Luang Prabang is described in most tour books as “itinerary busting.” What? What? (meaning Luang Prabang will bust your itinerary plans because it is so beautiful, friendly and low-key, most people don’t want to leave after their 2 day stopover ends) Luckily (some people could call it luck– but just between you and me— it was all my rabid planning) we are here for 2 weeks!
When we arrived yesterday on a LAOS AIRWAYS prop plane at Luang Prabang from Bangkok. When we stepped off the air-conditioned plane onto the tarmac it felt like we were slapped in the face with heat. Not the wet kind- the dry kind that makes you feel crispy. It was 35 C (that’s 95 F for you folks in the USA). Now I’ve been hotter, but it’s been a while. I actually like hot (Josh does not) and I was feeling pretty excited to be here. So sweating profusely and grinning we made our way through the tiny airport. First we stood in the long line at the Visa On Arrival and then we stood in the Passport/Visa check line and then we waited for our bags. All smooth and easy (but hot).
We were met at the airport by Ken– a friendly young man who works at the hotel. He shared his story on our 10 min drive to our hotel. At age 10 he joined the monastery– as many boys in Laos do. But he found the life very hard– only 2 meals a day (early and late) and fasting the rest of the time. Waking at 4 am for meditation, and then long days of study and devotion were very hard for him. But he thought the education was important, so he went back to his Wat (temple) at age 13 and stayed for 4 years. Now he’s 21 and has started 2 different service projects. One– Community Reading Room is up and running and aims to create a library and reading class to Ken’s village. Just a few months ago he’s started a second project House of Dreams to provide housing for village children to attend school (in town) so they can get more than primary school education. Ken’s passion for helping others is contagious. We will be visiting his projects later this week and I hope to volunteer to teach a class there.
We arrived at our beautiful hotel (My Dream Resort) and met another amazing person! Evelyn Napier is the GM of the hotel. She’s a transplanted Canadian-ex-lawyer-International-School-English-teacher. She’s been wonderful to work with online and so fun to meet in person. She told us that she would be out all the next day because she’s working on helping a French woman who’s doing a sanitation education and latrine installation in a remote village. It’s 3 hours up river each way (by fast boat) and then 2 km hike in through the bush to the village. She’s going to shoot video and images to help the French woman with publicity because it’s hard these days to raise funds for humanitarian projects. So that’s how she was going to spend her day off.
So basically we met 2 amazing characters who are doing important work to change the world before I even finished my mixed juice smoothie. Did we find a great place to stay for 2 weeks or what? I am so happy to be here! It is exactly the right place for our retreat.