Luang Prabang- Town & Monks

I'm falling a bit behind here- being on my own is great, but I am not giving myself too much downtime, so I'm gonna try to move from a day-by-day type blog, to more of random thoughts by destination... We'll see if it works as well.

So- Luang Prabang is everything everyone says, and possibly the perfect little dream of a Southeast-Asian city. The French influence is still strong, as seen in the architecture, food, and even heard on the streets, by more than just tourists. There are a lot of wats, a TON really, and I still do need a lesson on what makes them different and/or special. But, somehow they just added to the charm of the city. It probably helped that my guesthouse was on the sleepier side of town, and there's so much besides the Wats to do (more on that in the next post). Or maybe it's just that the people are just so nice. The Thai are sweet too, but the Lao are just super chill- a smile & "no thank you" makes them back right off, even in the markets. So the night market was cool, and nice to see a little different stuff, though its all similar to what they were selling throughout Thailand too. I rented a cute little pink bike my last morning & rode around with G&V, which just increased my enchantment with this place. The dogs even seems cuter, better fed, and less flea-bitten. Plus, you have rivers on both sides of the town, so almost anywhere you go has a lovely water scene. I mostly ate along the Mekong (too pretty), but one night I splurged at one of the fancy euro places near the night market. Shrimp ravioli with lemongrass sauce- yummy!

The other big thing in LP is the alms processional that the monks do each morning. It seems your experience of this ritual changes drastically depending on where you catch it. Like I said, I was on the sleepier side of town, so when I made my way out to the Main Street around 6:20am, there really wasn't anyone around. This actually stressed me out b/c I wasn't sure where to be & what to do. Luckily, as the monks emerged down the street in the murky dawn, a Lao lady provided an example to follow, so I knelt down & handed out the few bananas I'd bought earlier. As soon as I was done, I jumped out of the way across the street, and begun snapping away. I could tell there were massive crowds about a block away in both directions (which Gregg & Val reported down where they were), but luckily my little corner stayed mostly quiet. It was crazy to see people walk/run up in front of the next group to try to get a good photo. Note- they walk really fast & specifically keep their heads down (for the most part), so, most people should get the picture to back off, but some just don't. It was interesting to watch the monks though, because each time the went by a group giving them offers, the would quickly check their buckets and occasionally toss something into a basket or box strewn along the route. As the processional was over, street children were running along to collect all of these extras. I never found out if the monks weren't allowed certain things, or it was just a matter of taste/room, or if it was some strange symbiotic understanding between them all... Anyway, idiot that I am, as I walked back the block to my guesthouse, I realized they walked directly in front of it, so there was no need to get up all early. Oops. It seemed a bit more crowded there, however, so who knows. Sorry, there are still a ton of pics, even though I tried to only include the best ones.

All in all, several fab days in one adorable place. I'll get to my time on the Mekong & a visit to some caves, and the most adorable & fake looking waterfalls I've ever seen as soon as I can!