The night market down Luang Prabang’s main street is a good place to take a wander and search out some bargains to take home as presents. Stalls are jammed in side by side, and four deep across the street. Packed full of tee shirts (so that’s where everybody gets the Lao Beer tee shirts from), scarves, silks, pottery, puppets, trinkets, jewellery, lamp shades, machetes and those little fluorescent spinny things that you fire up into the air with an elastic band and then gawk at them slowly drifting back down, thinking “they would have been really cool about 20 years ago”……you know, when booze was just the chaser.
It’s good fun once you realise that whatever you want to buy you’re going to get really cheap, but also it’s going to be fun to haggle. Don’t forget though, you’re haggling over a few dollars/ pounds/ euros, so lighten up a bit and don’t try to drive it so low you get rude. All this is done to a background clamouring of “madame, madame”, (I don’t think the sellers like to call out to men), and once a seller has your attention they will show you a calculator with the price on. You then either gesticulate or take the calculator and plug in a smaller number (usually with one or two less zeros). At some point you either agree and hand over your kips, or start shaking your head vigorously and edge backwards. Whatever outcome once you’ve gone the smiles on the sellers faces go pretty quick and the whole “madame, madame” starts again.
The two English guys (father and son) were having a beer at the end of the market street, and we stopped for a couple before walking back down the other side of the market.
The bands are part of a blessing ritual that requires the wearer to keep them on for 3 days to gain good luck.
I like stuff like that.
Strange thing happened as well whilst I was mooching around the stalls and shooting. I had the feeling I was being watched. I clocked the guy watching me intently as I walked around, so we stopped for another beer. Not sure of his motivation, but either he would walk away, come over or wait till we finished, so whatever the outcome the extra lubrication courtesy of Lao’s finest brewery would be invaluable!
I don’t like stuff like that.