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11. March 2018 22:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Monks - Laos

11. March 2018 22:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Religion is an integral part of Laos society where the majority are Budhists.
Religion is an integral part of Laos society where the majority are Budhists.



The monks dressed in orange and red ropes are still visible everywhere and it is largely seen as becoming a novice (junior monk) is seen as an opportunity to get an education and support your family if you come from a poor rural area.


 


The high influx of tourists, especially to Luang Prabang is therefore a bit of a win-win situation for everyone. The tourists support the temples in the area by paying their admission fees to visit and on both my trips I have found that the monks are keen to have a conversation as it is a way of practicing their language skills.

In Luang Prabang the monks walk in procession every morning to collect rice from worshipper along the roads. Before sunrise there are hundreds of monks walking the streets in every direction. There is an equal horde of tourists trying to take photos of these monks and equally tourists handing out (sometimes dubious) rice to them.



There are posters around the city encouraging being there and seeing the monks as well as providing some guidelines such as keeping a certain distance, not using flash photography and if you hand out rice then where to get it from. Most of it common sense really, so it was sad to see how some would be blocking the paths and sticking their camera phones with flashes into the monks faces.





Sacha and I went there a couple of mornings, but because of the time of the year everything was dark and because the monks move quite fast through the streets it was a challenge getting good shots.



One afternoon we walked past a temple and a group of monks were in progress of cutting down a large tree and afterwards trimming off the branches. They were going to use some of the tree trunk for traditional drums and the rest for ornamental purposes inside the temple.







In the late afternoons you would hear them chanting in the small rooms of meditations, chanting and prayer. These are often smaller places of worship and not part of the main temples which are used for more ceremonial purposes.
One evening I heard such chanting and went to investigate and found these monks. Definitely one of my favourite moments in Luang Prabang.



A common assumption and misconception is that the monks live by an ancient code with a simple life, so it is quite interesting to see that even they have adopted modern technology with smart phones and cameras.



11. February 2018 22:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Locals transport - Laos

11. February 2018 22:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The locals are still relying on motorbikes to get around. They are far cheaper and more convenient i
The locals are still relying on motorbikes to get around. They are far cheaper and more convenient in the towns. It is even possible to fit an entire family onto a single motorbike.







Younger kids and high schoolers ride their push bikes for transport.



Although Aiden and the other kids definitely preferred the motor bikes.



Nothing too flash for weddings - a normal new car will suffice. If you notice the sign on the door, then I am not sure if the bride was expecting to come home to 'Meat & Sausage'.



There are also some vintage cars around which have survived since colonial times - like this 1952 Citroen.

10. February 2018 07:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Bowling - Laos

10. February 2018 07:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

On the last day in Luang Prabang we went to the local ten pin bowling alley.We had heard and read th
On the last day in Luang Prabang we went to the local ten pin bowling alley.

We had heard and read that this is the place where things are happening in Laos. When we got there the place was totally deserted apart from a few staff members.

We did play bowling and it is a bit surreal to play by ourselves in this fairly modern centre in Laos.



They didn't have any support rails for the kids, but Aiden especially did really well and the kids managed to beat Kim on points.



9. February 2018 07:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Water fall - Laos

9. February 2018 07:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Just outside Luang Prabang there is this amazing waterfall cascading down a limestone creek.We decid
Just outside Luang Prabang there is this amazing waterfall cascading down a limestone creek.

We decided to get up early to go a take photos, so that we could be there early before all the crowds arrived.





















At the entrance to the park there is also a Bear rehabilitation centre. They rescue bears from captivity and keep them until it is safe to release them back into the wild (if ever). The bears have a big area and seem to love climbing and sleep in the hammocks provided.



8. February 2018 22:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Our kids - Laos

8. February 2018 22:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Our kids had a blast of a time in Laos. They loved each other company (for the most part) and someti
Our kids had a blast of a time in Laos. They loved each other company (for the most part) and sometime looked like real little travellers.








They were respectful at the temples and even offered a prayer.





At other times they behaved like animals and should be lock away in a cage.





But for the most part they liked exploring things that us adults wouldn't see such as this crater from a crash landed U.F.O.

8. February 2018 22:03
by Rene Pallesen
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The kids and families of Laos

8. February 2018 22:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

What I especially remember from my last trip to Laos was the kids. One of my most cherished photos i
What I especially remember from my last trip to Laos was the kids. One of my most cherished photos is one of two little girls holding a bouquet of flowers that I took 20 years ago (it is on this blog if you look for it through the search function).

The children are still there. They are still very shy, dirty and smiling.











They make up their own games such as these kids at a school playing marbles with tamarind seeds.







These kids were playing a game where the kid under the table had to poke the feet of the kids above the table.



And some things never change, kids teasing each other.





The girls in the school yard 'hang out'.



Visiting a local school was great for our kids to get a glimpse of how other kids live.







Along the road we stopped and a family was outside with the mother breastfeeding her son in their outdoor living room. This is where everything happened such as the cooking, washing, feeding etc.





The chicken were running around freely



Here is a rare shot that Kim took with my camera in it.



It is a very family oriented life they live








7. February 2018 21:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Catching local transport - Laos

7. February 2018 21:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

For getting around the towns in Laos we mainly used Tuk-Tuks. These are small motorbike powered mini

For getting around the towns in Laos we mainly used Tuk-Tuks. These are small motorbike powered minibuses and the experience can be very mixed. Most of them are generally good, but some have bad brakes have a plume of smelly two stroke engine smoke trailing behind them. We could easily fit our two families into one and I'd joke that there would even be room for another couple of adults.



The kids loved the tuk-tuks and have the fresh air blowing in their hair while riding.



The only downside is that you'd never quite know what the fare would be until you started bargaining and from town to town the fares seemed to be very different. Even though I believe I am reasonable proficient at bargaining, I'm still confident that we paid more that the locals would be paying for the same trips.











For the longer trips we would catch either local buses (mini vans) or in some instances it was worthwhile us hiring a private bus as we were enough people to fill it.

From Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang we hired a private van taking us across the mountain pass at Kasi. Last time I went through here it was in an open bus and at the pass it was raining and really cold. This time round we had a beautiful clear day with a great view of the valley below from the top.





The week before they had a lot of rain and a landslide had taken out large parts of the last section of road (I read in the local newspaper a few days earlier that the road was closed). Our little van was struggling getting enough grip and our driver had to reverse to get enough of a run-up in the next attempt to make it through the steep and muddy section.

The larger trucks were really struggling getting through.



6. February 2018 16:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Morning Markets - Laos

6. February 2018 16:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The morning markets are interesting. This is where the locals still go to buy their fresh produce an
The morning markets are interesting. This is where the locals still go to buy their fresh produce and all kinds of specialties are being sold here. It would be easy to go here and get the ingredients for some really delicious food.

There are also some unusual things that we don't see in our western kitchens. such as:

Dried Squids:



Fresh fish - of cause, but this have sharp teeth.


A protein and herb table that would make most chefs (and diners) salivate:






The Chillies in Lao are more hot than in Thailand - We loved the heat.


A pig:


River crabs:


Beetles:


Dried rats:




Caterpillar - these are yummi when fried:


Frogs:

River snails:


Dried squid, shrimps and fish:






5. February 2018 16:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Silk - Laos

5. February 2018 16:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

They still manufacture silk they way they used to. It was interesting for the kids to see the proces
They still manufacture silk they way they used to. It was interesting for the kids to see the process from small caterpillar eggs that hatch to worms to the production of the silk itself.






I had always wondered where the colour blue (Indigo) came from. I knew it used to come from a seashell, but I was fairly certain that this wouldn't be the case here. It turns out that they use a special leaf from a plant that when mixed with water and left fermenting/oxidising turns into a blue dye.





They also use plants for most of the other colours.





After they spin the thread they use traditional weaves to make it into pieces of garment. These days the silk garments are fairly expensive - hundreds of dollars, but it used to be really cheap.

5. February 2018 16:03
by Rene Pallesen
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Bamboo Bridges - Laos

5. February 2018 16:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

During the dry season the people of Luang Prabang builds traditional bamboo bridges across the small
During the dry season the people of Luang Prabang builds traditional bamboo bridges across the smaller river. This saves them a lot of time (and cost) to cross directly into the centre of town rather than a long detour to the other larger bridges.

It also earns them a small income to charge foreigners a small fee to cross the bridges.