Kimberly and I took Al and Chip with us to Laos. We chose Laos because Chip served a Hmong mission in Minnesota. He's a great lover of all things Hmong, but had never seen where the Hmong actually came from.
Here we are going to Vientiene. Kimberly's reading a mystery novel set in 1970s Laos (coroner's lunch by colin cotterel; super duper good. highly recommend. even if you are not in laos. it is a series of 5. and i just ran across this... an interview with the author from when we were in laos...awesome!), Chip's reading some whack fantasy book, and Al's apparently confused about where the plane is going, and is reading the Cambodia Lonely Planet.
Our first night in Laos, we saw the Victory Gate of Vientiane. It was built with cement that the Americans sent to Laos to build an airport runway. It's inspired by the Arc d'Triomphe, and while Vientiene is no Paris, the city is kinda third-world-charming. Equpit with the tuk-tuk driver who decided to charge us $5 to drive around the corner...ugh!
this picture of our hotel pool is included b/c the bottom was so shiny that it was like swimming over a mirror. Great for assessing your stroke form.
Another butchered English translation that basically gets the job done.
Vientiene, for all its European colonial charms, wasn't what we came to see. We're off to Luang Prabang, where the royal family of Laos used to live, and where Hmong dwell in the hills. Luang Prabang is the only place in the world where the entire city is a World Heritage Site. It is amazing. The most serene place I have ever been. There are temples ever 100 yards. The river rises and falls in an beautiful rhythm.
Alex Douglas wore his proselyting clothes our entire trip. He took his tag off in Laos b/c missionaries don't proselytize there and he didn't want to get in trouble.
Some Ugandan member of the Church actually stopped him in Vientiane and asked him where the church was. He told us he had to get out of Thailand because his visa had run out and he was hanging out in Laos hoping to get another visa. It was taking a really long time, and he really missed church. It was after the feeling of blah that came with telling him there was no church in Laos that Alex decided to remove the tag.
What a crazy world we live in, with Mormon Ugandans hanging out in Vientiane???