Nathalie Trad, designer of Nathalie Trad, a collection of leather handbags, shell clutches and statement necklaces. Her debut collection is inspired by her various travels around the world but more specifically her latest trip around South East Asia with her husband. She was completely taken aback by the natural wealth in that part of the world and started following the motto, “Smell with your eyes, hear with your nose, see with your ears, and taste with your hands.” In doing so, she saw nature from a different perspective. This is what led to the creation of her first collection. Nathalie is a traveler at heart, mind, body and soul.
Here is her diary
Month August – which is considered low/rain season but we got really lucky with bright blue skies. Though it was very hot and humid.
Stayed at The Belle Rive Boutique Hotel
The hotel was just along the Mekong river, and was one of the most charming boutique hotels in Luang Prabang. We stayed in a Mango Suite, with a terrace overlooking the Mekong River. They also had bicycles at our disposal, which was the best way to discover the city.
In your suitcase
I was carrying my Maruca leather bag, which to me was the perfect size. It’s such a practical bag, with pockets everywhere and a long strap that it hangs cross-body perfectly. I mostly wore my black Toms and a long Helmut Lang skirt with a sleeveless Helmut Lang top and a scarf I bought in Cambodia to cover my shoulders anytime we were around temples. I also wore a long caftan that I bought at the Artisanat du Liban. Since Luang Prabang is a very religious city, it was important to remain respectful and not walk around with very skimpy clothing.
What was fascinating is that all Lao women wear the sinh, a beautiful traditional woven and embroidered tube skirt made of silk which I ended up wearing our second night in Luang Prabang.
Blue Lagoon restaurant. They offered some delicious Lao delicacies as well as other Asian fusion options.
We only bought handmade artifacts from the night market and a few beautiful silver jewelry pieces made by the monks.
Luang Prabang in Laos is a UNESCO protected city thanks to its exceptional cultural, historic and architectural values and its harmonious relationship between the natural and built environment. It is a beautiful fusion between traditional architecture and Lao urban structures constructed by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Walking around Luang Prabang, it is common to rub shoulders with countless tangerine-robed monks, fall in love with this incredibly charming city, and spend a full day walking around the artisan shops, or biking along the Mekong river.
We spent 2 days in Luang Prabang after a hectic month long schedule in South East Asia. The picturesque and charming city offered us the perfect and relaxing end to our trip.
It is important to note that Luang Prabang imposes a curfew, everyone must be back at the places they are registered to sleep at midnight. (We also got a set of unusual rules and regulations to abide by.) So the city pretty much shuts down at that time, with the exception of a few rebellious bars. In light of that, it is usually best to wake up early, around 5AM, to watch the monk’s morning procession to collect alms from the local villagers. Every day at dawn, hundreds of orange robed monks file through the center of town collecting rice for their daily meal. After that we took out bikes and went on to explore the city, discovering the artisan shops where you can find hand-made treasures by the monks, biking out to the more rural areas through the unimaginable and truly inspiring natural landscapes to where the Laotians actually live, spent some time with the locals and kids trying to communicate through sign language and drawing, stopping every few hours at one of many enchanting cafes of the city. We also happened to pass by an elephant farm and decided to stop by for a ride.
At night, we had some Lao cuisine, and spent the night walking through the night market that the locals set-up every evening. There were more than 300 handicraft vendors selling their hand-made products. The market showcases a variety of handicrafts made by local ethnic groups such as textiles, ceramics, antiques, paintings, coffee and tea, quilts, silver, bags and even rare spices, so needless to say you can easily spend 3 hours there and not even notice the time pass.
The next day, we were hungry for one more little adventure before ending our trip. So we took a tuk tuk to Kuang Si waterfalls, approximately 40 min away from town. We hiked up to the top to where the waterfall starts, swam in the freezing water and pulled a few Tarzan and Jane moves. The views of the countryside and the natural landscape on the way there felt like they belonged in a national geographic magazine. Just incredible!
There are also lots of temples to visit and museums but at this point we were all temple-d out after Thailand and Cambodia.
Tips The Laotians were amongst the friendliest and warmest people we met in South-East Asia. But it is important to note that religion plays a big role in their culture, so bear in mind to dress respectfully and not show off too much skin.
Mode of travel Flew Qatar Airways to Bangkok then internal flights all through S.E Asia