January 3: A day to explore Luang Prabang, the former capitol of Laos. The whole town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Click the photos to enlarge them.
From our hotel's breakfast area overlooking the Nam Khan River, we looked down on a little farm and a spindly wooden bridge to the other side of the river. We're told that this bridge, and others like it, regularly are washed away in the rainy season floods and have to be rebuilt.
Laos is a rather mountainous country, and Luang Prabang is in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong (Nam Khong) and Nam Khan rivers. The water level gets much higher in the rainy season.
There are supposedly 33 Buddhist temples (Wats) in Luang Prabang, and Wat Xieng Thong, right near our hotel, is the star - at least aesthetically. Its many fine Buddha statues, wonderful carved doorways, richly painted surfaces, and charming glass mosaic folk art make it the most enjoyable we've visited so far on this trip. The next seven photos are from Wat Xieng Thong.
This vivid gem is a moderate-size Buddha in a small side chapel.
Carving to rival that on the doors of Renaissance churches
The glass mosaics in folk art style were the most surprising and delightful of all.
Many more statues, in various styles and poses, along the walls in the Funeral Chariot Hall that holds the ashes of old Laotian kings.
At lunch we had a good view of young monks in their colorful robes walking by on the street. Since hats are forbidden, umbrellas are used to shield from the sun.
I particularly like the colors in this photo with the yellow umbrella.
The colors were also vivid in this outdoor restaurant overlooking the river.
It's called "The Great Tree". It's certainly unusual.
After dinner we walked through the Night Bazaar and then back along the main street. This shopkeeper was relaxing with his family at the end of a long day.