Come to Southeast Asia the middle of April.
|Happy New Year Laos!|
|The water squirting holiday|
Although the water wars are part of a Buddhist festival with a purpose, Luang Prabang is filled with not only Laotian uplanders, lowlanders, outlanders (as they refer to tribes in this country), but thousands of tourist who let it all hang out in a Carnival fashion. No one gets mad, just inebriated. The more water thrown upon you, the better your luck in the new year. This occasion is the once a year obligatory washing of everything Buddha. All Buddhas. All statues, of which there are millions. And as well the black iron pots are cleaned and that just adds more fodder to the situation because young people take the black ash from these normally cooking vehicles and rub it on their faces and yours if they can get close enough. There are also red and green powders that locals rub in their hands and on their faces and other’s faces and even put handprints on passing mini-vans. The only ones who are not to be sprayed are Monks and police (although I saw many drenched police - probably in the cross-fire.
|View from the caves|
|Long tailed boat at caves|
Probably the most important reprieve and obligation is to take the four hour trip in a long tail boat up the Mekong River to the Caves of Pak Ou. These caves in a limestone cliff way off the beaten track are hard to get to because they are on the other side of the wide Mekong River and there are no bridges across the river as it passes through Laos.
(Can you imagine no bridges across the Mississippi?) Apparently these caves were founded by an “uplander” who had a animist belief and each year sacrificed a water buffalo, chicken and pig on the premise. (There is a lot of talk about ethnicity in Laos - which region someone comes from. Uplanders originally migrated from Mongolia and Northern China. There are 49 tribes in Laos.)
|Washing the Buddhas|
|How do you take your whiskey?|
|Snake, Centipede, scorpion whiskey|
|Gourmet Laos Lunch|
After these long days of walking and climbing, back at the Satri House, a half hour foot massage awaits on a lounge chair outside between the various swimming pools. Now that’s a way to lock into a meditative state and finally peace.