Back to Luang Prabang and the gentleness it exudes and washes through my whole being. This town’s special quality is that of being. There is an old saying: the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Laotians watch it grow and the Cambodians harvest the rice. Laos is a place to come to, to be. There is plenty to do, but if you aren’t taking the time to watch the rice grow, then you missed Laos.
Being a small town, it’s easy to feel at home in Luang Prabang almost at once. Bordered by the Mekong River on one side and the Khan River on the other, getting lost for more than a couple minutes in the old town is impossible.
It’s early morning and the monks from the monasteries are accepting gifts of sticky rice for their breakfast from the townspeople, a sweet daily ritual that occurs just after sunrise.
I’ve tried a dozen times to capture the essence of Luang Prabang in words. I always fail to identify the source of peace and joy Laos brings to me. Is it the number of monasteries (36)? The quiet vibe? The presence of meditating monks? The natural beauty? The mysterious Mekong itself? Maybe it’s the pace of life? Motorcyclists often drive by only twice as fast as I walk, or they drive side-by-side slow enough to have an easy conversation. There is sweetness in the air.
Here, a spell settles over me, a soft web of gentle conversations that remind me that life can have a balance between making things and watching the rice grow.