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Young Monks Chanting on New Year's in a temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

New Years in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang (meaning Royal Buddha Image) is a beautiful old town– and former capital– in northern Laos— one of the prettiest in Southeast Asia. Revered for its architecture, temples, and cultural significance, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The surrounding countryside has many beautiful landscapes (like the Quang Si waterfalls) and ethnic villages. The mighty Mekong River and Nam Khan river converge there, making it a city with many waterways — and boat rides.

Time To Celebrate

It was New Year’s Eve (12/31/16) and the Prabangians were being good sports about it. They had a stage with performers dancing and singing all night and a fireworks show planned for midnight. In the meantime, Daisey and I decided to bar hop and snack along the way. Daisey, starting the day off right, had already (and bravely) drank a shot of snake liquor. We moseyed down the strip in the old town, eating and drinking, edging ever closer to midnight.

A hard liquor made from snakes, centipedes, salamanders, berries, and more.
A hard liquor made from snakes, centipedes, salamanders, berries, and more.

Approaching Midnight

Finally, the bewitching hour approached, and we headed down the street to catch the fireworks show. Before we got there though, we saw a large crowd gathered in and around a Buddhist temple we had visited only the day before. Luang Prabang has many temples and monasteries. We wandered over and there were hundreds of monks and laypersons chanting. It was astoundingly powerful. Completely captivating.

A dog sleeps at he doorway as young monks chant
A dog sleeps at the doorway as young monks chant

Brotherly Love

Edging ever closer to the temple doors, the prayers wash over us. The distant fireworks bursting forth were barely noticeable. We did not regret our decision to go to the temple instead. We felt blessed to ring in the new year at the temple. Finally, as we begun to leave, in the departing crowd in the courtyard, someone said to me: Happy New Year Brother.

I never saw who said it, but I thought to myself, “It certainly is!”

Author: Britt

Britt is a photographer/music producer & proud member of #teamtraynham

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