Lao People's Democratic Republic

A young Monk lights the candles at Wat Mai in Luang Prabang

LUANG PRABANG

Luang Prabang is located in Northern Laos at the heart of a mountainous region. The town is built on a peninsula formed by the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. Mountain ranges (in particular the PhouThao and PhouNang mountains) encircle the city in lush greenery.

Many legends are associated with the creation of the city, including one that recounts that Buddha would have smiled when he rested there during his travels, prophesying that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful city. Known as Muang Sua, then Xieng Thong, from the 14th to the 16th century the town became the capital of the powerful kingdom of Lane Xang (Kingdom of a Million Elephants), whose wealth and influence were related to its strategic location on the Silk Route. The city was also the centre of Buddhism in the region. Luang Prabang takes its name from a statue of Buddha, the Prabang, offered by Cambodia.

After the establishment of the French Protectorate in 1893, following a period of turmoil during which the country was divided into three independent kingdoms, Luang Prabang once again became the royal and religious capital during the reign of King Sisavang Vong. It played this role until Vientiane became the administrative capital in 1946.

Luang Prabang is exceptional for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. Its remarkably well-preserved townscape reflects the alliance of these two distinct cultural traditions.

Sunset over the Mekong River, Luang Prabang.
A beautiful sleepy little town.
Wat Xieng Thong The richness of Luang Prabang architecture reflects the mix of styles and materials. The majority of the buildings are, following tradition, wooden structures. Only the temples are in stone, whereas one- or two-storey brick houses characterize the colonial element of the town. The many pagodas or "Vat" in Luang Prabang, which are among the most sophisticated Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia, are richly decorated (sculptures, engravings, paintings, gilding and furniture pieces). Wat Xieng Thong, which dates from the 16th century, comprises an ensemble of the most complex structures of all the pagodas of the town.
The Tak Bat, or the Buddhist Monks' morning collection of food in Luang Prabang. The practice of offering food to monks is most visible in Theravada Buddhist countries like Laos and Thailand, where the practice sustains large Monastic communities. "The Monks leave the monasteries early in the morning. They walk single file, oldest first, carrying their alms bowls in front of them. Laypeople wait for them, sometimes kneeling, and place food, flowers or incense sticks in the bowls. Each Monk carries a large lidded bowl, which is attached to a strap hanging from the monk's shoulder. As Monks file past the line of almsgivers - who are usually sitting or kneeling on the street - these containers are reverently filled with handfuls of sticky rice or bananas.The best rice for the Tak Bat ritual is prepared by the almsgivers themselves. The locals wake up early to prepare a batch of sticky rice, which they then scoop generously into each monk's bowl as the line files past.The ritual is done in silence; the almsgivers do not speak, nor do the monks. The monks walk in meditation, and the almsgivers reciprocate with respect by not disturbing the monk's meditative peace. For hundreds of years, the ritual has cemented the symbiotic relationship between the monks and the almsgivers who maintain them - by feeding the Monks and helping the laypeople make merit, tak bat supports both the Monks (who need the food) and the almsgivers (who need spiritual redemption).
Offerings for the Temple
A family attends the Temple.
Shopping at the night market.
Luang Prabang, 5.30am. Waiting for the Monks.
A line of Monks, as far as the eye can see.
LAAP Laap... (also spelled lahp, larb, lab) – a spicy meat or fish salad, one of Laos most famous dishes. Traditionally the meat or fish in laap is served raw and the dish sports entrails, slithers of lung, kidney or liver and a dash of pungent fermented fish paste called pradek. The ingredients for laap as are varied as the spelling of its name and vary in different regions of the country. The constants are lots of herbs, particularly coriander and mint, finely sliced shallots, and chilli. I love lots of lime juice on mine and cooked of course......
Fancy a snack? An Insect skewer, easy to eat while you are walking...
This is 3 Nagas, one of many beautiful restaurants in town. Many of the restaurants are french inspired, a legacy from the colonial days.
Happy hour at 3 Nagas. Tom Yum Luang Prabang......Vodka, Malibu, Lychee Liqueur, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaf & Chilli...Very tasty.
Laos Whisky (made from Rice Wine) at My favourite restaurant in Luang Prabang. Bamboo Tree on SoukKaserm rd along by the Nam Khan river...

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