Where the heck are you going?

Here's the planned itinerary, from the trip web page:


We will all arrive in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, in time for a meet-and-greet dinner to finally get to know each other in person and an orientation to discuss our itinerary and events for our shared adventure. We will also participate in one of Laos’ oldest traditions—the Baci. The Baci ceremony, which is a mix of Animist and Buddhist beliefs, calls escaped spirits back to the body. It is something that is considered to be very important before major events like weddings, births, travel, welcoming friends, and farewells.


Vientiane is one of the quietest capital cities in the world. It’s a great place to wander along the bank of the Mekong River, which will be a nearly constant landmark during our adventure in Laos. We will spend the day photographing at the serene temples of Wat Sisaket and Wat Phra Keo. We will also visit COPE, an association working to help land-mine victims, and the Buddhist stupa Pha That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. We will photograph until the sun sets across the Mekong.

OUDOMXAY (Day Three)

After breakfast we will head to Wattay International Airport for our flight to Oudomxay in northwest Laos. We will visit and photograph some of the many different ethnic minority hill tribes living in villages in the hills around Oudomxay. This will be a great opportunity to work on creating some unforgettable portraits.

PAKBENG (Day Four)

On our way to Pakbeng, we will drive through the mountains, stopping at another minority village and for lunch in Udom Xai, where we will climb to the summit of Phou That. The ride from here to Pakbeng will be along small mountainous roads with little traffic. We will overnight at the Lao-style Pakbeng Lodge, which is perched on the hillside overlooking the Mekong River. The view is stunning.

MEKONG (Day Five)

After breakfast, we will travel by boat on the Mekong River to the Kamu Lodge at Ban Gno Hay village. In the early morning, fog and low clouds often hug the mountains that plunge to the edge of the river. As we cruise down the Mekong, we will observe the daily activities of life along the river, which plays an incredibly important role in the lives of those who live near the river. Our accommodation here, the Kamu Lodge, is a luxury ecolodge on the banks of the Mekong River. It is in the Lao jungle with a nearby village and is full of photographic opportunities. One can even take a break and get a massage on a bamboo veranda over the Mekong River or just sit and discuss photography in a thatch-covered seating area in the middle of a rice paddy.


We will spend the morning exploring the Kamu village and visiting with the local residents. After lunch at the Lodge we will depart by boat for Luang Prabang, stopping en route at the Pak Ou Caves. The two caves, locally called Tam Ting, contain thousands of gold-lacquered Buddha statues, ranging in size from a few centimeters to human size. The caves are a destination for local pilgrimages. If time permits we will also stop at Ban Xang Hay before arriving in Luang Prabang, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995, recognized as the best preserved city in Southeast Asia.

Set on a peninsula where the Mekong and the Khan rivers meet, and surrounded by misty green mountains, Luang Prabang was a kingdom from the 14th century until the Lao monarchy was dissolved in 1975. The old city is rightly famous for its historic temples, more than 30 monasteries, and for its splendid Royal Palace. There are lovely old French-Indochinese colonial houses and two-story shop houses featuring both French and Lao architectural influences.

Walking around Luang Prabang is a joy. Several of the streets are shaded with palms and flowering trees, sweeping, gilded temple roofs can be glimpsed every few yards, colorful prayer flags flutter in the breeze and temple gongs echo around the town. The local residents are friendly, smiling, and often love to just chat for a bit.


At first light of the morning we will photograph the procession of monks as they receive their alms of sticky rice. This beautiful Buddhist tradition of exchanging sustenance for merit is worth the effort to rise with the roosters and the ringing of temple drums. Those wishing to offer the monks rice instead of photographing will be able to do so. Those photographing will keep a respectful distance. As the alms ceremony winds down we will have our own breakfast before exploring the seemingly limitless number of beautiful wats (temples) in Luang Prabang, including the spectacular Wat Xieng Thong. In late afternoon we will climb Mount Phousi for a beautiful sunset view of the city and the Mekong River. In the evening we can explore the handmade textiles of the local and hill-tribe ethnic groups at the night market.


After breakfast we will cross the Mekong and explore Wat Long Khoun and the other far less-visited wats along the opposite bank of the Mekong. In the afternoon, we will make an excursion to the Kuangsi Waterfall where we can practice some long-exposures and even go for a swim.


Today we will head out of Luang Prabang to the Elephant Village Sanctuary. Those who wish to do so will be able to ride the elephants and receive basic Mahout training. Our priority here, however, will be to photograph the elephants as the Mahout ride, train, and wash them in the river. Time permitting, we will take a traditional long tail boat to visit and photograph Tad Sae Waterfall.


After breakfast we will say our goodbyes to those not continuing on to the Angkor Extension, while those continuing will fly from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap in Cambodia.

Sounds pretty OK, I have to say.