Longing For Laos in Luang Prabang

By Mark Wiens 11 Comments

Luang Prabang, Laos

The People’s Democratic Republic of Laos had already impressed me.  The sense of community, the warmness of the people, and the loyalty.  I could observe friends and family members alike helping each other out, caring for each other,  and socializing everywhere.  It seemed to me that the people of Laos really took time to enjoy small and simple things in life like relaxing under a crimson sunset, or watching the consistent calm flow of the Mekong River go by.

I arrived in Luang Prabang early one morning to a magnificent sunrise that revealed an unblemished environment of French colonial buildings, intricate Buddhist temples, and cobble brick streets.  The mist rose over the mighty Mekong as the morning sunshine soon became piercing.  No one ghost rides tuk tuk’s (Bangkok), and they are some of the calmest and most patient tuk tuk’s I have seen in Asia.  As we drove around kids pedaled past on bmx bicycles to get to school.

With tourism becoming ever so popular in Luang Prabang there are numerous tour agencies and loads of guest houses to choose from.  The tour agencies offer all kinds of elephant, trek, and boat adventures.  With limited time and very limited funds I choose to mostly relax, play a few games with rocks, and try to enjoy simple life as I had observed.

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Evenings are the most impressive in Luang Prabang.  As the sun’s penetration dies down locals begin to flock to the small brick roads.  Until the last moment of the sunlight, kids run around tagging each other, Mothers chat with fellow Mothers, Grandpas pose on steps with legs crossed, and Fathers paddle boats to the dock for night.  Everyone seems so satisfied and grateful for the company of others around them.

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About this time a massive and quite interesting Luang Prabang handicraft market emerges on the main street of the town.  This market sells a diverse range of traditional to modern Laos inspired crafts.

“Eating Erudite,” and getting dirty in Dampa, being in my personal job description, would not allow me to pass the opportunity to go somewhat insane at the local night food market.  Every evening on a street perpendicular to the main street, vendors, grillers, foodies, survivors, and scavengers alike, gather for an astounding display of Laos culinary masterpieces.  I quickly lost all sanity I once possessed in an effort to get an overall sample of the everlasting buffet.  Gourmet.com rates the Luang Prabang night market in the list of top 8 Asian spots to eat.  This street is truly a priceless diamond in terms of Laos cuisine.

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Still mesmerized by the wonderful town of Luang Prabang, it was time to move on to boat the mighty Mekong River.



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