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”

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”

Sculpting Buddha – A Meditative Exercise in Laos

On a shady street on which we regularly strolled during our stay in Luang Prabang, Laos, we watched a sculptor as he gradually turned rustic concrete into the smooth likeness of Buddha. I wonder what the man pondered on those quiet afternoons — as he was overlooked by other Buddhist figures in progress — inContinue reading “Sculpting Buddha – A Meditative Exercise in Laos”

Photo du Jour: Golden Smiles in Luang Prabang, Laos

A pair of Buddha statues soak up golden-hour sunshine at Wat Xieng Thong. This shimmering and magnificent temple is located in the Laotian city of Luang Prabang. It dates back to the 16th century.

Photo Du Jour: Street Art For Sale in Luang Prabang

With vivid strokes and vibrant hues, artists depict Buddha, saffron-clad monks, and shimmering banyan trees on delicate paper. This artwork can be found in Luang Prabang’s night market, as well as at stands set up along the town’s brick sidewalks. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the paper as it’s being made, drying in theContinue reading “Photo Du Jour: Street Art For Sale in Luang Prabang”

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”