Meeting Asia is always a miracle. It's like slowly opening the jewellery box of the Arabian Nights. But despite the common name of the region, each country has its own unique face, character and treasures. And Laos fits the bill perfectly. Ancient monasteries and temples, unique traditions and culture, small nationalities and tribes living in the north of the country, small rural villages full of peace, mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes of stunning beauty.... It is impossible to list everything. And behind every word there is a whole world of feelings, impressions and discoveries. In my opinion, Laos is one of the most interesting countries in Southeast Asia. And in November we are going on another trip to this wonderful world.
The itinerary has been carefully thought out and designed so that we can get to know the different aspects of life in the country in a short space of time. We will travel in comfort from the south to the north. We will see ancient temples and talk to monks in monasteries, visit local schools and fish the old-fashioned way with fishermen on the banks of the Mekong, go boating on full-flowing rivers amidst stunning mountain scenery to meet remote people living in remote mountain villages. We will learn about the culture and history of the country, take part in an ancient monk feeding ceremony, learn how moonshine is made from rice and how clothes are woven, see how fruit and vegetables are grown and walk among the vast rice fields.
The trip, like all our trips, is designed for people who are interested not just in seeing the standard sights, but in immersing themselves in the life of the country, communicating with the people, seeing and feeling their lives. Physically, the trip is accessible to people of almost any age. There won't be any long walks. All travel is by comfortable transport. And the format of the trip avoids rushing and running from one place to another. Our motto: quality is more important than quantity, the opportunity to feel each place and, if you want to take interesting photos, your own history, is more important than the number of ticks in the list of attractions.
Day 1. Arrival in Vientiane, capital of Laos. Meeting. Transfer to the hotel. Introduction to the group. Walking and shooting in the city.
Day 2. Vientiane. We will fully immerse ourselves in the atmosphere of this wonderful city. Ancient temples sit next to cosy colonial buildings, noisy schools with numerous monasteries, restaurants and cafes are complemented by much more atmospheric and photogenic street food. We will definitely visit the most interesting and time-honoured places in the city, touch ancient temples and chat with monks, and at sunset the great Mekong awaits us - not just a river, but a living artery that feeds the life of the whole country. We will meet and shoot on the banks of the Mekong many more times. Even in the capital, there is always life on the banks: the poorer people come to cast their nets in the hope of catching dinner for their families, the richer to enjoy the wonderful views from the banks. You fall in love with Laos from the very first day, the sights, the smells, the feeling of a warm breeze on your skin, the smile of a monk and the mischievous eyes of children running by.
Day 3. We pile into our cars and set off for adventure. Today, the quaint and picturesque town of Vang Vieng awaits. Considered by many to be the most beautiful place in Laos. But first we will visit some temples and the famous Buddha Park, which has a large collection of Buddhist and Hindu statues. We will also see one of the largest and most beautiful lakes in Laos.
Day 4. In the morning we will be shooting not only in Vang Vieng, surrounded by rice fields and small villages leading a quiet, measured, meaningful rural life, but also in its surroundings. We will visit a very interesting cave with Buddha statues, which is considered sacred by the locals. We will climb a small hill from where we will have a wonderful view of the surrounding area. And only after we have enjoyed this place will we head further north - to Luang Prabang - the northern capital of the country. Of course, there will be many interesting stops and encounters along the way. This is possible thanks to the private transport we use to get around the country. And it is often these unplanned stops and encounters that turn out to be the most interesting.
Day 5. We continue our journey almost to the very north of the country, where the forests are thicker, the rivers fuller and life much the same as it was many years ago. On the way we plan to stop at monasteries to take photos and chat with the monks. Most of the monasteries in Laos are not very large, but very interesting. In addition to the standard Buddha images, there are often interesting scenes, both from Buddha's life and illustrations of his teachings. In a monastery there is always an older monk, who acts as a mentor and teacher, and some younger monks. Sometimes they are very young children. Some of them will probably return to worldly life, and some will dedicate their lives to the monastery and eventually become mentors and teachers themselves.
Day 6-7. We will stay in one of the small villages. Here we will spend two nights. The next day we go up the river by boat. You can't go further by car - there is no road. To get to these villages you can either walk a long time through the mountains on trails or, as we will do, along the river. But more interesting is the life in these remote villages, which have retained their unique atmosphere. It is a truly unique experience. In the villages we will meet the people who lived in Laos many years ago. Thanks to the boat we will be able to visit several remote villages in one day. And thanks to a local guide and interpreter, not only to see and take pictures, but also to interact and learn more about the lives of these people.
Day 8. Today we return to the northern capital of Laos - Luang Prabang. All the wonders of this incredible city await us, but first we visit the famous cave, sacred to the locals, containing thousands of Buddha images brought there over the years by countless pilgrims, on the high bank of the Mekong River. To get to the cave we will have to hire a boat and take it straight to the cave - or rather two caves - we will visit both. It is impossible to get to the caves without a boat. Apart from being a sacred place of pilgrimage, the caves also offer a beautiful view of the surrounding area. Apart from the caves, we also stop at a small village to see how the locals make wine and moonshine from rice. Not only to see, but also to taste if you wish.
Day 9. This day is dedicated to Luang Prabang - probably the most beautiful and atmospheric city in Laos. The huge school alone, built when Laos was a French colony and still retaining its atmosphere, deserves a lot of attention. Not to mention the many ancient temples and monasteries for which the city is so famous. So it is not surprising that our day will begin early in the morning with the ancient ceremony of feeding the monks, which is as ancient as Buddhism itself, and which you can not only photograph but also participate in.
Day 10. As part of the basic programme, our journey through Laos comes to an end. Last shooting in the city. Transfer to the airport. Return home.