I slipped on a banana peel walking home from the internet cafe. I’m not sure if this has ever happened to anyone in the past century who was not a cartoon or a vaudvillian with a handle bar mustache. There are little bananas everywhere. They are the perfect size. By the time you get to the end of a regular banana you’re just about sick of the mealy yellowness, but these are the most perfect three-bite snacks. Unless you happen to slip on one. Banana trees are ubiquitous here, but according to Jillian, our archaeobotanist, the trees we see in the jungle are not domesticated. The only part of those trees that are edible are the giant purple flowers that hang like over sized Christmas ornaments tossed out of the top of the tree. Nouphan also pointed out avacado, papaya, and orange trees. Also while we were coming back from the last hike, Phou pointed up at a tiny green ball hanging from a tree and said, “Baby jack fruit.”
Kathleen also came back from a hike to the village of Luong Kwai with a picture of a teak tree farm which I now recognize to be all over the place.
The streets and alleyways of Luang Prabang are crowded with plants, potted, hanging, and otherwise. We were descending Mount Phousi when I recognized several of them as office plants. Snake plants, rubber trees, acuba, philadendhron. All plants you find in your everyday cubicle under fluorescent lamps. Of course, you’ll also see giant sprays of bougambilla, cock’s comb and semper vitae, a bunch of varieties of begonia, and even poinsettia trees, lantana, 4 o’clocks, caladium, bee balm, and believe it or not… coleus and impatiens!