Saturday, January 21, 2006

Luang Prabang

Welcome back. This is the second posting of our holiday in Laos and is episode 2 of 4. Next will be Chiang Mai and then the final episode will be some photos of people.

Luang Prabang has red-brick lined streets and narrow lanes with wide steps, the traffic is mostly scooters and bicycles and hotel vans and little taxi cars. Many beautiful temples are scattered everywhere, and every morning at 6 one can hear the temple drums calling the monks to their first prayer.

We arrived in Luang Prabang on a misty morning, the smell of wood smoke was hanging in the air, as most houses have wood burning stoves.


.















Lunch time and the usually quiet streets
become even quieter.


















Daniela in fromt of one of the many temples



















The UNESCO headquarters and the Museum



















Monks gathering at a beautiful temple



















We were quite moved by the daily tradition
of the “alms giving ceremony” and got up
before sunrise one day to witness it.


















The monks, from age 14 to 99, barefoot,
dressed in their saffron robes and each
carrying their alms bowl, quietly queue up
past people kneeling along the pavements of
the main street, all eager to offer fruit and
handfuls of cooked rice, one to each monk.
The procession moves quite fast and is
punctuated by the flashes of the tourists’
cameras.



















You can see a golden temple above the trees
in the middle of the photo



















It's this one. A high rocky outcrop in the
middle of the city overlooks the magical
landscape, and an ancient temple with
a golden spire crowns the top of this hill,
the Phu Si.



















Near the temple the rusty remains of an
anti-aircraft gun remind the visitor that this
country was being “quietly” bombarded for
years by the Americans, during the Vietnam
war. The gun is, ironically, a very popular toy
for the children who ride it and jump off it
with much mirth!



















Every morning the street along the Mekong
becomes a fruit and vegetable market, bustling
with life and the most unusual goods. People
seem to indulge in delicacies such as bullfrogs
and moles and snakes and bats, needless to
say we did not (knowingly…) partake
of such local specialities! However we really
enjoyed some of their more “normal” ones,
such as the salads with thin slices of beef of
chicken and vegetables, full of fresh herbs
and very fragrant, or the fresh spring rolls
filled with delicious vegetables and prawns.
























We made a trip along a bumpy dirt
road to go visit some beautiful
waterfalls and on the way back
we had the unplanned added
excitement of the minivan
breaking down in the middle
of nowhere, at dusk…. Luckily
someone sent for help and another
minivan came from Luang Prabang
to pick us up, so no harm done!


















Luang Prabang is located at the confluence of
the Nahm Khan and the Mekong rivers and
luxurious orchards cover the banks that are
not inhabited.


















We also did a river crossing on one of their
boats to see some temples on the opposite
bank, at sunset. The scenery was gorgeous
and we boarded the boat again among people
who were washing their clothes and a monk
doing his ablutions!


















We fell in love with Luang Prabang.

Next time Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Love

Alan

1 comment:

Phil harris said...

Alan

Phil Harris here

In Tokyo these days. Sharon gave me your address. "Did" Luang Prabang last Christmas (2004/5). Fucking brilliant. Hope you haven't ruined it. Could retire there.

Ironically, we were in Fiji this Christmas/New Year, somewhere I always associate with you.

Wonderful part of the world. Send us a message

Phil