Vientiane

Mandy at Pha That Luang

Mandy at Pha That Luang

Next up: Vientiane, the capital of Laos.  Although it’s the largest city in Laos, the population is just under 750,000.  The pace is relaxed and unhurried.

Our first stop was Pha That Luang, the national symbol of Laos.  An impressive Buddhist stupa emblazoned with gold leaf, Pha That Luang was initially constructed in 300 AD and contains sacred relics, including the breastbone of Buddha.  At the entrance, Mandy borrowed a long skirt to cover her legs.  Inside, we slowly explored the complex, staying out of the way of worshippers processing around the inner courtyard. Continue reading

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Humid. Hot. Heat.

The lower falls, Kuang Si Falls

The lower falls, Kuang Si Falls

The SE Asian heat hits hard.  It was the beginning of a stretch of weeks where every day reached at least ninety degrees fahrenheit, but it felt even hotter.  The steaminess factor, aka humidity, and the intense near-equatorial sun, can be brutal. Continue reading

The “S” is Silent

Tak Bat, the morning alms ceremony in Luang Prabang, Laos

Tak Bat, the morning alms ceremony in Luang Prabang, Laos

We descended through a thick layer of fog into the Luang Prabang Airport, which was basically a two room warehouse where planes can land.  We paid for our tourist visas at a desk and then caught a ride into town.  It was dusk, but the contrast between Luang Prabang and Hanoi couldn’t have been more apparent.  Traffic was nonexistent except for a few mopeds.  Stars twinkled and rays of lights shone out from behind shuttered windows.  The town was quiet and sleepy, just like us. Continue reading