November 9, 2008

A Glimpse of Luang Prabang, Laos

-A monk shielding himself from the hot mid-day sun.-

Up until recently, Luang Prabang and for that matter, all of Laos was an extremely secluded country. Land locked and poverty stricken, not many people ventured in and virtually no one ventured out. It was not that long ago that their waterways (mainly the Mekong) were their only mode of transportation. Yet, everyday it is becoming more and more open to the outside world, for better or for worse.

We found Luang Prabang, Laos' second largest city, to be a quiet, somewhat sleepy town. From before sunrise until late into the night, the residents go about their business, often stopping to chat in the streets and smile at the children playing in the trees. No one is in a hurry, everyone exuding a laid-back welcoming feel. And, a glimpse down any street at any given time will afford the sight of myriads of brightly robed monks (much to our picture taking delight).

-Main street. A laid-back menagerie of glowing shops.-

At night, the streets were aglow with delicious French/Laotian inspired cafes. Once a colony of France, it's still easy to make our their occupation in a few elements of the ancient city, the architecture and the food in particular. And, it was because of the French that the bakery's were so divine.

-The local menu.-

-The local food was great. The cooking methods... questionable.-

-A wonderfully friendly lady selling paintings at the night market.-

The night market was also a sight for sore eyes. While traveling Asia, people quickly learn that all markets, in all countries hawk the same 'cultural' relics. Laos was the one exception. Every stall boasted seeming handmade items, each differing from the next and each unique to Laos.

-We spent most of our days strolling the streets discovering the splendors of this ancient jungle town.-

-Local sculptor.-

As you stroll the streets , it is not uncommon to stumble upon local artisans. This man, like many others that we stopped to admire, was extremely skilled with his hands. We enjoyed watching him whittle and craft his sculptures.

-Buddhism is the main religion in Laos. And as such, you see a lot of these guys around.-

-A kind lady sewing skirts for the evening market.-

-A breathtaking sunset as seen from the temple on the peak of the mountain in the center of downtown.-

No comments: