat. The boat was open sided but had a roof so we were out of the sun but able to see everything going up around us. The seats were wooden benches and there were plenty of life jackets on all the seats. I can’t say it was greatly comfortable but we felt the wind blowing through the boat and we certainly saw an awful lot more than we did when we were last on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia.ARRIVING AT KAMU LODGEAfter about another hour in the boat we arrived at the lodge and were met by a number of the members of staff. The landing area was a floating landing platform and then two planks onto solid ground. Once onto the solid ground we were faced with a huge sand dune to climb aided by bamboo ‘steps’. The steps were partially covered with sand and you still sort of slid down as you walked up. I was wearing crocs and took them off as it was easier to walk on the sand. Luckily the lovely young men carried our bags up for us even though we only had small back packs as we had left our main bags at the Villa Maly in their lockable storage room.At the top of the large sand dune (the river was low so this may not be such a climb if the river is higher) we were greeted by a line up of staff members who put a bamboo leaf lae around our necks as a welcome and also gave us a refreshing cold drink. The layout of the ‘resort’ explained , times for lunch and our afternoon activity time and then we were given our keys and shown the way to our rooms.OUR ROOMOnce again we had to walk up steps to the top and then down more steps to our room. The rooms are actually tents with a concrete additional side extension with is the bathroom. The key opens a padlock on the tent flap but more importantly the padlock fits onto a large very heavy wooden box which we put all our stuff into when we were out and about. I do think that the things would have been fairly safe as there are lots of people around and the only way to get into the ‘resort’ is from the river. The village next door relies heavily on the ‘resort’ for jobs so they would be unlikely to spoil their opportunities by stealing but it was better not to put temptation in the way so we played it safe and used the big chest and padlock.The tent was a good solid canvas construction with several ‘windows’. It was a decent size as it had two single beds. A couple of small bedside tables and the chest as well as a coat stand for hanging clothes on. There was electricity so we had two small fans by the beds and lights but no sockets for charging anything as the electricity was from a generator. It was actually quite cool in the night so we didn’t need the fan but we did use the mosquito nets and lots of bug spray and we were not bitten at all.The bathroom was pretty basic. It was actually a wet room with a toilet, a sink which had no tap and then there was a shower head which hung on the wall and this you took off to wash your hands in the sink. They left us a little soap and a shampoo and we were provided with two fairly thin white towels which were made into a towel decoration on our beds.We had two chairs and a table on a ‘patio’ in front of our tent and from here we could enjoy a view of the spa and the river below. We also watched a couple of naughty buffalo running away from their owner who was trying to herd them back to the village. This entire resort was up and down we climbed steps to the tent, then down to the ‘spa’ then up to the top and down to the restaurant and every time we went anywhere there was a climb! There are twenty of these tents so had they all been full it would have been quite crowded. I believe there were about seventeen guests that night so about half full I suppose.I will review the other details such as meals and activities in a second review.
by catsholiday on April 6, 2012
We met our guide at the landing stage in Luang Prabang and someone carried our bags down on to the boat. It was a long way down to the river as the river was very low but the plank across was wide enough and so we managed to get onto the boat without any nasty accidents.Once on the boat we had a choice of most of the seats as the only other people on board were our guide, the manager of the hotel and Lan, a lovely Vietnamese girl who was a fellow guest and of course the driver of the boat. The boat was open sided but had a roof so we were out of the sun but able to see everything going up around us. The seats were wooden benches and there were plenty of life jackets on all the seats. I can’t say it was greatly comfortable but we felt the wind blowing through the boat and we certainly saw an awful lot more than we did when we were last on the Mekong river in Vietnam and Cambodia.We were offered coffee or tea and our guide also pointed out that there was a toilet at the back of the boat. This was pretty basic but served the purpose!!The journey to the lodge was early in the morning and on the way we saw local villagers gathering the river weed that is flavoured with tomato and garlic and sesame seeds flattened and spread it on to bamboo trays to dry. Once dried the sheets were rolled and packed into plastic bags. The large sheets are then cut into smaller squares to deep fry quickly before being served with a pretty potent chilli relish and served as a delicacy with drinks. We also passed fishermen, buffalo grazing on the banks, women washing clothes, children swimming and all sorts of activity that entertained us for the journey.Just out of interest it is possible to go by the Mekong from Luang Prabang to Thailand. If you go by small speed boat it talks about 4 or 5 hours but you can go on a larger craft with cabins and this takes a couple of days but this is only possible when the river is the optimum depth. After two hours we arrived at the Pak Ou caves. These caves face the mouth of the river Ou and there are two main caves both of which require you to climb some fairly large, steep and uneven steps from the landing area. Depending on when you arrive you may also have to go through several other boats to get to the landing area.Both caves are full of thousands of Buddha statues. These statues have been placed in the caves over hundreds of years. The statues vary in size, condition and what they are made from. They are also in the many different poses of Buddha; some have flowers and gifts in front of them while others are so high up and on ledges that you can hardly see them. The caves are considered very spiritual to local people and they are a site of pilgrimage. During the Lao New Year which is in April there is a special ceremony when all the Buddha statues in every temple are ceremonially washed. There is a special washing pipe and bowl which is very ornamental and in most temples one can be found. There are two in these caves, these special highly decorated Buddha washing constructions are called Hang-Lin.After climbing the many steep steps up to the second cave which is very dark inside. So dark that even with our torches it was hard to see all the statues in the cave. Both caves are kept really clean and there are several small stalls with local people selling items you can put on the offering tables, insence sticks and other souvenirs and snacks. Nobody was forceful at all and we just smiled as said ‘sabai dee’ and they smiled back. The caves are quite unique with all their thousands of Buddha statues and for that reason alone they are worth the visit. There are a lot of very steep steps and those near the bottom cave are quite uneven and tricky so those with mobility problems would struggle.
by catsholiday on April 1, 2012
We had three nights in this rather charming hotel which was a former Royal Dwelling before the time of the Communists when the Royal Family were forced to leave Laos. It had a rather French colonial air about it, small two story buildings around a central pool area.As you arrived you were greeted by a pool with goldfish then up a central set of glistening white steps you entered a large reception and lounge area with polished wooden floors and lovely old carpets. Around the room were old tables with large pots and dishes tastefully arranged and very understated classy decor. A small table on the side had a few brochures for local places of interest, a newspaper stand from which you could borrow papers to enjoy while sitting on the sofas and there were also magazines and a book exchange too. Just off this large room was a small spa area and then the bar was in a sort of corridor that lead out to the pool. I think most people either at in the large reception lounge area or around the pool when enjoying a drink but there were bar stools as well as a couple of tables and chairs if you wanted to sit in the bar and watch the football which seemed to be constantly on the television in there.Walking around the pool there were several really comfortable sun loungers with umbrellas set around a rectangular pool tiled in dark and light blue stripes which was a bit different. The pool was surrounded by polished wooden decking which was a bit lethal when wet. We then walked down a set of polished wooden steps through the garden then up the glistening white painted concrete steps to our room.THE ROOMThis was a decent sized room with polished wooden floor and a blue thick carpet under and around the bed. The bed was a large king sized bed with polished dark wood ends and a mosquito net for use at night. The bed was made with lovely quality white cotton bedding, a large French style square pillow each and a small round cylindrical one which I used and found very comfortable.On either side of the bed was a unit with a drawer and a shelf under it with a cotton dressing gown. On top of the unit was a classy looking lamp which gave quite a good light, certainly good enough for me to read with.A large dark wood polished wardrobe held a fridge and a safe so there wasn’t a lot of storage for clothes and I think there were half a dozen hangers. The fridge was a mini bar with the usual silly prices so we avoided using the water in there and used instead the complimentary bottles left on the table. We did put them in the fridge to cool though.There was a flatscreen modern TV but I have to say we didn’t switch it on at any time so I have no idea what was on.Apart from this on the table/desk was a small tray with a kettle and tea/coffee stuff. We did try to make a cup of tea but couldn’t get the kettle to work in any of the sockets. The sockets were a bit hit and miss as sometimes on worked and at other times there was no electricity there at all.Wifi was available at no extra charge which was good and the passcode was ‘dontforgethespa’ which I thought was a clever way of advertising that facility. THE BATHROOMThis was quite small with a concrete painted shower cubicle and a huge shower nozzle which was great, no bath though and some days after all the walking I could have done with a good soak. There was no curtain just a narrow opening but water did get out as you showered which meant you had to put the bath mat to one side until you finished showering.The sink was a ‘gold’ bowl set in a large tall pot. There was a lighted mirror behind but it wasn’t really light enough to put on any makeup properly and certainly not good enough for me to put in contact lenses. Apart from the sink and shower there was a toilet and a small set of shelves with a hairdryer and rolled towels and toiletries. They provided a couple of bars of very nice lemongrass scented soap, shampoo and shower gel but not conditioner or body lotion here.Although the hair dryer was in the bathroom there used to be a plug hole there but it was taped over and you were asked not to use it in the bathroom which is fair enough safety wise. However the lead to the dryer was short and the only sockets were behind the TV or under the desk/table which meant I had to sit on the floor to dry my hair and keep on getting up to go to the bathroom to check in the mirror as there wasn’t one anywhere in the bedroom .BREAKFASTThis was in a sort of garden dining room and was a buffet. As we arrived we were offered tea or coffee but the rest was help yourself. A choice of four different fruit juices as well as iced water, fresh tropical fruit ready cut into pieces included dragon fruit, pawpaw, mango, water melon and some unpeeled tiny bananas were also on offer.A selection of pastries and bread for toasting with one of those strange slow moving toasters that require you to watch it go through at least three times before the bread even gets warm. They had crepes and waffles but they were served cold with a choice of honey, jam or chocolate sauce. As they were cold they were pretty horrible and after the first day I gave them a miss.My husband seemed to enjoy the local sausages which also were served almost cold, the scrambled egg was hot but once again the bacon although it looked pretty crisp was not hot either which is not quite so tasty. I think they need to look into ways of serving the food warm at least.OTHER THINGSThe pool was lovely and there were plenty of sunlougers with comfortable mattress around. As you went to sit on one a little man rushed over with a towel and laid it on the seat for you. We found the water a little too refreshing but it was very pleasant to lie there and enjoy the ambience though.The spa was a room off the large Reception lounge area and also looked onto the pool. The treatments were reasonable but nowhere near as cheap as in the city. $25 US for a massage which is okay but not amazing so we gave it a miss here and had a foot massage in the city instead for a couple of quid each which was much better value.The bar I have already said was a sort of corridor between the Reception/lounge area and the pool and also charged pretty steep prices which was stupid as the hotel was only a ten minute walk into the city where you could get drinks at less than half the price. This meant that there was no-one in the bar normally and we only had a drink thereon the first the night..A large golf trolley car thing would take you into the city if you asked but we walked as it wasn’t far. If you got too foot sore you could always get one of the local tuk tuks to bring you back but they did say it was a good idea to take a hotel card as most of the tuk tuk drivers didn’t speak English. I can’t advise on that as the only time we took a tuk tuk was when we went to the local market to buy food with the person from our cooking class and of course he spoke Laos.WOULD I RECOMMEND?This is a lovely peaceful elegant hotel. It is small and classy with rooms that are furnished in dark wood locally made and antique looking furniture. It had everything you needed in the room apart from a working kettle and a mirror near a socket for hair drying.I did feel that the breakfast food needed a bit of a sort out as like warm or cold food is not that appetising.It was in a very quiet location and a very short walk into the city so it suited us fine. There were hotels and guest house right in the city and along the river front which looked quite nice but very few had pools so if you want a pool then I would suggest this hotel is pretty near perfect. Hopefully the new manager will shake things up a bit as he seemed very pleasant and on the ball too.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009