I learned that Luang Prabang is one of the loveliest places in the world. Everywhere I went, I was surrounded by natural beauty...
As well as man-made artistry.
I also learned that Luang Prabang, and Laos as a whole, is one of the poorest places in the world.
Even though UNESCO is throwing money at them for the "Cultural Survival Project", majority of the people of Laos don't have access to health care and clean water. And in a place like Luang Prabang which is rapidly developing as a tourist destination, the cost of living is rising beyond the local residents' reach.
As I ate my chicken laap, fried fish, sticky rice and caramel flan during my Bangkok Airways flight out of Luang Prabang International Airport, I thought about my plane ticket which cost US$330 round trip to visit a place where the people make do with barely a dollar a day. No, I didn't feel guilty. I just felt very, very lucky.