Categories
LIFE TRAVEL

Spot’s first walk around Luang Prabang

I didn’t plan on falling in love with Spot, but he’s my best friend now. He follows me around everywhere. He’ll scratch at my door to let him in every night and gets really jealous if I give affection or food to his sister or any of the other dogs at my apartment.

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The first couple of days we went on a walk it was just Spot and I. Now it seems all of the dogs in the neighborhood follow us around. There’s an ATM across the street where I live. There was this old man with the scariest-looking eyes I’ve ever seen and two of his young punk-looking friends who seemed like they were about to jump me when I got some cash out at 1 am. When I did my best dog bark, all of the dogs in the neighborhood came running to me and surrounded me. At first, they looked at me like a dumb white boy they were about to rip off, but when all my dog friends showed up, they just smiled and went away.

Spot found this bug. At first, I thought it was a child’s toy. Then I thought it was like a royal cockroach or something. I think it’s some type of wood beetle. I don’t know, but it looks cool. Do you know what it is?

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Spot followed me around town for about 10 km. He was very good about staying on the sidewalk and not running into the street, but I did have to carry him across a few intersections.

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Spot likes temples. He’ll lead the way in, look around a bit, then leave. Maybe he was a Buddhist in his last life.

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I gave him plenty of water along the way, but at one point he just wouldn’t have it anymore. He laid down near a bank to cool down in the shade and close to the cool air-conditioned air blowing out the door.

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I remember when I was a kid it seemed like everybody had these old World War II Army jeeps. This one is US Army, USMC, and Laos. Is this even a US Army version? It looks a little off to me. I think it’s a Russian or Chinese version but painted like an American one. They still look cool today. Imagine how cool they looked back in World War II.

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This is Mano Temple about halfway to the center of downtown Luang Prabang.

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One of the things I’ve loved about living here is that for all of 2020 and until now, nothing was shut down. They didn’t bother with restrictions except for closing down the borders, but recently everyone’s gone paranoid. All the restaurants and dance clubs are shut down because an American and Korean have died of the virus.

I love the bamboo barricades they’ve all put up here to protect their neighborhoods. It reminds me of when I was a 10-year-old boy with a fort in the woods and a sign that said, “No girls allowed!”

I was a hotel manager before the virus came. Now I’m just a Hive blogger and the guy who hangs out with the dogs all day. It’s sad to see these nice hotels being neglected like this. A lot of my friends who worked at the hotel with me are now delivery drivers. I can’t wait for this stupid virus to end and the world to come back to normal.

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The first bath we took together Spot was acting like it was the greatest injustice in the universe. Whenever you give a dog a bath you have to be very careful never to get the shampoo or water in their eyes or nose or they’ll have a very bad experience and won’t ever want to take a bath again. Now he will stand up on the toilet and let me shampoo him without moving. I just have to say the same thing several times. “Don’t move!”

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Why do dogs love getting up on the bed? I don’t like him doing this because he is a tick magnet. Can you see the guilty look on his face? I feel sorry for Spot because it’s so hot outside, so I’ll let him stay in the room to enjoy the cool air while I’ll walk to the shop to get a beer. He knows it’s wrong, but he’ll always sneak up there when he can.

Categories
LIFE TRAVEL

Rainy Wednesday Walk around Luang Prabang and Massage

I grew up in Seattle and was in the army so the rain ain’t no thing for me. Especially in a tropical environment. When I was in North Carolina for my job training, I remember it raining, then freezing, and having icicles on my hat, so I now feel this warm rain is refreshing and relaxing.

I find it quite amusing when it starts to rain and everyone runs away for cover like ants. What are they afraid of? If your clothes get wet, just wash them. You get completely wet when you take a shower so why is it so horrible when you have your clothes on?

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I also don’t have a problem swimming in this dirty brown Mekong River. The only time I won’t go in is if I have any open wounds. (I don’t want to waste money on antibiotics to kill the cellulitis and not be able to drink for a week.) Everyone always warns it’s dangerous and that I’ll die. From what? Is there a giant anaconda down there? Crocodiles? Maybe the story of the fire-breathing river monster is true. Most people think I’m weird, but I find their always living in fear and slaving away for fiat weird.

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This statue of Buddha appreciated the rain. It helped clean it and look good for this picture. I like the story of the Buddha’s enlightenment. One day while he was praying or meditating it started to rain very heavily and a giant king cobra came around him and expanded its hood flared neck to protect him from the rain.

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I’m sure that the monks can see me from their rooms but it feels really cool to come to an ancient temple and be all alone.

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One of my favorite temples in Luang Prabang is hidden on a hill on this corner. It’s not something you can see from the street, so I was living here almost two years before I found this gem.

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If you leave the city and go into the jungle, you’ll see people using these old American bombs to build their houses. The CIA led a secret war here that saw more bombs dropped than all of WWII. They were made of high-quality metal so are still a threat. Cluster bombs still kill and injure 300 people a year. As an American, I feel very sad that my government did this to these wonderful people and never took responsibility for the damage and death it’s still causing today.

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On an opposite note, peace. Can you spot the PEACE ☮️ bricks in the center of this picture? All buildings in Laos display their construction year. I’ve noticed almost every building from the 1970s used these peace bricks.

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Even when I ask my friends, who’ve spent years as monks, what all these paintings mean, they always don’t know. There’s a meaning and history in each scene. Good luck finding out what they are though.

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I do know about the giants though. Almost every temple will have them somewhere to protect it from evil.

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Which is your favorite Buddha image?

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I treated myself to a long-overdue massage. It felt so good because I’ve been wanting one for over a year. It only costs $6 for an hour oil massage that was one of the best I’ve ever had. I had hurt my back a bit doing wild slides at the water park so the oil massage was just what I needed to end this lovely rainy day.

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Thanks for enjoying this rainy Wednesday walk around Luang Prabang with me today. Have a good one!

Categories
TRAVEL

March Sunset Bike Ride through Luang Prabang 🚲

The town isn’t that big, but I don’t like walking around when it’s hot. Most people like to come out at sunset to socialize, ride bikes, play football, take pictures, or just walk around and enjoy the beautiful sites. I took all of these videos today using my Samsung Phone and edited them with the free Android App, Movie Maker. Maybe they changed their app name to Best Movie since that’s the watermark they added to the video. The free version only lets you share videos at 720p. Lao New Year is only a month away. There will be many people wearing traditional clothing, drinking beer, and splashing water on each other. I’ll most likely get a swim in the river and some video like last year. If you visit here, I recommend renting a bicycle if you only plan to stay in town. I’ve seen too many tourists wreck their bikes, have them stolen, or get shaken down by the cops to recommend renting one. I’ve never seen anyone get in trouble for riding a bicycle. Thanks for checking out my video today. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a happy March!

Categories
TRAVEL

Ancient Temples of Luang Prabang

Some of the temples in Laos are over 700 years old. They were most likely places of worship even longer than that. There also are these giant jars that are thousands of years old and no one has any idea who made them, how, or why. The locals have stories that they were used for brewing beer by giants.

There are so many temples in Luang Prabang that you could live here for years and not see them all.

There are famous temples where tour guides will take you, but there are also many hidden gems no one has ever publicly photographed or can be found on the internet.

These gargoyles represent the story of Buddha’s enlightenment. While he was meditating, a large serpent wrapped around and protected him from the rain. Even though they are mostly Buddhist here, there are still signs of Hinduism in the designs of the statues.

You will often see sticky rice in the mouths of the gargoyles as an offering and thanks for their protection.

If you ever get lost in Luang Prabang, look up and you’ll see the golden Phousi pagoda. There are many ways to hike up with great viewpoints and Buddhas to see. The whole town worked together to lift the construction materials needed by working together as a bucket brigade or human chain.

I captured this shot at sunset at Xiengthong Temple which was built in the 1500s. I imagine that way back then there were fewer distractions so they maintained the flowers and buildings even better than they do today.

This is a cemetery for Vietnamese who’ve passed away here. Since some of them were Christian, they were buried. Buddhists usually cremate their dead, but will sometimes have some small shrine with their picture containing their ashes here. I don’t think a lot of people ever visit this place because it’s at the edge of town and is creepy in a haunted way.

My friends always want to meet for lunch at noon or one which I’m always reluctant to do because of the heat at that time of the day, but it’s great for getting bright shots like this. I have no idea the name or location of this temple, I just saw it out of the corner of my eye while riding down a random road.

This would make for a cool animated GIF NFT work of art. I would have energy flow from the roots up and out of the leaves then blessing all creatures around it. If you steal this picture and my idea you have Buddha’s blessing, I’ll be very happy for you too. I’d love to see it, but I don’t know how to make it. I can’t wait until we can just scan our thoughts then create NFT works of art in seconds. It will be so fun for artistic-minded, but not tech-savvy people.

Thank you for exploring these historic temples with me today. I took these over the course of a year using cheap Samsung phones, but good lighting. If you’ve never visited Luang Prabang, it’s in the center of Laos. It was the capital before 1975. It is under UNESCO protection so it won’t change. It’s very likely you could wait twenty years before you came here and found your pictures resemble mine. There is a good vibe and cool weather a third of the time while it will be hot or raining the rest of the year. Most food is delicious, organic, and cheap. Hopefully, you get the chance to visit one day.

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TRAVEL

Enjoy the cool November weather and sunset in Luang Prabang

Winter has finally arrived here. I had to wear socks and a jacket to bed last night because it was so cold. It may look warm and tropical in these pictures, but I promise you it was a chilly memory.

This really is the perfect time to come here. That’s why it’s usually the high season. This will probably be the only time it’s empty like this ever again so I’m just going to enjoy the slow life.

If you like cruising around on a bicycle and enjoying nature like me, then you will fall in love with Luang Prabang.  It’s green all year and has many waterfalls, jungle, caves, and temples to explore. It’s a dream come true for us who love nature photography too.

The night market is a great place for seeing local art and hand made stuff. Now that I’ve got a good camera, I’ll try to post something about it soon. 

You can walk around in the same path everyday and still get great unique shots here. Can you see Phou Si in this picture?

Most fruit shake around town cost just over a dollar. I stopped by BNT for a shake and spaghetti.

The flowers are all about to come out soon.

Some will bloom all year.

I’ve never seen one like this before. Does anyone know the name of this kind of flower?

The sun was starting to set. If I rode my bike along the river I could get a few more shots before the light was gone.

Thanks for enjoying Luang Prabang again with me today. Hopefully you too can visit this special place soon.

Categories
TRAVEL

Wednesday walk around LPQ with my friends…

The flowers are starting to come out in Luang Prabang now. It’s been a ghost town all year and I feel lucky to be one of the few tourists to be here now. There are the random flights out at three times the price and nothing coming in. Things are natural and peaceful here, but I feel bad for the many who rely on tourism which should be booming this time of year.

It was hot for so long then it seemed to rain heavily everyday all day, but now the cool weather is here. I sometimes get the chills at night and no longer need a fan or air conditioning.

I have many great memories here and plan to have more, but this place is holy and has ancient historic energy a thousand times over my soul has seen. Kings were crowned here. Battles went down. Many good and bad things have happened on this site. If you’ve visited, you would remember the deep dream like spiritual feeling too.

Speaking of otherworldliness, look at what my buddy does to scare away evil spirits from his home!

Here’s how I roll. As a kid who was always scared of the dark, I needed a demon scarier than all the rest. You have to understand that many people around the world have NEVER heard, seen, or cared about Star Wars before, but after you show them what The Dark Lord of the Sith can do on YouTube, they fear this mini gargoyle ghost repellent, besides, we know who to call!

I was worried about him because he’d been in a crash and we heard he had a lot of breaks, but he wasn’t that bad. I tried to relax on this hammock…

Drink some is this NOT Jim Beam local moonshine that might as well be paint thinner. If you want to prove you’re a real man and drink lots of this hundred proof cocktail from hell, be my guest…

But one friend kept complaining about the noise and the other kept complaining about all the construction violations they’d be committing if this were Canada. It reminded me of when we did construction as punishment in the military, but loved it. How many red flags do you see?

Thank you for witnessing this once in a lifetime opportunity to be here now with me today. Have you been here before? Please share in the comments…

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TRAVEL

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?

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TRAVEL

Spirited Away in Luang Prabang

One of my favorite things to do here is ride around and get lost. This small ancient town always has hidden beauty to reveal. Today was no different. My buddy came by looking for something to do, so we cruised around town snapping pictures with my new phone. It’s a Samsung A11, the cheapest and lowest end model of 2020, but it can take some really nice pictures. 

Not all bridges are the same. They rebuild this every year after the boat races and rainy season.

The restaurant wasn’t the only thing we captured today. Glad to see the car we parked here in 1969 is still parked.

The goat didn’t want to participate in the photo shoot.

Taking up close nature, water, and across the river shots to the old princess’s home is a good test for a camera. I think cheap smart phones are finally to par with the big ones worn around the neck.

Things were bad before the pandemic, but 2020 has made this lovely place into a ghost town.

Local life is back to normal, but tourism and hospitality are bone dry. This restaurant was built by a Thai superstar to look like ancient times, but never found success.

I didn’t see any security and was able to walk around taking these pictures. Few abandoned places in the world can look this nice void of damage and vandalism. Something about this place made me feel like it was the real life Spirited Away. I didn’t see any people eating too much food or any pigs, so it was OK.

Sanctuary in Luang Prabang, Laos

Home Alone

My friend from Germany is the only guest staying at this hotel due to the virus. I wouldn’t have even known about this place if he hadn’t invited me over for some beer.

entrance

entrance

I’ve walked or driven by several times, but because of the sign, I always thought it was a religious place and just ignored it. It’s not religious, but it’s quite expensive.

discount

discount

My buddy and his girlfriend are the only guests staying here, so they got an 80% discount.

Mai Too Restaurant

Mai Too Restaurant

Nice, but empty.

Nice, but empty.

Around here, mid-level and cheaper businesses are doing fine, but these fancy places have become bare.

pond

pond

Seating for No One

Seating for No One

It may be a sad story for the hotel owner, but my friend feels like royalty staying here alone.

Beautiful Roof

Beautiful Roof

You may appreciate the lovely pond, but I can only see a beautiful, but dumb roof. It collects way more than enough solar energy a day to run everything. I would like to have a hotel just like this, except that the roofs will collect solar energy like Elon Musk’s roofs do. It could be marketed as a green off-grid place to stay.

supermarket

supermarket

If you do fancy staying at this hotel, it’s south-east of the Dara Market.

How far from home?

How far from home?

I personally despise America. The food tastes like GMO shit, the people are fat, dumb, and judgmental. Everything is fake, including the religion, the news, the financial system, and the whole “American Dream”. I’m glad it’s all over 13,000 kilometers away from here.

Haunted Bar

Haunted Bar

This is a sad picture because I really wanted to do a post about this place after it re-opened after the lockdown.

Hive Bar

Hive Bar

I was planning on showing the owner our HIVE community and how to post here, but it looks like it is another unnecessary lockdown casualty. Things feel almost normal here in Laos, there just aren’t any Chinese tourists, and a third of the businesses never came back.

New Restaurant

New Restaurant

This travel blog has been a great motivator for me to try new places. I’m a creature of habit and love to go to the same spot and eat the same thing every day, but I’ve been trying new places a lot now.

”Resfaurnt”

”Resfaurnt”

The artist got the Laos spelling right, but not the English, because fuck spelling right?

playtime

playtime

The staff was warm and friendly. It was nice of them to think of the kids.

Riverside View

Riverside View

I’ve swum across the Mekong river before but decided not to join my friend this time. I was super hungry and was already drunk so we just enjoyed our food and beer while we tried to keep an eye on him.

menu

menu

I always get mad at my friends who have something like this printed before checking with a native speaker. I mean come on, how hard is to ask someone to check it for a minute before you go and permanently make it look like you don’t give a shit?

Start the swim.

Start the swim.

My friend probably got HIV and Covid-19 by swimming in this river, but that’s how you boost your immune system right?

Small Dot

Small Dot

You can barely see him in the center of the shot here. His head is just a small little dot.

Jet Ski Time

Jet Ski Time

The lifeguards were at the same restaurant as us, so maybe they could jet ski to him in time if he cramped up, but he was fine. I still follow my military training of always having a swim buddy and told him not to swim alone, but he didn’t listen or care.

The End

The End

Thanks for checking out another restaurant with us today here in Luang Prabang. Don’t swim across rivers alone!

Categories
TRAVEL

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!


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