Ahhh … Luang Prabang!

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A vegetable vendor on an early morning walk to the market. I love these women. My heart aches when I see them carry huge baskets that looked heavier than them. I am sure what they do is all for the love of their family.

The maiden issue was never meant to shock and awe. Having thousands of inspired kindred spirits on board is more than enough.

A very tall order for my 5’3” frame so I need more inches, I guess, to achieve the feat. But let me try. I am good at it.

After planning and scheming and dreaming for months, here we are going on a journey (I love this word)…and bracing up for a rough but fun ride exploring the world around us. Let Istoryya.com take you around Luang Prabang!

By an unbiased vote of one, I am taking on Luang Prabang in your computers. World travelers would have no problem locating it in the map – like a small red dot in the midst of one dark space.

When you think of Laos, you think of Luang Prabang. The name itself conjures something beyond special. Luang means great or royal and Pha Bang is a celebrated Buddha image given as a gift by the Khmer monarchy (from Lonely Planet). Its radar has gotten even stronger lately.

An overnight sleeper bus and 45-minute plane-ride from Bangkok and voila! You are right there on its cobbled-stones streets. The prestigious tag as a UN Heritage Site granted in 1995 has added more to its prominence. Let’s take  a brief guided tour.

A painter’s paradise. It is tough to describe a place whose beauty goes beyond skin-deep. Those crumbling brick and stucco buildings built by the French are a romantic’s refuge. Even if you aren’t one, there are a million reasons you can love the place at your own terms.  Rustic and mysterious without being scary.

Colors everywhere – from the silver trinkets to the hand-woven cotton and shimmering silk cloths to walking monks at 6am alms-giving to aging temples. Ohh … endless list to fill an artistic longing.

Luang Prabang town brightens up at night. I cannot exactly describe why the place is different. Simple yet not so common. So warm you can easily feel at home. Walking around town is like walking back in time without really leaving your own.

It is rather amusing to watch tourists at a distance busily taking pictures while missing the entire view. Well, people back home need to see what we saw, right? But it can also be like being in a feast and not really eating. I guess there is more to travel than just being there – but that really and wholly depends on your agenda.

An enchanting old wat (temple) on the left and the National Museum on the right.

I am always – eternally – in a hurry when on trips. There is almost a sense of being there but not really present. Inside museums and markets and an old antique shop, reports and emails and deadline lurk and invade. For few crucial minutes, sometimes on half-time, the deed is done.

I saw Luang Prabang on fragments – maybe in tiny pieces and not really as a whole. So, I am bound to go back, and hopefully this time, joining jaded tourists in full concentration.

Luang Prabang in one word? Is there one? Timeless, perhaps. No other word fits exactly. It crosses boundaries of development rather languidly. Serenely. In its own terms. It may be small and almost a dot. A town you explore on foot in a day, in between cafe lunches and tea breaks, but independent enough to hold on to its own uniqueness and simplicity.

We often look at big things for big impact. But what is ironic is, small things can also have the same effect – depending on how we see things. Lao artisans spend countless hours on intricate work that baffles the mind. But it is like working on life itself – not taking the minute details for granted.


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