As we enter a new country, we begin as usual with the regional map, courtesy of Google, to get oriented.
Laos was our favorite country on this 5-country tour of Souteast Asia. It was the pleasant and kind nature of the people that we remember the most. We flew to Luang Prabang, in the mountainous north, to begin our exploration of this landlocked country and observe its traditional slow pace of life.
Every morning begins with the procession of Buddhist monks down the streets of town, holding out their bowls to accept offerings of rice and other foods. We sat along the curb with the townspeople to participate in this daily ritual. The monks will eat breakfast and a noon meal, after which they consume only liquids for the remainder of the day.
Open-air markets are a way of life here. Many people have no refrigeration and shop for food twice a day. Although their lifestyle is lacking in some modern conveniences, the country produces plenty of food and the average citizen is well fed.
Cooked food is also for sale in the markets, such as this local version of “fish sticks.”
A visit to a local village allowed us to see how the rural people live. We were treated to a lunch that included stir-fry.
What was being stir-fried? Silk work larvae, of course. You probably can’t find that on the menu of your local Asian restaurant back home!
An afternoon cruise along the Mekong River revealed classic scenes such as these water buffalo.
We stopped at the sacred Pak Ou Caves and hiked the steps up from the riverbank to see the thousands of Buddha icons filling the interior.
The lower cave has some natural lighting, but the upper cave was completely dark except for our flashlights and camera flash. It was an otherworldly and mystical experience.
After returning to town, a pleasant hike up to the top of Phousi Hill yielded a beautiful sunset reflecting off of the river, and made a great end to this day and to this post.
The next leg of our journey takes us to Vientiane, the charming capital city of Laos .