Our trip to Laos started in a surreal way. After landing and checking, in we went to town looking for a good meal. We walked down the main road, with low-slung french-influenced buildings on either side and very little road noise. You can hear drumming coming from the temples: the monks drum for sunset. There are 33 temples in Luang Prabang, and as you walk down the Main Street, you see about 5 of them. It was fascinating to hear this drumming and to view the monks.
We enjoyed crepes at the night market with fresh fruit smoothies. The night market was very well organized with lights and two clear walk ways among the retailers.
This market is very different from the others in Southeast Asia: the locals let you browse without actively trying to sell you an item. We found it very relaxing to shop and walk around.
The next day, we woke and went to the most famous temple in Luang Prabang- Wat Xiang Thong.
The main part of this complex is the ordination hall which was opened in 1560. It is decorated with a famous image of the tree of life.
The mosaics on the temple looked different then other places in Southeast Asia as they had more prominent negative space in them. This temple is also noteworthy for having a reclining Buddha statue (rare in Laos) as well as the ceremonial carriage to carry Laos royal funeral urns.
While we were here we put a flower and incense offering for Buddha to ask for the health of our loved ones at home.
Walking around town we ate lunch and strolled down the banks of the Mekong River. The river is very large here and quite wide. We enjoyed watching the boats cross the river against the string current.
On our third day, we started by seeing The National Museum of Laos and the Royal Palace. Laos was part of Indochina and ruled by the French until 1954, when it gained its independence. At its independence, it was a monarchy and the palace was in use by the royal family. Currently, Laos is a communist country and has been since 1975. The Royal Palace now is home of the national museum. It exhibits what the rooms look liked when in use, gifts received by the royal family and royal family photos. There are no photos from the museum and palace as we were not allowed to take any.
On the royal grounds there was a temple, Haw Pha Bang. This temple was built to be home of Laos most sacred image of Buddha. Now the image is in the national museum.
We climbed to the top of Mount Phousi in the middle of the city. It is 150 meters high with some 350 steps and great views from the top. There are two sets of steps and numerous temples on the hill.
Bodhi Tree halfway up, a gift from India:
Wat Chomsi is at the very top of the hill. It was built in 1804. There were a few monks on the top of the hill and other temples. It was 104 degrees outside, after climbing up we enjoyed fruit smoothies under the fan.
Luang Prabang is a beautiful and very relaxed city. It has a laid back, slower pace of life then the rest of Southeast Asia and we enjoyed our three days exploring it.