My favorite place in Laos is the former capital city of Luang Prabang, situated about 300km north of Vientiane. Most of the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is full of interesting buildings, funky shops, meditative temples, and glorious views. It sits on a peninsula between the Mekong and Nam Khon rivers with a population of 50,000 but it really doesn’t seem very crowded. Our arrival coincided with the start of Laos New Year and the water fights were as intense as any of the Songkran battles down in Thailand. As we entered Luang Prabang, we were stopped by a convoy carrying the President of Laos. Other than sightseeing, my favorite activities were visiting Big Brother Mouse and eating wonderful baguette sandwiches,
The card above pictures That Pathoun (Stupa of the Great Lotus) which lies within the walls of Wat Visounnarath, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang originally erected in 1513 and rebuilt in 1898. That Pathoun is also known as That Mak Mo or the “watermelon stupa” due to its similarities to the fruit. The rounded dome stylistically reflects a Sinhalese influence and is the only stupa of its shape in Laos and perhaps even in Cambodia or Vietnam. I stumbled across the temple while searching for the local Red Cross office; it has become a tradition of mine to donate blood during my travels.
This postcard features the Tham Ting, or lower cave, of the Pak Ou Caves alongside the Mekong River about 25km north of Luang Prabang. The caves are noted for the hundred of miniature Buddha sculptures laid out through the caves. I was very disappointed that we were unable to visit this site during our visit as I’ve loved visiting caves ever since I was very young. We first visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico when I was seven or eight years old and we had plenty more to choose from when we lived in the Nashville, Tennessee, area in the mid-1970’s including Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave.