Luang Prabang: Saffron robes and water guns

There are few things to complain about in Luang Prabang.  A charming little city at the confluence of the Mekong and the Nam Ou rivers, it has grown accustomed to travelers since colonial times and rewards its visitors with French bakeries and beautifully aged temples (unfortunately, temple architecture in this part of the world is often over-restored, leaving no traces of the past).  We quickly fell for the sticky rice, the curries and chili pastes, the cold beef salads (lahp), and the river fish.  And all of the spicy meals we ate were lubricated with Lao’s most famous export: Beer Lao.  For under a dollar a large bottle, we never tired of the tasty lager; a much better alternative to Indian or Thai beer, especially after we had gotten used to draining the glycerin from Indian bottles before pouring, realizing that the preservative syrup not only tastes like river slime but depending on the batch can leave you with a lasting headache.  April in Laos is a languid time.  The heat is only multiplied by the humidity and the air is scorched from slash and burn agriculture around the hills.  It is also a period of the year when it is difficult to stay dry.  Besides the sweaty membrane covering every inch of your body, April is when the Thai/Lao new year is celebrated, bringing forth an onslaught of water wars, pitting tourists, locals, pedestrians, bicyclists, children, civil servants, merchants, essentially everybody who braves the street against each other.  Gangs on pick-up trucks with buckets of ice water momentarily paralyze the unprepared stiff on the sidewalk.  Super-soakers, hoses, balloons, ladles, and all forms of improvised containers become the city’s motley arsenal.  Although hard to make out in the haze, the country around Luang Prabang is a patchwork of verdant fields and even denser forests.  It’s easy to imagine tigers about.

Wat Nong


temple porch

widow to a temple dormitory

widow to a temple dormitory

widow to a temple dormitory

dried mushrooms?

beans and rice

grubs, banana leaves, and wild herbs

charred possum and unidentified bird, honey and honey comb, peanuts, and wild broccoli

ox ends

river fish with glaucoma


Souksan Vanh Pee Mai‘: Happy Lao New Year!

water, beer, sweat

After several attempts from the edge of the enclosure, Vivi finally roused the sleeping tiger.  It looked back towards us superciliously and yawned, making sure to show us every canine, incisor, premolar, and molar, just in case we had forgotten who was in charge.

neaby falls

about to escape the heat





Luang Prabang from Wat Phousi

Wat Xieng Thong

down from Wat Phousi

around Wat Phousi


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