December 19, 2002
Like most newlyweds, Amy and I wanted to spend our honeymoon somewhere tropical and relaxing where we could get great food and spend a lot of time in the outdoors. Instead of going to Hawaii, though, traveling by river to the northernmost frontier of Laos seemed more like our kind of thing. So, we booked tickets to Luang Prabang, hung out with the novice monks, spent nearly a week exploring the Nam Ou river, trekked out to remote villages, drank a lot of Beerlao, and to top it off, spent a few days exploring the culinary mecca that is Bangkok.
Virtually untouched by tourism (though that is changing), Laos is a serene, isolated country that has seen an incredible amount of violence and upheaval in the last three decades. Still, the people are amazingly friendly, the natural scenery is breathtaking, and the local culture unaffected by the rapid development seen elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Laos is decidedly low-key. Even Vientiane, the capital and largest city, is a ramshackle little town compared to Nong Khai, across the river in Thailand. Although a couple of places, like Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, have a fair number of tourists wandering about, overall we encountered almost no foriegners - and in the remote northern reaches of Phongsali were the only ones around. Probably our most singular experience in Laos was sitting on the steps of a small temple in Muang Khoua at sunset, chatting with a young monk about his life, his family, and the finer points of Theravada Buddhism.
Click on any of the pictures below to read a description, or just follow the "next" links from each page for a slideshow. Clicking on any of the images will display a very high-resolution image. All of these photos are Copyright (c) 2002 by Matt Welsh and Amy Bauer. If you'd like to use any of these pictures for any reason, just contact me at the email address above!