It was a crisp, clear evening, not a cloud in the night sky. And while the boats, covered in candles, sparkled down the Mekong river, hundreds of paper lanterns were released into the sky.
Foreigners and locals alike participated in the tradition of Bun Awk Phansa…
A few days earlier, we had flown into Luang Prabang just after 6 pm to find the entire airport shut down. Luckily, the guesthouse we were staying at – Manichan Guesthouse – had a pickup service. We saw the sign with “Ashley Tangerine” and heaved a sigh of relief.
After dropping our stuff in our room for the next four nights, we decided to venture out and get our bearings. We wanted to check out the local handicraft night market and find something to eat! It worked out well that we had no money on us, otherwise I’m sure we would have purchased everything in sight. Instead, we made our way to our much beloved Joma Bakery – figuring we’d be more adventurous foodies on another night.
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The following day we decided to further our wanderings through the Buddhist temples and monasteries that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Luang Prabang. Our first stop was at the National Palace Museum (just a note, make sure to arrive early, they close 30 minutes before they say they do both in the morning and afternoon! It took multiple trips before we finally had time to see everything).
The temple outside the museum is pretty cool, and there’s a collection of vintage cars as well, but there’s not a lot worth seeing inside the museum itself. That is, until you get to the final room…it’s filled with gifts that have been given to Laos over the years and contains four moon rocks, given by President Nixon (it was shocking to see his name in a positive light, after seeing so much anti-American propaganda in Vietnam!).
Later on that day, we weaved in and out of temples – Wat May Souvannapoumaram, Wat Sensoukaram, and Wat Pahouak were some of our favourites – before coming to the most famous of them all: Wat Xieng Thong. Each village in the region has a temple in Luang Prabang, explaining why there are so many of them!