Wednesday, September 1, 2010


People were generally quite interested when I mentioned that we were going to Cambodia. “Angkor Wat,” they would say, and nod at each other and murmur generally agreeable things about vacationing there. Laos was met with only feigned interest. “Laos, huh? So… what’s in Laos? Frankly, I didn’t even really know the answer myself, but Laos turned out to be quite a boon.
It has a very different vibe than Cambodia, a lot more laid back. We stayed in Luang Prabang, a leftover French colonial town, and a World Heritage site. It’s absolutely picturesque and mixes French architecture and influence with East Asian culture seamlessly. It’s also lot cleaner than Siem Reap in general. And it has a particularly nice sky.

One of the best things about Luang Prabang is that there’s no shortage of Buddhist monks in saffron robes walking around the town, tending to their busy monk agendas and shaving each others’ heads or whatever it is Buddhist monks are into nowadays. Apparently most young Lao men voluntarily choose to join a monastery where they spend a few years as a monk, after which time they can choose to leave or continue living the ascetic life. They walk around the town stoically, but behind closed doors you see them drinking milkshakes and chasing each other around trees and dancing the Charleston, and other such frivolity.

One thing we did really want to see was Tat Kuang Si falls, which were supposed to be these gorgeous turquoise layered waterfalls about an hour north of Luang Prabang. They are so gentle that you can swim around in each pool, all the way down the falls. Adam and I wanted to have them to ourselves, so we opted to wake up before dawn to catch our tuk-tuk for the hour long, bumpy ride out. Because August had so much rain, Tat Kuang Si falls had churned itself into a muddy brown froth, so there was no chance at frolicking in turquoise crystal pools. Disappointed, (doubly-so because I had to put on the patently unfashionable Tony-the Tiger swimsuit I found in a Japanese department store*) I dragged by stripy Kellogg’s butt back to town. The falls were still nice to look at, even if they were brown:

Anyway, Tat Kuang Si aside, we had an excellent time. We enjoyed the scenery, poked around the town, got some massages, and ate some delicious food. Lao cuisine is an incredible amalgamation of Thai, French, Indian and Chinese... Like eating a hollowed out a baguette filled with beef vinadloo and dipped in coconut curry and oyster sauce. Definitely going back someday.

*the other option being something like this


  1. I really think you should post a picture of the Tony the Tiger suit... really really

  2. If you wore your Tony the Tiger suit and shaved your head, you could pass yourself as a striped monk.