December 5th, 2011


Update from Luang Prabang

Winding down my last day here, bittersweet.

Like stepping into a Chinese painting, Nong Khiaw is magical. Near vertical limestone cliffs and thick jungle covered hills with twisted Silk Cotton trees thrusting their umbrellas skyward above the canopy. It would be easy to spend an entire day just on the bridge, watching boats arrive and leave, women washing clothes, children swimming in the Nam Ou, and the sky morphing from misty morning to blue and cotton day, to rusty pink evening. I spent two days up there, arriving on a lazy slow boat from Luang Prabang, up river past endless vegetable gardens planted on the rich banks left by the receding summer floods, tiny villages of wood, thatch and tin, and dozens of longboats motorized and not, containing fishermen, families, and travelers.

I visited the caves where the Lao government hid during the heaviest bombing campaign ever inflicted on one country by another, the last spasm in our psychotic war against Vietnam.

I was guided by a child born after the Soviet Union became a dim memory and China embraced Capitalism, if not Democracy. He spoke no English, but he and his friends earned extravagant tips by posing for pictures.

On my last day here in Luang Prabang, I crossed the annually rebuilt bamboo bridge to a small village and a wonderful lunch, revisited a couple of my favorite temples in different light, shopped for family, and am relaxing with an americano waiting to go to the night bus for Vientaine. I'll have a day there and then home.

Tucsonans, if you come down to 4th Ave for the street fair, I'll be in the gallery. Stop in and say hi!