Notes from Luang Prabang

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Luang Prabang: the former Capitol city at the confluence of two rivers. A masterpiece of gardens, brick lined sidewalks, creative flavors, and storybook temples. For four days, we have wandered her labyrinth of streets and passageways with the wanderlust found only in Make Believe Land. A mere week in this city is purely wrong. Luang Prabang deserves a month, or longer. Come home, open the shutters, sit down with a good book and take it all in. This is a city that pulses inner reflection, yet tastefully invites sinfully long meals and a glass of ever-present imported wine (thanks again to the French influence). Luang Prabang can compare to nothing else. Put it at the top of your list now- get here before the Pixie Dust runs out.

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The air feels clean. Butterflies play tag during sunset, and there is a crispness to each day that only a modest altitude can deliver. We are higher up in the mountains, where the Nam Song River loses itself to the Meykong and dense green hills line up behind each other like oversized sand dunes. At night, the city is doused in mood lighting– candles, white lanterns, and twinkling silver tree lights dominate the promenade. It is romantically walkable at most anytime of day. After dark the crickets chirp and the frogs ribbit… and not once has a car engine or a disco bass beat ruined the auditory moment. I am at once downtown and far away. It is absolutely brilliant.

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Rainy season has not brought any respite from the pounding heat. We go out in the morning, siesta during mid day, and then go walking again in the evening when the rivers light up and the heat settles… I have developed an affection for a delicious beverage sold from a folding table just north corner of the national museum grounds. It involves a very full bag of ice, a cup of a floral tasting sweet tea, and the juice of at least one lime. Even in the heat of the day I’m tempted to walk the ten minutes uphill to get one. It is the only thing that tears me away from the shade of my balcony during midday.

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With that said, I would never discourage a fellow traveler away from low season. I had my concerns before arriving here- the reports on the internet about the horrid nature of monsoon season had me worried about spending time here. Naturally, having never been here during high season, I don’t have a comparison to make… But low season brings minimal crowds, more opportunity for low key tour opportunities and a vibe of serenity that only sedatives have delivered previously. I believe it may be the best time to visit. You’ll never miss the crowds, and a few warm rainy days feel a world away from the cold wet weather we Americans are all too familiar with.

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