Each morning a market pops up in a web of alleys off Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang's main street. This Southeast Asia UNESCO World Heritage town, tucked in the mountains on a peninsula between the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, rises early to greet the resident monks who walk through the streets at sunrise collecting alms.
By 7:00 am the monks have passed through and the market streets are filled with people buying fruits and vegetables, meats and spices, and sampling sausages, noodles, and banana leaf wrapped sweet rice parcels. Some vendors sell at tables, but most use bamboo mats and sheets on the sidewalk; business is conduced at a crouch.
Tiny Laos eggplants, purple banana flowers and curly green vegetables, grown nearby, might be the salad of the day at a local restaurant, and the fruit becomes breakfast at the many guesthouses on the peninsula. Between the fresh items are dried buffalo skin (a regional snack) and chili peppers, rice flour crisps, traditional sarongs, and local handicrafts.
A covered butcher section in the middle of the market offers everything from pig's snouts to fresh blood cakes, and just-caught river fish look like they're about to swim right off the table. Freshly plucked chickens are for sale, and for people who want to choose their own bird, there are baskets of live poultry.
By noon the market has vanished—all that's left are a handful of tomatoes and eggplants that have rolled away.
Check out the slideshow for a further look into the morning markets of Luang Prabang.
About the Author: Jennifer Kikoler is a writer and editor who spent fall 2012 volunteering at a youth outreach NGO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She blogs at jenniferkikoler.wordpress.com.