Life is amazing when things happen by surprise. Stumbling into a festival that you did not know about, or being in New York City for New years eve, and having no idea that it was a holiday or a giant party. It makes the experience that much more memorable.
We strolled into Luang Prabang after a long 2 day boat ride down the Mekong river. We arrived late in the day, at dusk, wary and sore from sitting on a wooden deck for 20 hours. We quickly found a guest house, took a shower, and crashed for the night.
The next morning we awoke, and walked out into one of the most interesting, unexpected places I will ever have been to. The royal city, in the heart of Laos, was a french colonial post nearly a century ago. The french influence is palpable. The architecture mirrors that of a small european city. However, the scattering of ancient Buddhist temples, with classic sweeping roofs sets the area apart from anything in Europe.
The twist to this place. We just happen, by complete coincidence, are here for the Laos New Year. On of there more celebrated holidays in all of Asia. The coolest part about the celebration, is how they celebrate it.
I tried to have someone explain where the tradition came from, but could never get and explanation I could understand. But the entire country, and most all of Thailand have a giant week long water fight to usher in the new year.
Mostly young people, usually children and teenage kids sit along the roadside with squirt guns and large trash can size buckets of water dousing traffic and anyone on a bike scooter or car. In the height of the hot dry season I cannot think of a more fitting celebration or party.
We rented bikes for the day for 50 cents, and road around the town exploring some of the streets and temples. We got soaked as we road by pre new years celebration and buckets of water. We stopped by a local toy shop and picked up 2 water glocks.
In the night we went to magical street markets and ate cheap meals in an alley full of food stalls.
We met up with some friends from the slow boat on our last night in town and went to a amazing resort bar that had a pit type beach volley ball net, large bamboo terrace and jungle surrounds, a great way to end our stay in a magical city.