All I wanted was to get out of Bangkok for a few days. I have to admit that I was not expecting much when I planned to visit Luang Prabang. How wrong I was! This town is so laid back, so charming and so friendly that I am not sure if I ever want to leave.

LP is very compact and great for walking. There are fascinating galleries and shops. But the restaurants surprise me the most. The French left a legacy of strong coffee, crunchy baguettes and pate. All of the Lao and French food I have tried here has been exceptionally good. Yesterday I spent a lazy afternoon doing practically nothing but watching passers-by from veranda of a local cafe. Most people have never seen me do anything like that back home.

The day began at dawn when my lovely Purple Dragon guide took me to see the procession of at least one hundred monks who begin their day in search of food from kind strangers. It was a breathtaking sight. But what really moved me was the reverence and generosity of the local people.

This morning we took a short trip to the stupendous Khuang Sii waterfall. What do you think of these photos? I have never seen water this color before. Tonight before sunset we are going to climb up a "serpent stairway" to a temple that overlooks the Mekong. 

Then tomorrow I will be off to Kamu Lodge, in a forest two hours up the Mekong River. No TV. No fast food. No stress. I plan to to meditate, listen to the rice grow, and see what village life is like without electricity.

People like to call Luang Prabang the "Chiang Mai of fifty years ago." My friends at Purple Dragon know how to operate the time machine! How about joining me when I return next year?

-- Dan

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