Laos: Asia’s New Cultural Hot Spot
Travel + Leisure magazine featured an article on Laos becoming Asia’s new hot spot, as reported by Guy Trebay.
…Luang Prabang is a rare place in Asia—a calm and somnolent city, a town of narrow lanes and polychrome temples and worn timber houses and scabbed colonial colonnades, all set along a peninsular thumb that juts toward a bend in the Mekong River and is surrounded by mountains that are like palisades shutting out the wider world.
There are other protections as well. Since 1995, when UNESCO inscribed Luang Prabang on its list of World Cultural Heritage sites, designating it “the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia,” teams of architects and planners, mostly French, have labored to hold back the inevitable tide of development, retarding if not altogether halting the changes that often spell doom when some lovely and untouched backwater becomes the next destination. And Luang Prabang is surely that place…
The city I found was dozy and small enough to cover on foot in a day or two but best experienced over the course of a week. Like the mandalas some Buddhists use as aids to meditation, Luang Prabang turns out to be a city of recurrent patterns, of images and motifs explored and repeated, refined across centuries and with the clear-cut goal of hastening enlightenment. It was for centuries a royal city, but just as important was its role as a monastic center. Even now the temple complexes are active centers of worship and learning. The saffron-robed monks you see everywhere are more than local color. They are the animating force of the city, the engine whose sound is the always-audible hum of their prayers.
To read the complete article, visit Travel and Leisure.com