Well that’s my month in Vietnam already. Now time for my third country Laos. First stop UNESCO protected Luang Prabang, and what lovely place to spend my birthday. Lots to tell here, but first some info from Lonely planet about more recent history.
Revolution & reform
In April 1975 first Phnom Penh and then Saigon fell to superior communist forces. Immediately the Pathet Lao brought political pressure to bear on the right in Laos. Escalating street demonstrations forced leading rightist politicians and generals to flee the country. USAID was also targeted and hundreds of Americans began leaving Laos. Throughout the country, town after town was peacefully ‘liberated’ by Pathet Lao forces, culminating with Vientiane in August.
Souvanna Phouma, who could see the writing on the wall, cooperated with the Pathet Lao in order to prevent further bloodshed. Hundreds of senior military officers and civil servants voluntarily flew off to remote camps for ‘political re-education’, in the belief that they would be there only months at most. But Pathet Lao leaders had lied, just as they lied in promising to keep the monarchy. Hundreds of these inmates remained in re-education camps for several years.
With the rightist leadership either imprisoned or in Thailand, the Pathet Lao moved to consolidate power. At all levels of government, people’s committees took administrative control, at the direction of the LPRP. In November an extraordinary meeting of what was left of the Third Coalition Government bowed to the inevitable and demanded formation of a ‘popular democratic regime’. Under pressure, the king agreed to abdicate, and on 2 December a National Congress of People’s Representatives assembled by the Party proclaimed the end of the 650-year-old Lao monarchy and the establishment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/laos/history#234886#ixzz3OxXa79Ec
Luang Prabang is quiet a contrast to Han Noi. I flew in on Laos airlines, all good, jumped on a bus and arrived in time to visit the night market. I had the usual offers of women, drugs (opium) and anything else I could be after!! I woke up the next day to a cloudy chilly start, but the weather was back on my side, before I knew it was cracking the flags again.
I could feel the pace simply come to a practical standstill, once again a town culturally affected by the French, it brings a quaint colonial feel to a picturesque setting, where there feels to be appreciation of one another, as opposed to what I felt in Vietnam the rush to move forward no matter what. Here the Laotians do things at their pace.
Here are some pics, Ill add more info later.