High in the mist-shrouded mountains of northern Laos, cut through by the Mekong river, is Luang Prabang, a remote town of glittering Buddhist temples and barefoot monks. The natural setting of the town, on a promontory by the river, encircled by an amphitheatre of steep, verdant mountains enhances its jewel-like identity. Luang Prabang is a treasure trove of sacred art dating from the 17th century. There are 33 Buddhist temples, carved from wood, exquisitely frescoed and gilded, with layered roofs sweeping to the ground. Interiors are adorned with Buddha images of serene grace and dignity. With the arrival of the French colonisers in the 19th century came a secular architectural tradition. In Luang Prabang, the fusion of these two disparate cultures resulted in a singular beauty. Book jacket.