Luang Prabang, the former royal capital, is being developed as a tourist destination by the very government that killed off the royal family. If this strikes you as a little cynical, well, welcome to the club.
MEKONG RIVER—If the first day leaving Chiang Mai was somewhat leisurely, the morning of the second day seemed almost frantic. Well, as frantic as life gets in northern Thailand—which is to say, it’s still remarkably laid back. The owner of the guesthouse gently knocked on our doors at 7 a.m., but I had already, Read More
“A good place to understand the present, and to ask questions about the future, is on the ground, traveling as slowly as possible.” —Robert Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography (2012)
CHIANG KHONG, Thailand—I could say the day started bright and early, but that would be a lie. It started at a reasonable 10 a.m. with a pickup by the tour company I’d contracted to take me to Chiang Khong on the border with Laos, where tomorrow I will cross over and take a “slow, Read More
So I’m back in Chiang Mai, the charming little town that anchors northern Thailand, but tomorrow I head further north, past Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong/Huay Xai, where I’ll catch a “slow boat” down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, the royal capital of the Kingdom of Laos until the communists swept through in 1975 and renamed the whole country the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. I confess, I know next to nothing about Laos, but everyone says the place is beautiful and laid back. I do know they make a tasty beer there, and that the country’s short name, “Lao PDR” generally means “Laos, Please Don’t Rush.”