From what we heard along the way about Luang Prabang, we were expecting and exaggerated experience of our sort-of-OK time in Luang Namtha.
We haven't found any of the surly indifference of Luang Namtha. Luang Prabang has a lovely quaint riverside ambience - the town is located where the Nam Kang (river) spills into the Mekong River.
There's accommodation to suit every budget - even our modestly priced teak guesthouse has a warm, uniquely Laos feel. The family just goes about its business while we pay them money to stay here. The two young teenage daughters of this middle class family sleep in the room next to ours, on a small thin mattress on the floor, their few clothes strung up from a piece of string and their other belongings and toys in one small pile in the corner.
The town is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Buildings are one or two storeys connected by a network of narrow but light laneways, lending a sense of community. It's sort of a large village with a delightful mix of French Colonial and Laos architecture.
There's an abundance of Laos history and culture. And, there's an abundance of tourists.
Their reliance on tourism is concerning. There would be major unemployment if all of us 'falangs' suddenly stopped coming.
Day 1 here was spent catching up domestic duties in the morn, a search for some book exchange shops after lunch - which involved a leisurely jaunt around the northern end of the town.
Then a visit to the town's main Buddhist monastery and its Phousy Stupa.
During the day we came upon one of the ritzy bars where we met Peter, the US born Thai-Chinese manager, who told us about a parade of ethnic Laos clothing planned for that evening, which Rosie was particularly excited about us going to.
The parade was really very well done, displaying the clothing of around twenty ethnic groups.
THEN the hip-hop boys had their chance on stage. Rosie was in awe. Peter, the manager, loved her enthusiasm. When the boys came on stage for the second time he arranged for Rosie and Tom to sit up on stage near the action.
Yes, that's them to the side of the shot.
And they got to join in for the rounds of applause at the end.
Rosie was PUMPED...
... While Tom, although excited, went back to his book.
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom
Location:Khem Khong,Luang Prabang,Laos