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Sauntering around Luang Prabang for Thanksgiving

I came here with my brother for a 2-day visit which turned into three years, but feels like only 3 weeks have past. My brother went back to America after a month, but he still misses it here. The second we arrived here we knew this was a special and magical place. I believe that ancient towns like this have strong spiritual energy that newer places lack. It’s hard to put into words, but hopefully you can visit here one day and see for yourself.

Before the plandemic this was the most international little town I’ve ever seen. I’ve made friends with so many people from around the world, but now there are only locals and a few expats around. Many people who had cafes or restaurants had to close up shop and return to their home countries which most regret since they have to wear masks and can’t leave their homes. Zero people in Laos have died dispite the large amount of Chinese tourists right before the lockdown. Maybe Lao people have better immune systems. Maybe people died, but they weren’t tested or reported, or maybe this whole covid-1984 is just the flu with a scary name. I honestly don’t know or care. I’m just thankful to be here during these crazy times. I can visit ancient temples and meditate alone for hours or walk around town visiting tourist traps for free. During the Lao New Years I swam in the river with some fellow Americans, a German, Brazilian, and a few locals. It was surreal to have the town and river to ourselves. It’s an experience we’re very unlikely to have again. 

I don’t know at what age you’re supposed to go through your midlife crisis, but I had a blast going through mine here. I wonder how many forty year old men have gone solo into a dance club and had 20 year old girls hug them and invite them to the table and looked at like a cool and great dancer. I can’t dance that well, but no one here can either. I always think how lucky I am that I learned how to dance hip hop style in high school and for all the moves and songs to never have really changed. Sometimes I’ll dance using the Macarena moves and they think it’s cool and orginal. 

I never thought of myself as a photographer until I started posting and earning crypto here. There are so many beautiful and natural things to capture in Luang Prabang that I can go around the same walking paths and still capture great images. 

This has been a hard year for the whole world. It is honestly hard to find things to be thankful this Thanksgiving, but I’m thankful for discovering and living in this hidden gem of Asia. What are you thankful for this year?

UTOPIA in Luang Prabang, LAOS

This is the most famous place in Luang Prabang to drink, chill by the river, and watch the game. Everyone in town knows where it is and it’s easy to find on Google Maps.


It is near the good ATM opposite the street of Wat Aham. You can see Mount Phousi if you look up too. This is a great landmark, because you can see it from most spots in Luang Prabang. They light it up at night. I’m using an old iPad to take this shot, so I took this at 13:00 to get the best lighting.


There are three ways to get here. This is where they keep the garbage, so not many people come in from here.


This way has a cool bridge though. I have a lot of great memories crossing this bridge. There will be some dogs that may bark at you to the left, but they are all sweet ones.


Most people will come from this way. There will be several tuk-tuk drivers here at night. They will charge you around 50,000 kip to go somewhere else in town. If you have a big group, you can try to negotiate, but 50,000 kip is around $5.


You can come in by the ice cream stand and walk past Wat Aphay. If you miss this entrance you will see Red Bull Sports Bar and people playing pool inside. It’s a good place too.


This is a famous ancient temple here in Luang Prabang. I like to come here and add audio to my Youtube videos, because it’s quiet here.


There are plenty of signs to lead you there. There are a few other bars and cheap places to stay along the way.


This is the entrance. If there is a live sports game on, you’ll see a lot of people in this area watching it on the projector screen.


All of the staff are friendly and can speak English well.


There are UXOs or unexploded ordinances as decorations. Don’t worry. The fuses and explosives have been removed. These were not so nice little gifts from Uncle Sam during the Vietnam War. The CIA and US Air-force had a not so secret war here.


You can sit or lay down and enjoy the view of the Namkhan River.


This is the central area and what you’ll see when you first walk in.


This is where they will have fires to stay warm at night. Sometimes guests will chill out and chat and sometimes it’s the dance floor. I spent New Years 2019 here. It was one of my best memories ever.


I couldn’t find the menu on their Facebook page, but my iPad was able to get a clear shot. I just had to crop, rotate, and adjust the lighting a bit, but you can read it.


You can check out their Facebook page here:
https://web.facebook.com/Utopialaos/

Their Facebook page has way better pictures, but I couldn’t find the menu. They accept Bitcoin here as well. Thank you for checking out Utopia today. Hope to see you here one day!


View this post on TravelFeed for the best experience.

Sunset in EDEN: Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang, LAOS

Luang Prabang truly is a magical place. It feels like it’s Christmas every day here. When I was a kid in Catholic school, I remember reading about The Garden of Eden. I imagine it was here, or someplace similar.

Toe Nibblers

I came here with my Dutch friend Frank. He is 53, but way more energetic and fit than I’ve ever been. He had a stroke when he was 32, but is doing very well now. He is a Muay Thai fighter, so he knows how to overcome things like a warrior.

We used his iPhone 7 to take these at about 14:30. I’ve taken great shots and even video here with an iPhone 5 with good sun. Frank said people want to see the natural wonder of Kuang Si Waterfall, not two old white guys hitting on Chinese ladies and our selfies. I agree.

We went for a dive from the big tree with the sign warning NOT to jump in. It’s 9 feet deep, so you can dive in. I would just suggest arching up to surface or jumping in feet first.

If you stay still for longer than three seconds, little fish will come and nibble at your toes.

Layers

You’ll see the bears after paying the three dollar entrance fee. People hunt them, so they need help protecting them. They are very shy and hard to get on camera.

The hike up to the waterfall isn’t arduous. You’ll think you’ve arrived at the best spot, but it keeps showing you it’s many levels of natural beauty.

If you hike up ALL the way to the top, you’ll find a cool swing to show off on. No one seems capable of getting on it, so they’ll take pictures of you or try to do the same. It’s funny either way.

Sun Ray

Southeast Asia has some spectacular islands. In a way, Luang Prabang is one of them. Rather than being surrounded by ocean, it’s an island surrounded by beautiful and farmable mountainous jungle.

I almost deleted this shot because of the sun ray, but I think it looks like a blessing of light.

Farm

It’s about an hour drive from town so we started heading back. Farmers don’t rely on automation or chemicals here like in the west. This makes the food taste good. Organic food is one reason why people here look healthy and happy.

Mekong Sunset

We made it back to town in time to see this. Thank you for exploring beautiful Luang Prabang, or my nickname for it, The Garden of Eden, today. Just don’t eat any apples from The Tree of Life!

Midnight bike riding in Luang Prabang

My days usually start around noon when I wake up.

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I’ve been dealing with this white elephant of a gift for a few days now. It was a nice bike until no one seemed to be able to repair it.

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Carrying it across the bridge of death wasn’t any fun.

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Then the best bike mechanic in town sold this to me for fifteen dollars. I did stripes with electrical tape then spray painted it pink.

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The final product came out like this after adding white paint and nail polish.

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It doesn’t have any brakes so I’ve got to go all Flintstone and drag my feet.

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Are you ready to cross the bridge of death without any brakes?

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I couldn’t separate these two mosquito repellents and broke one, but doesn’t it kind of look like the Death Star?

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I added a Bluetooth speaker and a Nokia burner phone.

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Does the red fingernail polish look like blood?

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Like the purple sparkles?

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I may have gone too far with the white paint.

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Enjoy a Beer Lao and

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Remember there’s a rainbow in the sky all the time.