Nagas, the Fire Serpents of the Mekong

Some Laotian and Thai people believe that serpent-like creatures (nagas) inhabit the chocolate-colored waters of the Mekong River. In Lao mythology, nagas protect Laos’ capital city, Vientiane, and beyond. These snake-like creatures also adorn many nooks and crannies of Laos’ jewel city, Luang Prabang. Some followers of Buddhism even attribute mysterious fireball-like projectiles to theContinue reading “Nagas, the Fire Serpents of the Mekong”

From Gong and Drum Awakening to Sunset at Luang Prabang’s Wat Wisunarat

Our home away from home in Luang Prabang, Laos sat opposite from the city’s oldest operating temple, Wat Wisunarat (also spelled Vat Visounnarath). The temple was built in the early 1500s. Known for its quiet lanes and thirty temples, Luang Prabang feels authentically Asian. Monks of all ages, clad in saffron-colored robes, pound the pavementContinue reading “From Gong and Drum Awakening to Sunset at Luang Prabang’s Wat Wisunarat”

Photo Du Jour: Quasi Cupid at Laos’ Buddha Park

It’s not your traditional Valentine’s Day imagery, yet these captures from our recent visit to Buddha Park — just outside of Vientiane, Laos — seemed so Cupid Day’esque.

A Morning Almsgiving or Tak Bat Ceremony in Phonsavan, Laos

In Laos, as in other countries that practice Theravada Buddhism, it is customary for monks to go on early morning alms runs, known as tak bat. They do so with alms-bowls in hand, donning their traditional saffron robes and pounding the pavement or dirt roads with bare feet. Devotees place food — such as balls ofContinue reading “A Morning Almsgiving or Tak Bat Ceremony in Phonsavan, Laos”

Photo du Jour: A Grassy Shrine and A Rainbow Tuktuk – Laos

A tuktuk sits on a hill overlooking grass-covered That Foun (also called That Chomsi). The brick stupa (Buddhist shrine) was built in 1576 in an ancient capital city, Xieng Khuang, in present-day Muang Khoun (northeastern Laos). In the 19th century, Chinese bandits tunnelled into the stupa’s interior, creating the entryway that is visible today. They spirited awayContinue reading “Photo du Jour: A Grassy Shrine and A Rainbow Tuktuk – Laos”

Twinkle, Twinkle Wat Xieng Thong – Luang Prabang, Laos

In the late afternoon sunlight, the small shrine’s mosaic-adorned walls shimmered like precious gems. As I shifted my footing and perspective — moving only mere inches at a time — different vignettes were illuminated by the vibrant rays. This Buddhist shrine, on which the cut glass portrays Buddhist imagery, is one of twenty structures inContinue reading “Twinkle, Twinkle Wat Xieng Thong – Luang Prabang, Laos”

A Return to Angkor: The Tree-Adorned Temple of Ta Prohm

Regarded as one of Angkor’s most atmospheric temples, Ta Prohm is perhaps best known as the location in which the movie Tomb Raider was filmed (admittedly, I have not seen it). The circa 12th century temple’s gnarly, towering trees are at times indistinguishable from the stone walls, pillars, and foundations that they are devouring. And the settingContinue reading “A Return to Angkor: The Tree-Adorned Temple of Ta Prohm”

An Afternoon at Angkor Wat

During my maiden (and solo) visit to Angkor Wat, I glimpsed the majestic Cambodian structure at sunrise. Seeing the inky sky gradually awaken over the site and then illuminate it with a shrimp-colored hue was a magical experience. But in the years since, I’d read that the sunrise experience had lost some of its luster,Continue reading “An Afternoon at Angkor Wat”