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Phespirit goes to Laos
Vientiane & Luang Prabang     April 2007

AROUND LAOS

Map of Laos

1 Vientiane

Vientiane seems too low profile to be a capital city. Sure, it has a few grand temples and a scattering of historic monuments, but for the most part it is low-rise and entirely docile. Compared with the enormous metropolises of Bangkok and Hanoi - the capitals of its neighbours - it is little more than a sleepy provincial town.

Which is not to say it lacks modernity. Internet Cafés abound, for example, with good connectivity at good prices. Phespirit had half an hour online for the princely equivalent of twelve pence.

It's a nice place.

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2 Luang Prabang

At 31°C, Luang Prabang was 7°C cooler than Vientiane. This may have been due to the upper atmosphere being choked with smog, however. In this area, the slash-and-burn method of clearing trees for agriculture gilds the sky with a sickly grey and yellow miasma that hangs around until the rainy season comes.

Such foul grime is unbefitting for an ancient city that is otherwise happy, pretty, clean and at peace.

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3 Pak Ou

Two caves, shambolically filled with second-hand Buddha figures, are not particularly impressive in themselves, but it's all about the journey to get there - cruising along the Mekong River from Luang Prabang.

The village of Ban Pak Ou is situated opposite the entrance to the caves on the other side of the Mekong. Here, Phespirit stopped at the Mixayphon Restaurant for sweet and sour fish, boiled rice and a dessert of banana, pineapple and water melon.

The income generated by tourism permits the villagers of Ban Pak Ou to replace their traditional wooden homes with new ones made of bricks and mortar. They must be very happy .....

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4 Pakse

A twenty-minute stopover at Pakse was the unexpected hiatus in Phespirit's flight from Vientiane to Siem Reap.

To stretch his legs, Phespirit got off the ATP-72, wandered in and out of a barren transit lounge, and did a lap of the plane itself.

He took a couple of photographs, reboarded and left.

Goodbye Laos.

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  1. Vientiane
  2. Luang Prabang
  3. Pak Ou
  4. Pakse
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images 1
images 2
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Vientiane Luang Prabang Pak Ou Pakse