Laos: Legacies of War and a Promising Future

Riding through the countryside of Laos’ remote Xieng Khouang province, we spied verdant rolling hills, villagers of all ages escorting livestock on the dusty roadside, and giant craters disfiguring the landscape. For an instant, these cavities in the red earth evoked images of sand traps on golf courses. However, with Laos’ unfortunate distinction of being the world’s most bombed country per capita, notContinue reading “Laos: Legacies of War and a Promising Future”

An Afternoon at Laos’ Buddha Park

Marry Buddhism, Hinduism and a touch of quirkiness, and the result is Buddha Park – a sprawling green space studded with more than 200 concrete sculptures near the Laotian capital city of Vientiane. Hopping out of a minivan shared with French and Swiss travelers we’d met at Vientiane’s bus station, we expressed relief that weContinue reading “An Afternoon at Laos’ Buddha Park”

Photo du Jour: A Novice Monk in Luang Prabang, Laos

In the Southeast Asian nation of Laos, it’s common for boys and young men to temporarily commit to monkhood, even if they do not remain in service for the rest of their lives. This custom brings a merit to both the novice monks and their families. As the elder monks do, the boys shave their headsContinue reading “Photo du Jour: A Novice Monk in Luang Prabang, Laos”

The Ubiquitous Laotian Sinh, or Skirt

The Laos People’s Democratic Republic (P.D.R) is a joy to explore. It’s affectionately known as ‘Laos Please Don’t Rush‘ and when you get there, you see why – almost instantly. The locals  are easygoing and friendly, the environment is mellow, and the Laotian culture has retained enough authenticity that you’ll want to linger longer and appreciate itsContinue reading “The Ubiquitous Laotian Sinh, or Skirt”

A Monkey Tethered to a Bomb Shell in Rural Laos

Throughout Asia during these past few months, we had the opportunity to gleefully observe monkeys outside of customary zoo environments. Some monkeys gracefully walked on power lines as if they were tightrope artists; others stole human goodies from garbage cans at outdoor establishments. The luckiest ones lived in areas that blended a natural with anContinue reading “A Monkey Tethered to a Bomb Shell in Rural Laos”

Photo du Jour: Paper Cranes in Luang Prabang, Laos

A garland of pure white paper cranes hangs from a monks’ residential building within Luang Prabang’s picturesque Wat Xieng Thong temple complex.

Photo du Jour: ‘Monk Beds’ in Luang Prabang, Laos

In Buddhism, it’s believed that followers can get good results by giving merit. One approach is by offering alms, either through a Tak Bat ceremony or by donating items to those who are leading a monastic lifestyle. In Luang Prabang’s Wat Xieng Thong temple courtyard, we happened upon this recently-donated stash of goods. There was everything fromContinue reading “Photo du Jour: ‘Monk Beds’ in Luang Prabang, Laos”

Wat Xieng Thong: Waiting in the Wings During the Golden Hour

It’s the sort of environment that could hold my attention for hours. In a heavily carved and gilded structure that’s tucked away on the grounds of the Wat Xieng Thong temple complex in Luang Prabang, Laos, are stored a fleet of Buddha statues, crackling wooden devotional panels, nagas, and the Lao king’s cremation chariot. AdornedContinue reading “Wat Xieng Thong: Waiting in the Wings During the Golden Hour”