Eleg(ph)ant time in Luang Prabang, Laos

A small city tucked in northern central Laos, the city of Luang Prabang instantly gave off a European feel and romantically beautiful. In the mid 1990s, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site, a distinction that seeks to preserve cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

We took to the streets, enjoyed the cafes, hit the hiking trails, and stared at the amazing and natural beauty. We hiked atop Mount Phousi for a circular view of the entire city to witness an incredible sunset. Sunsets never get old; never.

Sunset behind the Mekong River

Sunset's glow on Brooke and the temple

And nor do sunrises. But this one was not for the sunrise, but to see the monks receiving the alms. From what we are told, monks eat once a day before noon, and each morning, a community member from each household sits along the road with some sort of giving. Many have bowls of rice, others had what seemed like granola bar. As the monks stroll by, persons give them what them a portion of what they have. It was peaceful and quiet, yet uncomfortable to see this practice, as we felt like gazing, intrusive tourists (and we unfortunately are).

Monks receiving the alms

Towards the end of our trip in Laos, we took a trek/tour to a elephant village and local tribal village. The Elephant Village works to save ex-logging elephants, freeing them of abusive work, and provide the local community with jobs. We observed the massive animals and took them for a walk. Brooke’s new calling might be a mahout–she was a dandy.  Pulling Brooke away from the work, we trekked about 2 hours to a remote village of 79 families (380 people) off the Nam Khan River.

Brooke's second calling

Our guide, Lor, provided us the details of village life, as he came from one that was about a 3 hour walk/boat ride to a bigger city. While he enjoyed his life in Luang Prabang, he would want to go back to his small village. Thatch huts, little electricity, community bathrooms, but a real sense of community lure them to stay.

Entrance to remote village

Unlike American culture, the man is responsible for the wedding celebration, costing him about 5-6 million kip (about $700-$800: that is many, many months of work.)–for this reason, amongst many others, the man better make the right decision, Lor stated.

Traveling back to camp via boat and then to Luang Prabang through gorgeous countryside, we could see the distinction of its classification. From its city life, to its architecture, to its landscape, Luang Prabang is a great value to humanity–keep this place untouched!

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