Luang Prabang from Phu Si
Exploring Luang Prabang with Bill and Bessie Too
Luang Prabang, Lao PDR
13 January 2003
The days have been just packed with a palace, temples, caves, and waterfalls in and around this palm-shaded little town! Yes, I've enjoyed Luang Prabang very much. It's really a group of villages, each named for a local temple. And there are lots of temples, all decorated inside and out with beautiful artistry. I also walked through the Royal Palace Museum, a plain double cruciform building on the outside, but filled with royal and religious art inside. The most famous Buddha statue, the Pha Bang, stands in the palace shrine room. The Khmer Empire presented the gold-silver-bronze-alloy image to King Fa Ngum in 1359 as a confirmation of Lao sovereignty. The capital later changed its name in honor of this statueLuang Prabang is "Great (or Royal) Pha Bang." Out back rest four of the royal cars, including the one used exclusively by the king and queena big old Edsel!
Yesterday I cycled southwest 32 km to Kuang Si Waterfall, a beautiful spot in forested foothills. Twin falls cascade into travertine pools filled with turquoise-colored water. I hiked up one side of the falls, waded across pools at the top, then descended on the other side. A walk downstream passed many more travertine pools with water pouring over their rims.
Film has been flying through my camera in the five days here, so I'll be posting plenty on my website when we return to the USA next month! Today I leave for Pak Mong, a road junction north of here. It's a 117-km ridehope I make it!
The Royal Palace from Phu Si
Detail of the Royal Palace, built in 1904 during the early French colonial period
A traditional Lao orchestra
That's real gold! Workmen had just applied gold leaf to this wood-carved door of the Haw Pha Bang, a temple on the grounds of the Royal Palace; when construction is complete, the Pha Bang statue will be moved inside.
water lily at the Royal Palace
Luang Prabang waterfront. You can see the stupa atop Phu Si hill on the left,
red temple roofs, and the gold spire of the Royal Palace in the middle right.
Thanon Sisavangvong, Luang Prabang's main street.
A Tree of Life mosaic adorns the back of the temple at Wat Xieng Thong.
Beating the big drum at Wat Xieng Thong
Buddha giving protection, Wat Wisunalat
Painting inside 18th-century Wat Long Khun, located across the Mekong from Luang Prabang.
Yes, this guy is in serious trouble!
The painting illustrates the human tendency to blindly follow cravings without regard to the dangers involved. Rodents gnawing the branch symbolize the certainty of death and the futility of devoting one's life to short-lived pleasures.
Detail of a door to Wat Pha Mahathat
Cultural show at Villa Sinxay;
Family and friends of this restaurant put on a good performance.
The many-tiered Tat Kuang Si Waterfall
The underside of a giant leaf
Travertine pools just above Tat Kuang Si Waterfall
Pak Ou Caves.
The white staircase leads into the large, Buddha-filled chamber of the lower cave.
On the way back from Pak Ou, our boat stopped at a crafts village.
Can you guess what they are making here?
day's end at Luang Prabang
On to Northern Laos and the End of the Ride