The Ambience of Laos: WPC

“Without atmosphere, a painting is nothing.”




This week my good friend, artist Jane Iwan, did a post featuring a painting she had done from one of my photographs. Check it out at her site, Jane Iwan Studio.  My original photograph is shown above.  Jane’s comment, that it feels like stepping back to a different moment in time, captured my sentiments perfectly.



“The past become a texture, an ambience to our present.”

Paul Scott

Laos’  history is replete with feuds, warfare and painful treatment of its people.  In recent times although the US supported Laos, it is said they suffered some of the worst bombing in the history of warfare as we attempted to destroy the Ho Chi Minh trail, a primary Communist supply route primarily located in Laos. Based on their history, it is no wonder their focus is on a simpler life of appreciation for family, freedom and basic necessities.



Light creates ambience and feel of a place, as well as the expression of structure.”

Le Corbusier

Our visit to Laos was part of a much larger trip to Southeast Asia, a fascinating world so different from our own.  The sights and smells of Bangkok, the wonder of Angkor Wat, the beauty of Ha Long Bay, the dichotomy of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) vs Hanoi and so many other fascinating experiences all helped us to understand and appreciate the people and places we’d only seen in books.



“Let us drown in the delicious ambience of love.”


We saw some beautiful hotels and delicately scrolled ironwork, remnants of Laos’  time as a French Colony. Luang Prabang, the country’s capital city prior to the Communist takeover, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its architecture and its preservation of Laotian heritage. It is also known as a Buddhist religious center. Each morning at dawn, hundreds of monks walk the streets of the city collecting alms – an amazing experience.



“Ambience is an unstudied grace – the grace of human dignity.”

William Pahlmann

Luang Prabang is considered by many to represent the heart of Laotian culture. Surrounded by mountains and located along the Mekong River, it is considered one of the most beautiful spots in Southeast Asia, and is one of their premier tourist destinations. A leisurely boat ride down the Mekong helped us to appreciate the Laotians whose lives revolve around the river – fishing, boating or farming the shoreline.



“The magnificent ambience of love will inevitably leave its seal.”

B.F. Davis

Finally, although my predominant memories of Laos were of a land of rather muted colors, it was in one of their night markets that I took one of my favorite photographs ever. The display of colorful umbrellas spoke to me of pure joy.  It is one of the few photographs I’ve framed in my own home, and makes me smile every time I look at it. What could be better than that?


71 thoughts on “The Ambience of Laos: WPC

  1. A wonderful and fascinating post, Tina! The umbrella photo at the end has my heart singing with joy – it’s just glorious and I’m not surprised you have it up on your wall! 😀 What an amazing country, so varied, you bring it to life so well.

  2. this entire post makes me smile😘 these are some of my very favorite shots…just so charming…what a GREAT eye!!!
    thanks for sharing!

  3. Beautiful captures, Tina. I appreciate the fact that you started the post with a brief introduction of the checkered past of the region. I’ve come to realise how little I know about the world. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks 2BF! I find it helpful when I travel to know something about the destination. Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were real eye-openers for me. We tend to believe what we are fed and seeing those countries through the eyes of its people was quite educational. As usual, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

      Sent from my iPhone


  4. There sure is something about Laos, its colors and its people, that is soooo enticing and photogenic. The atmosphere there feels different and one just learns to take it easy if they didn’t know before.
    Great pictures, Tina, it felt like going back again… I loved Laos so much…

  5. Pingback: Ambience: Tree | What's (in) the picture?

  6. Tina, this is such a perfect breath of fresh-tropic air for me today ~ wonderful series and you bring the ambiance of Laos into my office this morning. The opening photo is a great one to set the stage, but it is your through the looking glass photo that delivers me to this oasis 🙂 Your photos and words makes me wish I was in SE Asia right now – the snow and cold outside also playing a factor in this feeling as well 🙂 Wishing you a great New Year and a great week ahead. Take care!

    • Thanks so much Randall – hope your new adventure surpasses your greatest expectations, but that it does no t get in the way of your blog!! No surprise this one appealed to one such as you, a true student of the ambience and culture of the East. >

  7. It really is such a beautiful array of umbrellas. Bursting vivid colors 😊 Also, Me Corbusier! Sometimes light appears when it appears, like how the umbrellas seemed go appear out of no where for you. Sounds like Laos are rich in history, and they want to keep history that way, what with making a living by the water, river and all. If they like to live life simple, they live life simple. 😊

  8. Superb images Tina, a place I am not likely to visit so I have enjoyed the journey with you. And the umbrella image must be fabulous on your wall. Such vibrancy it must make you smile whenever you pass by.
    (I also prefer the subtle changes you have made to your theme colour – the charcoal background and pale grey text is perfect.)

  9. When I think of this area, I don’t think vibrant colors and yet this post is filled with my favorite orange… love those umbrellas, and of course the monks … oh yes and of course, the Looking Glass…

  10. Tina … THANK YOU seems like small words for what I’m feeling as I write my comment. You’ve taken me on a journey
    to a place that I will never get to visit. Your photographs tell a touching story as do your words. There’s a gentle sadness
    in seeing the young monk. All of the photographs are outstanding but, like you, my favorite is the one with the umbrella’s.
    I’m happy you chose to share these photos with us and your experiences. Happy Sunday …
    Isadora 😎

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