row, row, row your boat

Last year, I attended the boat racing festival in Luang Prabang with Stathis, Grace, and Lara. The heat was staggering with an unrelenting sunshine and not enough bottled water for the hoards of people walking along the Nam Khan. 

This year was very different. There were less people in attendance and a cloud coverage helped keep the heat a "manageable" 87 degrees. However, if you know me you know that anything above "sweater and jeans" temperature is unbearable. So, yeah, I was still drenched by the end of the day. 

The heat was worth trudging through as it meant spending time as a group alongside our friend {and translator for the Women's Empowerment Project} and her little brother. They both joined us for the racing festivities.

Luke, who is incredibly paternal, took Mr. Lee to all the food stalls so that they could get the best prices on quail eggs, roasted peanuts, chestnuts, sausages, etc. The two men mostly just ate the entire festival, while us ladies took in the views of the races from a balcony at Joma Bakery over iced coffees underneath a fan. 

Because, we're fancy ladies. 

If you've never been to the Boat Racing Festival before, my advice is simple: stay hydrated, try the local cuisine, and snap lots of photos of the many strange things you will most definitely see.  It's an all day event with heaps of people-watching and market stalls. Also, bring cash for both the food and the carnival style games that line the riverside. 

The actual boat racing is mostly for fun. The day itself, however, marks a time of significance for Buddhists. Boon Hor Khao Badup Din, as it is called in Lao, marks a day when spirits can return to earth that don't have family. It's a day for those still living to make merits for those beings that have passed away that don't have family to help make merits for them, but I've written a separate post about giving alms earlier the morning of the races! 

I can't think of a better way to head into my birth month than by visiting the temple, watching men paddle long boats up the Nam Khan, and spending the whole day with a bunch of people I can't help but adore. 

September, I'm digging you so hard.