Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Luang Prabang

One of the many Wats or Buddhist temples in Luang Prabang
Our boat journey down the Mekong River terminated in Luang Prabang, a small city in northern Laos. Once the country's royal capital, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site rich with architectural, cultural and religious significance.

Setting off from our guesthouse to see the sites
It was Chinese New Year when we arrived and though the city is a maze of guesthouses, we had difficulty finding accommodations. Despite this being a tourist mecca there wasn't the typical hyper-activity of other Asian cities we had visited; there was leafy tranquility about the streets that was very attractive to me.

Monks receive alms each morning from both locals and visitors
Buddhism plays a large role in Laosian life. Many boys become monks at an early age and the wat, or temple, is at the centre of community life.

Old bombs decorate the courtyard of the UXO Lao Information Centre
Laos has a big problem of un-exploded ordinance (UXO), old bombs and land mines littering the countryside. Every year more people are killed or injured by this menace but at the current rate, it will take many more decades to clear them all away.

The travertine pools of Kuang Si
One of the most beautiful places that I visited was the Kuang Si waterfall, just outside Luang Prabang. Over time the calcium in the water has created a series of terraced pools that are a delight to swim in. It's a popular destination, so if you go, go early!

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