My thoughts of Lao…..

This country is AMAZING. The people are genuinely friendly, the stall holders will say hello even when you are just passing. This is a genuine hello and not hello…..expecting you to stop and buy something.

The country is just raw. Nothing is commercialised, it is sad because you just know the big companies will be coming here…..

We loved visiting the school with Big Brother Mouse and seeing the children’s faces light up when they received a book……what we take for granted……some of the children have never seen a book or do not know how to handle it. The Big Brother Mouse taught the children to respect and handle the book with care.

I really want to come back to Lao, but am saddened to think that when we do return it will be totally commercialised and full of tourist…..tourist who want to visit the big chains!

This is a great place as well…..!

This is a great place as well…..!

Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, situated on the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion. During French rule, Vientiane was the administrative capital and, due to economic growth in recent times, it has now become the economic centre of Laos.
The estimated population of the city is 754,000 (2009). The city hosted the 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009 celebrating the 50 years of SEA Games.

Our hotel
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A temple opposite our hotel
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Presidential palace
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Wat Sisaket in Vientiane
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As the temple was closed for lunch we also decided to go for lunch
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Vegetarian in the Golden Age
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Buffet for 25,000 kip
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We recommend getting there early as the food will taste fresh and will be hot

Afterwards we walked back to the temple
Dec 30, 2012 1:33 PM

I misread the entrance fee instead of 5,000 kip I read 50,000 kip. We took out way too much money!

Dec 30, 2012 1:26 PM

Walking through a mall
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Back outside the temperature was a mild 26 degrees C
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Back to Wat Sisaket in VIentiane
Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist wat in Vientiane, Laos. It is situated on Lan Xang Road, on the corner with Setthathirat Road, to the northwest of Haw Phra Kaew, which formerly held the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Si Saket was built in 1818 on the orders of King Anouvong (Sethathirath V.) Si is derived from the Sanskrit title of veneration Sri, prefixed to the name of Wat Saket in Bangkok, which was renamed by Anouvong’s contemporary, King Rama I. Wat Si Saket was built in the Siamese style of Buddhist architecture, with a surrounding terrace and an ornate five-tiered roof, rather than in the Lao style. This may have kept it safe as the armies of Siam that sacked Vientiane in 1827 used the compound as their Headquarters and lodging place. It may now be the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. The French restored Wat Si Saket in 1924 and again in 1930.
Wat Si Saket features a cloister wall with more than 2000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. The temple also houses a museum.

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Next was Haw Phra Kaew which was built between 1565 and 1556, on the orders of King Setthathirath. The temple housed the Emerald Buddha figurine, which Setthathirath had brought from Chiang Mai, then the capital of Lanna, to Luang Prabang. When Vientiane was seized by Siam (now Thailand) in 1778, the figurine was taken to Thonburi and the temple was destroyed. After it was rebuilt by King Annouvong of Vientiane in the 19th century, it was again destroyed by Siamese forces when King Annouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to regain full independence. The revered Buddha now resides in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok. The temple was rebuilt for a third time by the French between 1936 and 1942, during colonization of French Indochina.

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Looking out to the gardens the temple is behind us
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We took a tuk tuk to Pha That Luang (‘Great Stupa’) is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane, Laos. Since its initial establishment suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions until the 1930s due to foreign invasions to the area. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.

Pha That Luang according to the Lao people was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 3rd century. Buddhist missionaries from the Mauryan Empire are believed to have been sent by the Emperor Ashoka, including Bury Chan or Praya Chanthabury Pasithisak and five Arahata monks who brought a holy relic (believed to be the breast bone) of Lord Buddha to the stupa. It was rebuilt in the 13th century as a Khmer temple which fell into ruin.
In the mid-16th century, King Setthathirat relocated his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and ordered construction of Pha That Luang in 1566. It was rebuilt about 4 km from the centre of Vientiane at the end of That Luang Road and named Pha That Luang. The bases had a length of 69 metres each and was 45 metres high, and was surrounded by 30 small Stupas.
In 1641, a Dutch envoy of the Dutch East India Company, Gerrit van Wuysoff, visited Vientiane and was received by King Sourigna Vongsa at the temple, where he was, reportedly, received in a magnificent ceremony. He wrote that he was particularly impressed by the “enormous pyramid and the top was covered with gold leaf weighing about a thousand pounds”. However, the stupa was repeatedly plundered by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese.
Pha That Luang was destroyed by the Thai invasion in 1828, which left it heavily damaged and left abandoned. It was not until 1900, when the French restored to its original design based on the detailed drawings from 1867 by the French architect and explorer Louis Delaporte. However the first attempt to restore it was unsuccessful and it had to be redesigned and then reconstructed in the 1930s. During Franco-Thai war Pha That Luang was heavily damaged from Thais air raid. After the End of World War II Pha That Luang has been newly reconstruction.

The architecture of the building includes many references to Lao culture and identity, and so has become a symbol of Lao nationalism. The stupa today consists of three levels, each conveying a reflection of part of the Buddhist doctrine. The first level is 223 feet (67 metres) by 226 feet (68 metres), the second is 157 feet (47 metres) along each side and the third level is 98 feet (29 metres) along each side. From ground to pinniacle, Pha That Luang is 147.6 feet (44 metres) high.

The area around Pha That Luang is now gated, to keep traffic out. Previously visitors could drive around the whole complex. The encircling walls are roughly 279 feet (85 metres) long on each side and contain a large number of Lao and Khmer sculptures including one of Jayavarman VII.

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Patuxai (literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, formerly the Anousavary or Anosavari Monument, known by the French as Monument Aux Morts) is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane, Laos, which was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. In romanising the name from the Laotian language, it is variously transliterated as Patuxai, Patuxay, Patousai and Patusai. It is also called Patuxai Arch or the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane as it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, it is typically Laotian in design, decorated with mythological creatures such as the kinnari (half-female, half-bird).

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Dec 30, 2012 4:38 PM

Had to complete the day with ice cream! So back to Swensens.
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In the evening we walked to the banks of the Mekong River to view the sunset
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The land across the Mekong River is Thailand
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You walk through Chao Anouvong Park in which stands the majestic statue of King Anouvong. The park was named after the King and he is highly regarded amongst Laotians. The statue was constructed in 2010 during Vientiane’s 450th Anniversary to commemorate the King’s noble contribution to Vientiane during his reign.
Chao Anouvong was the last king of the Lao Kingdom of Vientiane. During his era, he struggled to fight against the Siamese invasion of Vientiane. In the end, he was unsuccessful and was captured and the Kingdom of Vientiane was forced to surrender to Siamese rule and ceased to exist. Because of his persistent attempts to defeat the Siamese forces, Chao Anouvong is considered a courageous hero who fought for Vientiane until his death.

Chao Anouvong Park

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Chao Anouvong Park

Dec 30, 2012 5:50 PM

Me looking at the statue
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And not at the sunset
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You maybe asking why?!
Let me explain
Whilst looking at the statue I saw families having their photographs taken, by a local photographer. This photographer wears coloured top and carry badges to say they have permission to take and sell photographs. They are totally genuine and I am sure their charges are reasonable, otherwise, locals would not use them. Anyway, once the family takes a photograph they go for a wander whilst the photographer develops the picture. The family return to collect their picture and are mesmerised by the picture, some laugh whilst others are in awe of how is this possible, their in this piece of paper. They then very carefully handle the picture so as to not damage it. For them it is a very precious memory of the trip out. This made me appreciate what we take for granted…..between us we have a digital camera, iPad and two iPhones which we use as cameras, we take them for granted. The poor camera gets thrown about but it still serves us well. The iPhones get dropped every other day but still serves us so well. We always expect it to work as it should regardless of how we treat it. If not we would just buy another one and not think about it. Here families really do appreciate every little thing. The picture of them. Their family walk on the beach. I noticed in Luang Prabang their dinners around the family table. Watching their car battery powered televisions as a family. Here throwing away items e.g a radio, television is not an option. They treat it well if a mechanical fault does occur they will fix it, in the west if a mechanical fault occurs we throw it away and buy another one!

Dec 30, 2012 5:57 PM

Sangeet took amazing pictures of the sunset, here they are…in fact 99% of the pictures on this blog are were taken by Sangeet.
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The statue from behind
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Whilst walking through the park we came across an aerobics class
Dec 30, 2012 6:16 PM

For email subscribers
Aerobics in the Park

On the way backup the hotel we walked through the night market
Dec 30, 2012 6:42 PM
Dec 30, 2012 6:47 PM

For email subscribers
Night Market, Vientiane

Royal Visit…..

Royal Visit…..

Today we looked into flights to Vientiane there are two companies we can use Lao Airlines or Lao Central Airlines. Lao airlines worked out best for us in terms of times. The tickets are booked for Saturday.

We had a wander around town, visited Phou Si temple (climbing around 300 steps to get there!), Buddhist footprint, other temples and a Buddhist monk school.

Phou Si
The main hill in the city from which you have a good view of the whole area. It’s not a very steep climb from the bottom and sunrise and sunset are particularly rewarding times to go up. There is a near-panoramic view from the top. There are 2 entrances from ground level: 1 on the north along Sisavangvong Road, facing the Royal Palace, and another one on the East, on Sisavang Vatthana Road. The northern entrance has about 130 steps up to the ticket counter, and another 190 steps to the top. The eastern entrance is longer than the northern one by a factor of 2 or 3, and is hence less steep and has more points of interest along the way, which are perfect excuses for stopping for a breather on the climb. Entrance fee 20,000 kip. Here there is a Buddhist footprint.

Temple at the ticket office
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looking across to the Royal Palace Museum
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The next steps up
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Views from the top
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the temple from the outside
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Another temple at the bottom
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Monks studying
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Afterwards we had a walk around town popping into the Big Brother Mouse offices (more information in my post for tomorrow) and Ock Pop Tok (a fair trade textile shop which is linked to the Living Craft Centre). The shop assistant was curious and asked what religion we are We told her, she then wanted Sangeet to tie a turban on her. She also gave us her email address and wants information on Sikhi.

Big Brother Mouse
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Ock Pop Tok shop, the lady liked Sangeet’s turban and wanted Sangeet to tie one on her.
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We then popped into saffron cafe for a strawberry smoothie.
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Red chillies
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We wandered around town for a while then made our way to The Royal Palace.
The Royal Palace (official name “Haw Kham”) in Luang Prabang, Laos, was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The site for the palace was chosen so that official visitors to Luang Prabang could disembark from their river voyages directly below the palace and be received there. After the death of King Sisavang Vong, the Crown Prince Savang Vatthana and his family were the last to occupy the grounds. In 1975, the monarchy was overthrown by the communists and the Royal Family were taken to re-education camps. The palace was then converted into a national museum.
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On the way back through the night stall which was being setup we stopped at the vegetarian stall for a late lunch / early dinner. We were the first to arrive so were able to enjoy the buffet whilst fresh.

Dec 27, 2012 5:21 PM

In the evening I went to pick up the laundry from town and also had a one hour foot massage. It was a bargain at 40000kip (around £3)!

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