After four days in Luang Prabang, I’m heading back to Hanoi. With a half-day layover in Vientiane I’ve managed to find a cybercafe that lets me hook up my laptop to their high-speed connection, giving me a chance to upload photos. Check out my Flickr feed for a selection of highlights… and for future photos of Vietnam as I take them.
Luang Prabang is the ancient Lao capital from which the royal family ruled before Laos became Communist. While the regime can be nasty, buddhism and capitalism are more widely apparent than communism in Luang Prabang, anyway.
Many young boys are sent by less affluent families to live as buddhist
monks – it’s a great way for them to get square meals and an education, and it’s
not expected that young men will remain monks for life, apparently. Every
morning at dawn the monks parade along the city streets
collecting alms (food donations) for the day.
These kids are keeping up with the 21st century, though. A couple of teenaged monks in flowing orange robes sat down next to me in a Luang Prabang cybercafe as I was checking e-mail. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me, but my friend Jessica Smith did when some sat next to her.
Jessica, her friend Rick and I stayed in a beautiful little hotel called the Apsara, run by an Englishman. I highly recommend it.
Our visit happened to coincide with the Lao New Year. Celebrations involve parades in which everybody on the street gets splashed with water – and many people get flour and coal smeared on them as well. It’s a huge street party.
This guy on the left had spent a long time living and working in San Diego. His family now owns a fish restaurant along the Mekong river and makes decent money. He carries photos of his girlfriend and of The Buddha around his neck in a flash memory stick. Cool idea.