There's something special in the air in Luang Prabang. There's a distinct feeling of calm and the people are all smiles. They know that they don't have the cache of their surrounding neighbors: they are land-locked by Thailand, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia and maybe it's because they don't seem to be competing that makes you realize they already know how special their home is. It could also be their adherence to Theravada Buddhism (as opposed to Mahayana which is practiced mainly in the surrounding countries) that stands out. Theravada is an earlier, and according to its followers, a less corrupted school of Buddhism which is found in East Asia and the Himalayas. It's not uncommon to pass a saffron covered monk walking briskly around the temple doing chores, for example.
The view from the plane as you fly into Laos might be some of the most gorgeous scenery I've ever seen. The huge mountains look like they are covered with emerald fur and the Me Kong river cuts paths through the jungle in graceful swoops.
While we were in Laos we took a full day to travel deep into the countryside where the ethnic hill tribes live. These are some of the poorest people in Laos (and quite possibly the world) and Matt and distributed books, drawing pads, and writing implements to any groups of kids we could find. The experience was humbling and touched us both deeply - we hope to host a fundraiser in Dubai to support programs doing more work with these children in the near future. In the meantime I'm sure the pictures of their faces will stick with you as they did with us.