My hotel was like staying in a French Villa. The pool was beautifully surrounded by a teak wood deck. My days were spent with my guide, a very nice twenty-six year old woman who really did her best to teach me about local culture. Bless her heart she tried, but I struggled to understand her command of the English language. I understood about 70%. It wore me out trying to fill in all the words I didn’t get.
Day One: We visited the local Wats (temples) and the former Royal Palace. After seeing the house, we walked around the palace headed somewhere towards the back to see the Caw Exhibit. I said, “WHAT?” The guide said the Khawwwwww Exhibit. I said, “WHAT?” Finally I got it, “Oh, the Car Exhibit.”
There are two photos of the workers at Wat Mai on scaffolding who are applying gold leaf to the wood carvings. (I thought my sign painter buddy Chuck Ellsworth would appreciate the craft.) Each piece of gold is about two by three inches backed in paper (see on ground) and molded into the wood.
The afternoon trip was a boat ride to Pak Ou Caves on the Mekong River– caves filled with thousands of golden Buddha statues. The entrance to the cave has an opening that outlines the shape of the Buddha and has a rock formation in the shape of the ear. On the way down river back to town we stopped at a village that produces rice whiskey.
Day Two: The highlight was when I bathed an elephant in the river. What a blast! Then went for a swim at Kuang Si Waterfalls.
The final day I woke up before dawn to see the Alms Giving. Long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from the residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people.