From the balcony of our six-guest room, former French villa, we can watch the monks in the next-door monastery. They are doing the monk routines of studying, tending gardens, chatting, playing, sending text messages and washing their orange/red robes. These monasteries are generally the only means of acquiring an education in Laos. There is something lovely about the vibration of Luang Prabang monasteries, which are devoted to a blend of spiritual pursuits and education.
The must-does of this special town: 1) Observe from a respectful distance the almsgiving, which involves giving rice to the monks as an act of religious virtue) by the townspeople morning after sunrise. 2) See the sunset from a cafe along the Mekong. 3) Hear (and watch) the monks chant late afternoon. 4) Enjoy the French bakeries. 5) Relax! Slow down. (Remember, this country is called the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, or PDR. PDR also stands for Please Don’t Rush). 6) Talk to the monks; they love to practice English. 7) Take a river trip on the Mekong. 8.) Visit the NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) that are helping build a new Laos, like Big Brother Mouse (Aussie run), the Library (run by Carol, an American, providing free computer use, a lending library of well chosen books, and cameras to capture Lao life. This facility is used by 100 students and monks daily). Ock Pop Tok (a woman’s co-op operating a large shop in town and a wonderful restaurant and inn on the Mekong on the edge of town, offering weaving and dying classes and workshops). There are many more. Visiting and supporting these astounding organizations will make your visit worthwhile. 9) There is wonderful food here. Eat, eat and eat more! 10) Enjoy the night market. Play and bargain, making it fun so everyone wins.
Most of all just let this place sink in. Once under your skin, it will itch in the most wonderful way.