City of good karma
Updated: 2013-12-22 13:38
By Wu Liping (China Daily)
Phousi Hill is located in the central area of Luang Prabang City. Its peak offers a panoramic view of the city and the Khan River. Photos by Wu Liping / China Daily
It is a historical city surrounded by a beautiful natural cradle of green. Its people are contented. Their lives are simple and honest, and they feel blessed to be where they are. Wu Liping visits Luang Prabang in Laos.
Those who are born and bred in Luang Prabang City say they enjoy the good karma of doing good in their previous lives. Their city is an ancient one with a history of more than a thousand years, and is surrounded by a picturesque landscape of verdant mountains and an ecologically sound environment.
Nestled on the valley floor along the Mekong River, it was the royal capital until 1975, when the Laotian people gained independence from the monarchy. It is a city with ancient architecture, the more modern of which boasts French colonial influences from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The weather is pleasant, with temperatures hovering around 20 C in the day even during the coldest season. The folk customs are simple and honest. Smiling faces are everywhere.
Above all these secular features, this is a city of Buddhism, with more than 50 big temples and monasteries, and where almost every male citizen spends some time experiencing monastic life. More than 90 percent of its people are Buddhists.
Luang Prabang was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 and is regarded as one of the most livable cities in the world.
We start our journey from Vientiane, the current capital of Laos, on an early morning in late November.
About 500 kilometers north, we reach the mountains, where the road is circuitous and sometimes bumpy. At dusk, it turns foggy and then drizzles, making the 8-hour journey another two hours longer. In the next two days, however, we are glad we persevered as we are rewarded with unexpected experiences.
Luang Prabang City is the capital of Luang Prabang Province, which is the core area of the north of the country, says Khamdua Yiakuanoheuvang, vice-secretary of the Provincial Party Committee of Luang Prabang Province.