The Luang Prabang Half Marathon

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On October 5th Luang Prabang, Laos hosted its first half marathon: La Procession. All the money raised went towards Friends International’s program in Laos which is working to protect and empower youths in marginalized communities near Luang Prabang and provide them with opportunities to develop their skills and access quality employment, primarily through training in the hospitality industry.

Most of the race was along the Mekhong and the Nam Khan rivers as Luang Prabang sits on the confluence

Most of the beautiful race was along the Mekhong and the Nam Khan rivers as Luang Prabang sits at the confluence.

The race consisted of three 7 kilometer laps around the UNESCO world heritage town of Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang is a beautiful town which we keep going back to as it is such a relaxing respite from the noise and bustle of Hanoi. Previous photos from a visit last year here as well as some here which I took while doing my masters dissertation on tourism in Luang Prabang way back in 2007.

To make it a fun race for everyone there were three choices of distance: 7k, 14k, and the 21k – all of which started at the same time as there were only 250 runners. As my husband and I had never run more than a 10k race, we decided to sign up for the 14k only as we are planning on doing the half marathon in Angkor Wat at the beginning of December.

Much to my surprise I ended up coming first in the women’s category and 2nd overall for the 14k, running it in 1hr 9 minutes 5 seconds (There were however only 50 people running the 14k…. ) After stopping, cheering my husband in, and then drinking some water I saw that the time on the 21k was still only at 1hr 21 so I decided to rejoin the race (even though I knew it wouldn’t count as I had already turned in my chip) for the final 7k lap. I ended up finishing in 1hr 59 despite the 12 minute break so I was pretty happy with my first accidental half marathon! Next up Angkor Wat in December….

My slightly bizarre first prize - a stuffed elephant pillow!

My slightly bizarre first prize – a stuffed elephant pillow!

The rest of the weekend was spent pottering around Luang Prabang enjoying the food, shopping, waterfalls, and watching daily life…

A rather underexposed picture taken with the Rolleiflex of trainee monks doing their physics homework

An underexposed picture taken with the Rolleiflex of trainee monks doing their physics homework

The girl on the bike couldn't get enough of being hosed off her friend.

The girl on the bike couldn’t get enough of being hosed off her friend.

Coming around again - it was very hot!

Coming around again and again – it was very hot!

After the race we also decided that we needed a bit of a cool off so we headed to the Kuang Si Falls which are a pleasant 1 hr drive out of Luang Prabang.

There are several smaller falls and bathing pools on the way up to the main falls

There are several smaller falls and bathing pools on the way up to the main falls

Kuang Si Falls

Kuang Si Falls

I insisted on climbing up to the top, which is a bit of trek, but you get fantastic views looking down.

At the top - peering over the edge

At the top – peering over the edge

The hand rails had some very determined termites moving along in a steady line.

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The wooden stairs coming down had had so much water flowing over them that they too had become coated in limestone morphing into part of the waterfall.

Coming down the 'stairs'

Coming down the ‘stairs’

Luang Prabang does a great fruit or coffee shake. Having completed 21k seemed a hood enough excuse to try a coffee oreo shake....

Luang Prabang does great fruit or coffee shakes. Having completed 21k seemed a good enough excuse to try a very ‘healthy’ coffee oreo shake….

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Old houses around town

We stayed at the lovely Apsara which is a cozy little boutique hotel that has been around for years and is owned by a friendly English man who has chosen to settle in Luang Prabang. IMG_5311 IMG_5308 Laos is also famous for its beautiful and intricate silk weaving which takes place on looms in villages around the countryside. Luang Prabang is a great place to buy silk with some of the standout stores including – Ock Pop Tok and Pavillon de Jade. IMG_5466 IMG_5467 As Luang Prabang is only a 50 minute flight from Hanoi so I am sure we will be back. I would highly recommend a visit to anyone traveling in the region.

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