Seeing the Sights of Luang Prabang, Laos With Eyes Wide Open

On The Seventh Day in Luang Prabang I Was Reborn as a Traveler

On my seventh day of seeing the sights of Luang Prabang, I rested. For the past week I’d rushed around, visiting temples and museums, attending cultural events and scouring the night market. Finally, satisfied that I had seen all the most important sites that the historic town had to offer, I plopped down at a street side table in the open air Lao Lao Garden Restaurant for a leisurely lunch and settled into the gentle flow of Lao life.

Lao Lao Garden Restaurant, my refuge from seeing the sights of Luang Prabang for a few hours one afternoon

Lao Lao Garden Restaurant, my refuge from seeing the sights of Luang Prabang for a few hours one afternoon

Eschewing my normal penchant for bitter black brew, I stirred sugar and milk into my Lao coffee and savored the sweetness as I gazed out on the lazy street. A produce man pedaled by, hesitating ever so briefly as he called to the owner, offering the green, gold and crimson vegetables heaped in upon his wooden cart. Getting no response, he glided away. The rice cake lady arrived next, seated side-saddle on a purring motorbike, laden down with freshly fried treats wrapped in pretty pastel cellophane tied with pink ribbon. Having sampled her wares several days earlier, my mouth watered like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

Between transactions and breast-feeding her infant, the owner somehow found time to prepare my Padsapao, a traditional dish of tofu or meat stir-fried with Lao-style veggies, herbs and spices. At my request, it was served with a helping of sticky rice, which arrived in a small round wicker basket. Popping of the lid, I dug out a chunk of rice with my fingers and pinched it together with with some of the Padsapao, eating in typical Lao style. The lightly fried vegetables and crispy herbs were “sep-lau” – very delicious.

Traditional Lao Padsapao with sticky rice basket

Traditional Lao Padsapao with sticky rice basket

My one hour lunch became two, then three hours long. Young boys dressed in matching jerseys rode by in the back of a pickup truck, sounding an ah-ooga horn and hoisting a golden trophy aloft. Nothing was lost in translation; the joy of victory was palpable. Thunder rumbled and dark clouds rolled in, creating midday dusk. Boys carrying crates of Singha beer on their shoulders strolled languidly down the sidewalk, despite the fat raindrops that began to fall. Two girls puttered by on a motorbike, the rear passenger holding a purple umbrella over her driver. And still I sat. Three  hours stretched into four. No one asked me to leave or even pay the bill. Except for the massage I had scheduled, I might have stayed well into the evening.

Can’t view the above slide show of seeing the sights in Luang Prabang, Laos? Click here.

On my seventh day of seeing the sights of Luang Prabang, I emerged from my tourist chrysalis, spread my wings, and once again metamorphosed into a traveler.

7 Comments on “On The Seventh Day in Luang Prabang I Was Reborn as a Traveler

  1. This is very well-written post, Barbara. We have moved away from being the kind of travellers who try and tick off everything there is to do in a town and instead prefer doing the exact kind of thing that you did on this day. Luang Prabang was an amazing city for this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank YOU Jazza! There is an ongoing debate about who is a tourist and who is a traveler, and I don’t want to get caught up in those labels, but I agree with you that I long ago got over the need to tick off sites, and that I enjoy travel much more this way.

  2. Hi Barbara, your various articles on Luang Prabang are very refreshing! I work with a local hotelier at Luang Prabang, and we are promoting Luang Prabang and our accommodations on social media. Could we use your articles on our facebook pages? We will provide credits.



    • Hi Jerome: If by “use my articles” you mean sharing my blog posts on Facebook, by all means, do so. However please do not copy my article and paste it into your site, not even with credit, as my writing is copyrighted material. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Claudia: Make sure to get up early one day and see the monks make the rounds for alms – it’s a bit of a circus these days, but if you get on the back streets instead of the main road, you can still get a sense of the specialness of this tradition.

  3. Oh – what a calming post!  I love it when people slow down.  Sitting at a coffee shop or restaurant all day is bliss.  Glad you enjoyed it and soaked it in!

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