Luang Prabang is like a city adrift in space and time. The main roads are lined with French restaurants, cafes and bakeries in colonial era buildings: brightly painted villas with wooden shutters on the windows. Just behind them are a warren of packed-earth side streets. Here, there are wooden houses on stilts, many with the Laos and communist party flags hanging outside. Women cook food without electricity on coal stoves and chickens peck around in the yards.