Laos has gone from an royalist agrarian society to a Buddhist 21st century tourist mecca, guided by state control, but driven by enthusiastic resident consumer expectations. Luang Prabang is the heart of its tourist cash cow, populated by craftspeople, bedroom renters, restaurants, tuk-tuk drivers, and night market saleswomen. The slow pace, opportunities to interact with lots of monks and novices, and river-focused views and sunset boat trips, make it a place at the end of the world where you haven’t really left it.
In a few years, when Chinese investments have built high speed rail systems, and dams to the Mekong River to generate electricity to sell to Thailand, the standard of living and quality of life might change. But for now, the elements of peace and an egalitarian system seem to be all around us. That, and really cheap, high quality living.
To see all of the photos taken today, click on: Tuesday, March1st, Luang Prabang