Bamboo Bridges In Luang Prabang, Laos

Bamboo Bridges In Luang Prabang, Laos

Two bamboo bridges cross the Nam Khan River, connecting the center of Luang Prabang with its suburbs.

These are pedestrian-only seasonal bridges that are very beautiful, even if a little rickety when you cross the river on them.
The river below was not fast flowing nor too deep, so even if the bamboo bridge were to collapse, all it would mean is a dip in the cool river.

The bridges are erected each November, after the rainy season ends, and are taken down each June, before the next rainy season begins, when the river swells up and the water level rises.
The bamboo poles and slats can be reused for three years.
The bamboo used for the bridges is harvested from the neighboring countryside, and it is tied up and then floated down the Mekong River in big packages.
The construction takes about one month and it is accomplished by local craftsmen.

There is a small fee to cross the bamboo bridges, and we had a fabulous time exploring the handcraft workshops on the other side.

It is a nice, enjoyable way to spend the day.
We crossed on the bamboo bridge right after lunch, and crossed back at sunset, just when the golden rays of the moon were twinkling on the water.

A small sign attached to a nearby tree said:

“Take a nice refreshing enjoyable walk to see a more authentic experience in Luang Prabang.
As you cross, you will come to a rock cropping.
Cross the bridge and go up the steps.
Take the trail to the left to the view point to see the sunset over the Mekong River!
So beautiful scenery!
Go up the steps and take the trail to the right, follow the path up to the road.
Turn left on the road and walk 20 minutes to the village.”

As suggested on the sign, we climbed the steps and when we got to the paved road, we went left to visit the village.

We stopped at a big workshop of weavers and admired their simple wooden weaving looms on which they create beautiful silk or cotton fabrics in beautiful patterns.
Some workshops give weaving lessons for those interested in trying.

Several shops in the local village make ‘Sasa Paper.’
It is a famous Lao handmade paper made from Mulberry trees.
We were invited by the workshop owner to try our hands at making paper.

The branches of the mulberry tree are pounded with a wooden mallet and lots of water, into a pulp.
The pulp is then scooped onto a wooden tray lined with mesh.
While still in the water bath, we embedded petals of Bougainvillea and green ferns into the pulp.
Then they raised the tray, allowing the water to drain out of the mesh.

The tray is then placed in the sun, and the paper is easily peeled off when it has fully dried.
The workshop also sells all sorts of souvenirs made from Sasa paper and also from paper made from elephant dung.

There are also some wood carving workshops where we saw craftsmen at work.
They too had a shop full of wood carvings and beautiful kitchenware.

There are a few restaurants in the area, ranging from places selling street food to sit down places with lovely views of the river.
We took a break at a nice teahouse that offered a good selection of loose tea leaves.

Most of the tourists who come to this area do not cross the bamboo bridge on foot.
They come by car or mini van and tour the area with their drivers.

There are also three temples in the area, and as we turned back to cross the bamboo bridge back to the city, we heard the soothing sounds of drumming and temple gongs being rung by two monks in saffron robes.

In Luang Prabang, sightseeing is done at a very relaxed pace.
Like most tourists, we spent most of our days sightseeing, sitting in cafes, eating, drinking, drawing, painting, reading, writing, chatting or playing with our cellphones.

We saw other people playing cards, singing Karaoke, working on their computers, coloring books or looking at their guidebooks.
We welcomed a day of going for a longish walk over the bamboo bridge.

From Luang Prabang with love,

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