Encircled by mountains and set 700 meters above sea level at the confluence of the Nam Khan (Khan River) and the Mekong River, the city’s mix of gleaming temple roofs, crumbling French provincial
architecture and multiethnic inhabitants tend to enthrall the travelers.
Some of the ethic inhabitants are Hmong, Mien, and Thai tribal people. Orange-wrapped Buddhist monks occupy 32 of the original 66 historic temples, before the era of French colonization, including the stunning half-millennium-old Wat Xieng Thong. Luang Prabang (Muang Luang, as the local call) unique place turned-museum.
Sealed highways linking Luang Prabang with China and Thailand have turned the city into an important relay point for commerce between the three countries.
BUN PI MAI LAO (LAO NEW YEAR)
In the middle of April the three day Songkan (water festival) celebrates the start of Lao New Year. Songkan, from Sanskrit Samkranta (fully passed over) signifies the passage of the sun from the sign of Pisces into the sign of Aries in the zodiac where people celebrates the same especially in Luang Prabang.
On a spiritual level, the Lao traditionally believe during this period the old Songkan spirit departs and the new one arrives. On the first day of the festival, the people gives thorough cleaning on their home.
At Hat Muang Khoun, a Mekong River Island beach near Ban Xieng Maen, locals gather to build miniature sand stupas for good luck and throwing of river water.
On the second day civic groups mount colorful costumed parade down Luang Prabang main avenue from Wat Pha Mahathat to Wat Xieng thong. The third day is rest. On the morning of fourth day people climb Phu Si to make offerings of sticky rice at the summit stupa.
Then in the afternoon they participate in bqasii (sacred string-tying) ceremonies with family and friends.
On the fifth day the Pha Bang (the Khemer-style standing Buddha figure kept in the royal Palace Museum) leaves the Royal Palace Museum and is taken to Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham in solemn procession while on the 6th day the new spirit arrives.
This day is crucial for cleansing especially to Buddhist holy images-particularly in Pha Bang, which is a temporary pavilion erected in front of Wat Mai by pouring water onto them through wooden sluice pipes shaped like nagas. On the last day the Pha Bang is brought back to the palace.
We visited the museum and the other Wats one of which where of extend to the bottom.
Thereafter, we took a boat across the Mekong River to see various caves where place of worship. Thereafter we went back to hotel.
During the most important processions you may notice three figures wearing large red-hued wooden heads with thick hairlike materials draped over their bodies. Two represent Lao Thoeng (upper Lao people) or Grandfather Nyeu and Grandmother Nyen as protectors of environments.
A third figure Sing Kaew Sing Kam wear the same hairy robe but is topped by a stylised lion head and is possibly a representation of a Khmu king.
Thank you Lord for this wonderful trip.