As soon as we saw the line of noisy Chinese tourist caravans parked at the base of Mount Phousi in Luang Prabang, Laos, we knew it wasn’t for us. As an alternative, we took a 5,000 kip ($0.60 USD) passenger ferry across the Mekong to Ban Xieng Maen and followed the brick footpath until we reached the nagas and 123 steps for Wat Chomphet. The crumbling temple dates to 1888 and remains a work in progress. An ancient monk and two novices were laying bricks as we explored the windowless hull, alone save for a couple of grizzled French tourists. There were holes in the ceiling, black mold climbing the walls, and fragments of colored glass where grand mosaics were once plastered. Yet this tiny temple, so much smaller and less ornate than the ones in Old Town, sets out coffee and snacks for its visitors—something we didn’t see anywhere else. Donations are welcome; “follow your heart” says the sign in English, Lao, Chinese, French, and Korean. The views up here—of the peninsula, the river, and the mountains—are outstanding, especially if you time your visit to the setting of the sun.