Monday, June 06, 2005

Living With The Lotus Eaters

Luang Prabang is the old royal capital of Laos, even during the years of colonialism when the French allowed Laos to maintain the monarchy (although the royal family was finally done away with when the communists took over in 1975). However it has remained a sleepy little town with little development, which allowed it to gain world heritage status from UNESCO. In fact the place feels more like a rural village, albeit with paved roads, than a proper town: children play football in the streets; it's not uncommon to spot the odd chicken wandering about; you can hear the chanting of monks late in the afternoon; and when you climb the hill in the middle of the town you can hardly see any buildings as they're all hidden under a treetop canopy. It's also heartwarming to see visible signs of improvements in buildings and the local infrastructure due to its world heritage status, which just goes to show that the UN isn't without its uses. All in all it's a very relaxed place to stay for a few days to take a break from the buses (see previous post), and just to watch the world drift by (it's here that you realise that you realise why the French colonialists that were sent to Laos ended up being known as the Lotus Eaters).

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