Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

End of Buddhist Lent and Loi Krathong in Luang Prabang – Part II

The need to finish up my posts about our recent trip to Luang Prabang is a poor disguise for a severe case of procrastination disorder but some priorities need to be rearranged in order to eventually get the truly  important stuff done sometimes. I can’t just leave the unfinished business of my first post hanging over my head and try to concentrate on my on-line coursework or Lao language homework or paying bills or planning birthday celebrations for all four of us (yes, ALL of our birthdays occur within three consecutive days of this month, the 15th, 16th, and 17th!). I love it when a trip was so good that you can’t stop thinking about it for a long time afterwards. Sharing it with all of you helps to process this excitement so thanks for tuning in. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to the other things after I’ve cleared my head of one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had.

Our next two days in Luang Prabang were spent exploring on foot, on a boat, and on bicycles – which is hands-down the best way to see the town. Each early morning we woke up to sounds of drumming and chanting coming from the nearby temple (as well as the kids’ coughs and whimpers in their sleep) and try to make our way through the hotel breakfast without disturbing the peace and calm too much given the kids’ kinetic morning bursts of energy. But rising early meant catching the cool morning air for exploring and heading off the crowds at the main sights.

One afternoon we heard the same drumming as in the morning and climbed up the stairs to Wat Mahathat to find monks drumming in this little pavilion.

Still game to explore at Wat Xieng Thong before stopping for a snack.

The kids were completely bored and hot as we wandered through Wat Xieng Thong, forcing us to quickly retreat to somewhere shady for a snack. Luckily, we headed down the temple’s steep staircase towards the Mekong River where a young man offered us a boat ride. How serendipitous! It had been a personal goal of mine for this trip to get the kids on a boat but I had neither the time or the wherewithal to prearrange it, yet there we were stepping in to a long-boat without batting one ounce of effort to make it happen. I was psyched. And what better place to snack than sitting comfortable and cool on a boat?

Waiting for our boat to back up to the stairs at Wat Xieng Thong.

O soaking up the river views with his polar bear pal.

Classic timeless scene on the Mekong.

The stairs from Wat Xieng Thong. Also the main site for launching the Loi Krathong festival floats and offerings on the night of the 11th full moon.

The main town center of Luang Prabang is an isthmus flanked on one side by the mighty Mekong and another by a smaller river that snakes it’s way down from the mountains to join the Mekong at the isthmus’ tip. The smaller river’s side of the town is even more laid back, less touristy, and to me, offered my favorite river view so far from this trip…

On the quieter side of town a bridge gets rebuilt after the rainy season is over.

Well I thought I could get this series done in two posts but I guess there is just too many good things to say and show you about Luang Prabang (and I’m not just procrastinating here; it is truly a wonderful wonderful place). The best is yet to come in my next post about magical evenings of lantern lighting and celebrating under the full moon!

Click here for Part I.

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6 comments on “End of Buddhist Lent and Loi Krathong in Luang Prabang – Part II

  1. travelerlynne
    November 5, 2012

    You bring back such fond memories of our trip there, one of them on a boat ride. Such a joy being in Luang Prabang.Looking forward to the next post on lantern lighting.

    • Wanderlustress
      November 5, 2012

      Next post coming soon Lynne! I’m halfway through my monitoring & evaluation homework assignment so hopefully I’ll get to post tomorrow.

  2. lidipiri
    November 5, 2012

    Ah, Luang Prabang, how I miss it and how I loved it.
    I am so jealous that you have made Laos your home. Do you like it? How’s your Lao course doing?
    Thank you for giving me a way to revisit. 🙂

    • Wanderlustress
      November 5, 2012

      We do like it here although certain elements make it uncomfortable at times. Overall life is really really good so I can’t/shouldn’t complain. I’m only taking one hour of Lao each week just to correct mistakes and ask the teacher questions. After 10 months of the full-time course back in DC I’m comfortably fluent but continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. I guess also I’m taking advantage of this benefit from my husband’s work since it’s free. I’m always up for continued learning.

  3. Dani
    November 5, 2012

    the river boat ride sounds absolutely heavenly and I’m sure the kids loved it!! We’re heading to Bangkok this weekend and I”ll have to keep that idea in mind for when Will needs an entertaining break. I can’t wait to see the photos of the lantern lighting! I loved the mid-autumn moon festival in China when everyone floated lights down the river, I can only imagine how much more incredible the Lenten celebration must be in Laos!

    • Wanderlustress
      November 5, 2012

      Yes, I just read on http://travelladywithbaby.com/ that you can easily rent your own long-boat in Bangkok near the Grand Palace. Do you have a post about the lighted floats in China for the mid-autumn moon festival? Would love to see them. It was really hard for me to get the right setting for the lighting since it was so dark at the river’s edge where we sent off our krathongs and both kids were crying from the loud fire crackers. But we managed to find a peaceful spot to do our own lantern lighting after getting away from the crowds.

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