I seem to be the only person who thinks that’s funny.

We started off our first full day in Luang Prabang with a tour of the Royal Palace Museum (no shoes! no cameras!), built in 1904 for King Sasavang Vong and his family. (Vong’s son, Crown Prince Savang Vatthana lived there until he was whisked away to a Communist “reeducation camp” in 1977.) Inside, along with royal Buddhas, beautiful glass mosaics and other artifacts, there was a room that displayed the diplomatic gifts given to the Lao government by other countries over the years. Most were beautiful objets d’art, valuable antiques or things of cultural significance, but the gift from the U.S. was, if I remember correctly, a bronze desk paperweight with the U.S. presidential seal stamped onto it. Because what says AMERICA like a paperweight? Way to be classy, USA.

And then it was temple time.

classic Luang Prabang temple architecture at Wat Xieng Thong (built in 1560)

so much gilt

And some Buddhas.


Then we took a stroll down lovely, shady Khem Khong street which parallels the Mekong for almost the whole length of the city and is probably prime real estate with its riverside views. It’s actually wall-to-wall restaurants and guesthouses.

Saw some freshly made sticky rice cakes drying in the sun,

and the kitchen where they were made.

After lunch, we visited some traditional artisans in Ban Xang Khong just east of the city, where you can watch the women weaving and making paper and then buy their products directly from them. No middle man.

paper mill

labor-intensive pulp pounder

wooden weaving apparatus

And then, when we got back to LP, we climbed Phu Si hill in the center of town, which wasn’t that difficult and has really beautiful views at the top, but which made me so sweaty I thought I was going to pass out. Let’s just say it hadn’t cooled off much by 5 p.m.

But yeah, the views were pretty great.

If you squint your eyes, it looked kind of like this:

That’s me, still dressed in long sleeves and pants, wishing it were 30 degrees cooler.

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