Photo Galleries


These photos are from a 2009 trip to Lao (or Laos, as most call it as a result of it being a french colony) with my friends Michael and Grace. We traveled with a small group adventure tour with private transport, which was really the only way to easily get around the country easily as the tourist infrastructure is still in its infancy—having only been opened to outsiders in the late 1980s. My friend Grace, with her beautiful dark skin, was very exotic there. You can see the locals taking pictures of us at the Alms and a photo taken in Xieng shows us with a group of local kids who were excited to talk to us as she was the first black person they had ever seen in person. As a result of seeing firsthand the impact of unexploded ordinance (UXOs) left over from the Vietnam war, I now annually contribute to the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). MAG is an organization that removes UXOs from former conflict zones to allow those to improve there to live safer and more prosperous lives. This was one of my favorite trips ever but, sadly, my grandmother died during this trip and I had to leave early.
  • Luang Prabang: Around town, Morning Alms, Night market, Day market, Temples
  • Pak Ou Caves and life along the Mekong
  • Hmong Village and nearby waterfalls
  • Plain of Jars and Xieng Khouang
  • Vang Vieng
  • Vientiane
Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang was my favorite town in Lao. It is the artistic and spiritual capital of Lao and very much feels it. The town sits at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, which dominate the landscape and views. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, a fact of which the locals are very proud. There is a preponderance of inexpensive massage spas (like everywhere we went in Lao). While there we watched the morning alms (described below). This is one of the few places in the world I’ve been that made me want to come back and spend a good long while.
Luang Prabang - Around town


Setting up for night market
Description Here
Luang Prabang - Morning Alms

Activities around the morning alms start very early in the day. Those making donations buy the food items and line the streets; while the monks prepare to begin their procession. Women sell the food offerings in woven baskets. They are various rice-based items that come individually wrapped in leaves and steamed. The baskets hold a number of the steamed packages. As the monks come by, they open their pots if they want some of what you are offering. It is a long procession starting with the oldest monks and ending with the youngest. They are mostly children. At the end, both the attendees providing food and the monks that have more than they need provide food to the hungry in the community. The boy with the green basket in the last photo was provided food by the monks, not the other way around. This way the community ensures that none goes hungry. At the end, the women collect the woven baskets from the sidewalk to prepare for the next day.
Luang Prabang - Night Market

Luang Prabang - Day Market

Luang Prabang - Temples

Pam Ou Caves and life along the Mekong

The Pak Ou caves, accessible only by boat from the Mekong River, sit near Pak Ou (mouth of the Ou river). They are a group of two caves that are noted for their hundreds of miniature Buddha statues and sculptures. The upper cave is completely dark and very hot and even more hot and humid than the jungle.
Hmong Village and nearby waterfalls

The Hmong people live in the highlands of Lao. They are a strong people who fought with the Americans during the Vietnam war. Once the Americans left, they were treated as security risks and forced to move from their ancestral homes to mountainside reservations where they continue to barely scratch out a living through subsistence farming and selling trinkets to tourists. There are a large number of Hmong people in the central valley of California, having come after the Vietnam war. I gained new insight and great respect for them during this trip. The Hmong people have suffered as a result of their support of America.
Plain of Jars region and Xiang Khouang

The region of Xieng Khouang is notable for the continuing impact of the Vietnam war, as well as, for the Plain of Jars, which are the remnants of a mysterious people who crossed a large portion of Asia. On the way to the city of Xieng, we visited a school in a mountain village. There are few rural schools and so the children with the most potential leave their families and walk to this village and then build their own housing! The kids must make their own ways and so the older ones help the younger ones. It’s dangerous as the region is littered with unexploded ordinance. When visiting the archeological sites themselves, one must stay on path that have been cleared by MAG (note the picture of our group touring the area and that none strayed even a step). The paths that are cleared are marked—mostly with bricks on both sides of the clear paths. During the Vietnam war there were activities conducted in Laos that were not acknowledged by the US government. For that reason, it is believed and possible that POWs or their remains may still be located in Lao.
Vang Vieng

This gallery starts with the drive over the mountains before showing Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng is a backpacker-oriented town originally settled in 1353. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town, which are really lovely. You can still see the remains of an airstrip and runway that was constructed by the US and used by the Air Force and Air America during the Vietnam war. The town itself is a nice place to relax for a while, though it is the least authentic feeling place we stayed.
Since 1563, Vientiane has been the capital of Lao. It sits on the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and has been the economic centre of Laos since that time. There are still many decaying french buildings to be seen, giving parts of the city a charming feel.
New Hampshire Office
35 Alehson Street
Rye, NH 03870

California Office
622 Taylor Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501