In Luang Prabang, Time Stands Still

Luang Prabang marches to the beat of an indifferent drummer. Nothing is rushed in this sleepy Lao hamlet where the somnolence is contagious and you can spot the new arrivals by the briskness of their gaits. On the streets, teenagers conduct confabulations on motorbikes—two or three abreast—scarcely going fast enough to remain vertical. Rheumy-eyed old timers lean on fences in the grip of some nameless torpor. Silent saffron parades of monks glide by, footsteps raising little puffs of dust, stooping now and then to solicit alms. Time creeps by. You imagine some indolent imp has fallen asleep inside your watch and...

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