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Luang Prabang in Monsoon

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We narrowly escaped another downpour. And by downpour, I mean a thick, blanketing, vision obscuring, cacophonous affair that would render you soaked before you could take a step towards safety.
We were supposed to go to a waterfall today, and while it’s slightly disappointing we wont have such an opportunity, sitting inside a cafe drinking thick, dark Lao coffee and watching temples in the distance disappear behind a veil of rain isn’t so bad either. This is monsoon, after all. In exchange for lower prices and less tourists we must accept the occasional sequestering to cafes and disrupted plans. There will be many more waterfalls to be seen.

Yesterday on the other hand was clear and pleasant, no downpours, no scorching sun. We walked a five mile loop around the city, crossing a bamboo bridge over the river which looked as if it might collapse at any moment. Another indication that distinctly reminds us, we are not in the US anymore. We ate lunch overlooking the river, sampling crisp mekong seaweed, eggplant dip, Lao sausage, sticky rice, dried pork, and buffalo skin chili sauce. All the food was fantastic, and far more unique than we had anticipated. Though Lao food has distinct influence from its neighbors, it has a flavor all it’s own. Though I was happy to see street vendors tossing som tam (papaya salad, my favorite Thai dish). We then perused local textile shops finding hand dyed indigo scarves made in central Laos, and this is a rare act for us, actually purchased a few.
For dinner we met our group of friends from the boat and hit the night market in search of cheap eats. Though it doesn’t compare to Thai street food, the experience of cramming small chairs around low lying tables in the middle of a thronging, steaming night market, sipping beerlao from sweating bottles and recounting travel adventures and plans more than made up for the average food.
After, we made our way, weaving through residential streets to a bar hidden riverside. The twelve of us drank beer or spicy tequila concoctions with cucumber that the bar tender had to go pick from the garden out back. We sat on cushions, or swung our legs over the edge of the deck and listened to the slow rolling thunder of a storm in the distance. The air was warm and sticky, the beer blurred and softened the lights flickering from the candles lit haphazardly around us. “We are Young” played appropriately overhead, it was one of those moments of unadulterated joy, of perfection in time and place. Here, with new friends, on a perfectly warm night overlooking the ebb and flow of the river. We wished time to slow, to freeze this image, and all I could think is how much I love this, love being here, with these people, on the other side if the world. I’m falling in love with Laos. Rain storms and all.

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