Monks and Elephants or...
Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
152Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
I'll get to the Murakami character later but for now I'll tell you about the monks, elephants... and great food. I took nearly 500 photos in 4 days so that should be some indication of how much I saw and did...and how much editing of this entry I'll need to do and leafing thru to select photos, which is always my most difficult task, because if it were up to me I'd include them all.
I'd heard about Luang Prabang from several people as the place to go for a quiet destination with lots to see. Prior to those conversations I'd never heard of Luang Prabang. So...on Thursday of last week I took the 1 hr flight to Laos and in particular Luan Prabang. It was the first time in a long time I'd gotten on a plane with propellers but it was a smooth quick flight to the city that is a Unesco World Heritage city
I considered writing this entry in two entries with spending alot of time on the Buddhism angle on one entry and then the elephant sanctuary/village for another entry but I think I can do it justice enough in just one entry.
Well here goes...my first and last day I spent exploring the numerous Wats and Stupas located in many cases, 2 to a block. The size ranged from a quarter block of ground to easily 4+ blocks. That doesn't even account for the Wat Chom Si which has its own hillsides and mountaintop chock full of Buddha statues and other key figure icons in Buddhism
As some general info regarding Buddhist monasteries: the Buddhist monasteries generally consisted of: the main buildings (shrine, chapel, library, stupa, stone posts), secondary buildings and buildings for residents (monastic communal buildings, assembly room, etc.). Most are simple shrines with three aisles and a single porch. Their interior furnishings are made up of a pedestal or throne for the main Buddha image, a pulpit, a terrace and a lamp. Most are elaborately decorated with carved motifs but the wall paintings are relatively simple. So when you are looking thru the photos even though I might not mention it you will probably be able to differentiate a temple from a monastery based on this info.
It was also a city filled with flowers, so every small lane I walked up and down had flowers growing and often draped over walls and blooming like wildfire. There was such a vast array of colors, and varieties of flowers, some of which I didn't recognize as having ever seen before
There is a nightly street market that sold many types of traditional trinkets, teas and clothing. But my favorite part was the 1 or 2 small alleys that had food stands, side by side extending from one end of the alley to the other. It pretty much ran the length of a block with both sides blanketed in these stands of homemade foods. Most of the food stands were called "buffet" so they'd have about 25-30 serving plates and bowls of food for you to pick from and you could fill your plate as high as you could balance. Combine that with their BeerLao and I had quite a tasty and tummy filling meal, all for about $2. For lunch I generally had their local soup which is similar to Vietnamese pho.. During the day to keep cool and hydrated I savored the ice cold and freshly blended fruit smoothies made with just fruits - healthy and refreshing.
I have come to realize that I can't keep the words or the photos down to a manageable number in just one entry. So I must stop this entry now and start up the next one with the trek i went on into the countryside. The temples and city photos are quite numerous so I hope you have a huge mug of coffee to sip as you read through this and peruse the photos.
Part Two about the trek, elephants, mountain village and...the Murakami reference will be coming soon.