The Lights of Luang Prabang

Near the top of Phousi Hill in Downtown Luang Prabang

At the hostel in Kunming, while laying on a bunk in a cramped dorm room full of Frenchman, I closed my eyes and earnestly tried to catch some rest. When I finally rolled off, I fell into a vivid dream.

It was a very Midwestern scene.

I was running around in an open grass field with people I didn’t know. There was a forest far off in the distance, and a group of houses a hundred yards or so behind us. The sky was cloudless and blue-grey in color.

While running deeper into the open field, a strange craft appeared thousands of feet above.

It was metallic silver and in the shape of a disc.

Looking upwards, I was paralyzed by pure astonishment. As I gazed at the craft, it suddenly began to lower towards the ground as though it was attempting a landing. In response, I, along with the strangers around me, took off running in the opposite direction towards the houses.

I woke up.

Upon doing so, my ears were greeted with Darth Vader like gasping sounds as the six plus Frenchmen in the dorm were conducting a snoring symphony. In fact, the snoring was so loud, it was hard to believe that I was able to doze off into such a deep sleep where a dream of such quality was able to manifest.

Pondering the dream, there wasn’t a sense of fear or loathing but one of wonder and fascination. The realness was uncanny. What did this mean? At the moment, I figured; nothing.

I slept uneasily until 6am. I packed my backpack and trudged downstairs to the kitchen. I ordered a cab to take me to the airport.

Two days prior, I had bought a cheap flight to Luang Prabang, Laos.

I elected to fly after hearing some not so encouraging stories about the bus trip into Laos, from a German expat living in Jinghong, only days trip away from the Laos border.

“You go through bandit country and theres lots of ornery workers. Ive rarely heard of a trip without incident.” He told me over a beer on a balcony of a bar in the Xishuangbanna Prefecture Capital city of Jinghong, a few days prior to my flight.

I boarded a small plane with very few passengers. I was leaving a communist realm for another, though in this one, I would have easy and free internet access.

Upon arriving in the People’s Republic of Lao, I quickly began to take in the beauty of a city that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The tall green and jungle covered mountains. Buddhist Temples pitched on hiltops and monks of all ages walking the streets, Luang Prabang clearly had a much slower pace of life than China.

Kuang Si Falls

Taking a Tuk Tuk (a vehicle that essentially a motorcycle and trailer hitched together) from the airport to the hostel, was a clear indication that I had arrived in Southeast Asia, as these vehicles are staples of transportation in the region.

The landscape reminded me of something out of Jurassic Park which would be further reinforced when I would later travel to the mountainous and adventurer’s paradise city of Vang Veing.

The feeling of being in an ancient place was as strong as it was welcoming. But the central part of the city of Luang Prabang was lined with old French colonial buildings, that were a clear reminder of Laos’ not so distant past, in which the Lao people were under colonial rule.

I enjoyed exploring the city, the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls and more of the surrounding area over the next better part of a week. I made good friends with a couple of English travelers and was introduced to the freedom of cheap motorbike rentals.

Luang Prabang Night Market on Chaofa Ngum rd

Despite being so impressed with the landscape, culture and overall atmosphere of Luang Prabang, it would be neither of those aspects that I recall first when thinking of the UNESCO capital city. Instead, I recall something far stranger that occurred on one of my last nights in the city while siting river side at the Renowned Utopia bar and restaurant.

It was a warm night with clear skies and I had just finished eating a not to special plate of chicken and rice. I was sitting on one of the comfort mats that the restaurant provided for those who wished to sit on the patio overlooking the Nam Khan River. I was enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and not focused on, nor thinking about anything of rather relative importance. I titled my head back to gaze up at the sky when my attention was caught by something that should not have been up there. I focused my eyes as I continued to follow what appeared to be a translucent object. As my eyes continued to track it and my awareness adjusted, I saw three faint lights in triangle configuration, forming a three sided craft in which the body of it appeared to be semitransparent. It occurred to me pretty quickly that this was no ordinary aircraft, nor had I ever seen anything close to being like it.

It seemed to be far up in the atmosphere, most likely much higher than the cruising altitude of commercial planes. The craft took on shadowy and dreamlike qualities that added to my growing astonishment.

I suddenly looked down and began looking at all the restaurant patrons. No body else appeared to be gazing at the sky or talking about something in a frantic manner.

“Am I the only one who is seeing this?” I thought.

Suddenly my attention was redirected to the conversation of two North American girls and an English guy sitting a few feet behind me.

“Yeah, I have always wondered about Aliens.” I heard the English bloke mutter.

“There has to be some other life out there!” one of the girls exclaimed.

‘They’re fucking talking about Aliens?’

I looked back up at the star speckled sky. Almost immediately I saw two other craft of the exact same description as the first, gliding across the atmosphere. Their translucent qualities nearly camouflaged their presence and I watched them, transfixed, until they drifted out of sight.

I again looked down and looked over the faces in the bar and restaurant. There did not seem to be any talk, a looking upwards or any movements, gestures, etc, to suggest that someone else had witnessed what I had just seen.

I turned to the group of three behind me.

“Hey guys, I couldn’t help but hear you guys talking about aliens, Did any of you just see a strange craft up in the sky?”

There was a few seconds pause.

They chuckled. “haha what? Are you saying you just saw a UFO up above us here?”

“UFO’s. Plural. I just randomly looked up and saw the three most bizarre aircraft I had ever seen. They were almost, kind of see-through with–” I went on to describe them in detail.

There was a long silence. They looked at me with half cocked smiles.

“Did you take a shroom shake earlier Mate?”

“No! hell no.” I said frantically.

“I am completely sober. I swear I saw it. I don’t know what it was. I saw the first one and then suddenly I hear you guys behind me talking about Aliens.”

Again they laughed.

“That’s weird!” the Cockney said.

“But we didn’t see anything. We’re just high as fuck mate.”

2 thoughts on “The Lights of Luang Prabang

    1. No I went to xishuangbanna! I spent a month there and loved it! I just couldn’t stomach the bus ride down to laos from there. Also it’s to bad because I don’t think as an American we’ll ever be able to go back there. At least not for awhile

Leave a Reply