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2. February 2018 00:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Temples - Laos

2. February 2018 00:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The temples in Luang Prabang are some of the most beautiful anywhere. Yes, Thailand has some amazing
The temples in Luang Prabang are some of the most beautiful anywhere. Yes, Thailand has some amazing temples, but these are different. They are smaller, and more intricately decorated.




























1. February 2018 23:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Luang Prabang - Laos

1. February 2018 23:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Luang Prabang is without a doubt the cultural highlight of Laos. The old part of the city is beautif
Luang Prabang is without a doubt the cultural highlight of Laos. The old part of the city is beautiful and there are good reasons why is has been heritage protected.

I believe it has the most beautiful temples of South East Asia - they are not the largest or even the oldest, but the amount of details that has been put into them is absolutely stunning.



In addition to this there are a lot of other very interesting things to see in and do in the city, which I will cover in later posts.

The city itself is situated between two rivers where one of them is the Mekong which is still fairly busy with slow boats and ferries (The chinese are building a large bridge across the river north of the city)





The section between the two rivers form the city itself which consist of four parallel streets each about a kilometer long.



Everything within the city itself can be covered on foot and in the evening the main streets are blocked for card and reserved for pedestrians.

The place is dominated by a big hill with a small temple and stuba on top. It is very popular with tourists to climb the hill around sunset. And there is a great view of the mountains from the top.







There are some things that have changed in the city since I was there the last time. The most noticeable is the amount of tourists and fine hotels - and here it is really the more wealthy middle aged Europeans you see. The main street of the old city is full of modern western European influenced restaurants, souvenir and antique stores.



Fortunately you don't have to travel further that to the parallel streets to fine more low key Laos places to eat.

Also, last time I visited, I stayed in a small guest house near the city centre called Tanoy Guest House. When I stayed here I became good friends with the family and the place was named after the oldest daughter who's name was Tanoy.

The place is still there and apart from a larger fence it looks pretty much unchanged.


29. January 2018 21:01
by Rene Pallesen
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The War - Laos

29. January 2018 21:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The 'secret' war in the 60's and 70's had a major impact on the country. A massive amount of bombs w
The 'secret' war in the 60's and 70's had a major impact on the country. A massive amount of bombs were dropped by mostly the Americans in mostly the Northern and Eastern part of the country. This was partly an internal civil war but also to stop the North Vietnamese using the country as a supply route.

To get an insight into this was I can highly recommend the books by Christoper Robbins called 'The Ravens' and 'Air America'.

The impact today is that un-exploded ordnance (mines, cluster bombs etc.) is covering large parts of the country and that every year lots of people including children gets injured or killed.

It is also very noticable, especially in the Hmong villages that there is no presence of old men. This is because most of these were killed either during the war where especially they took heavy casualties despite the American support or through 'education' camps after the war.

Last time I went to Laos I went to Plains of Jars which was one of the most heavily bombed areas and the debris was everywhere. We weren't going there on this trip, but to give the family and friends an insight into the history and the dangers to present people we visited the COPE organisation in Vientiane.

Here is Aiden in front of an unexploded (disarmed) clusterbomb. Looks just like a ball and tempting for kids to play with.



These were dropped from canisters on aircraft with several hundred in each load. It is estimated that 1/3 of these didn't explode on impact.
 


This map shows the areas most effected.



If you look for the bombs they you see them everywhere - mostly disarmed and used as fence posts.



There is also remains of anti aircraft guns such as this one in Luang Prabang. The barrel had been removed but everything else still worked on it and they could turn it by rotating the handles, much to the amusement of the kids. During the war kids only a little older than our kids would have been fighting at the front lines.

16. January 2018 21:03
by Rene Pallesen
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People - Laos

16. January 2018 21:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

One thing that I love taking photos of on my travels are People.A lot of the photos of the people of
One thing that I love taking photos of on my travels are People.



A lot of the photos of the people of my travels are in the other posts, but here is a selection that didn't really fit into the other stories.

This is an old woman sitting doing preparing food or doing her handicraft outside her house while observing the street life.



Someone was shooting a wedding, I used the opportunity to snap a photo of my own.



A woman bathing in the Mekong



A girl posing for her boyfriend on top of the hill at Luang Prabang



A woman walking down the street



Another woman doing handicraft outside her shop

12. January 2018 00:02
by Rene Pallesen
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Fishing - Laos

12. January 2018 00:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The fishing along the rivers in Laos are still very traditional.It is the circular throw out nets, f
The fishing along the rivers in Laos are still very traditional.

It is the circular throw out nets, fish traps and people foraging along the river banks to collect river seaweed and snails for eating.



In most places they still use dugout canoes for the fishing.





In the various town you see people sitting repairing their fishing nets.










Kim told us that when she was a little girl she used to help the family repair the fishing nets, but that she's forgotten how to do it.



One of the delicacies in Loang Prabang is the local riverweed. We saw multiple people collecting it and also sitting cleaning it.





11. January 2018 19:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Kids highlights

11. January 2018 19:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Some of the other highlights for the kids in Vang Vieng was the gym at our hotel. The local guys use
Some of the other highlights for the kids in Vang Vieng was the gym at our hotel. The local guys used it to train for kick boxing and the kids felt inspired.






Also, one evening we spotted someone launching wishing lanterns. We asked where they came from and through a lot of pointing we found a local shop keeper selling them.

We bought one and launched it an the kids loved the experience.




Also, one of the trees at the hotel had two little monkeys staying there most of the day. The kids loved standing there shouting profanities at them.





10. January 2018 19:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Watersports

10. January 2018 19:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

At Vang Vieng we did do some water sports. Again we were extremely lucky kayaking a section of the r
At Vang Vieng we did do some water sports.

Again we were extremely lucky kayaking a section of the river back to Vang Vieng and having the entire river to ourselves.




The three kids were all in a kayak with our guide sitting on top of their life jackets - fortunately they can all swim.



Kim and I was in one Kayak and Sacha and Mavis in another.





Just where we started out there was a rapid with water flowing over a large boulder but with plenty of flat water on the sides. Kim was little impressed when I headed straight into the rapids and with perfect skills paddled us through them...her being soaked and the kayak being full of water may have had something to do with it.



She's later said that the kayaking trip was one of her favourite and most fun activities on the trip, so maybe she was somewhat impressed with my brilliant paddling skills!!







Along the river are still some of the remains of the bars and zip lines - but all very quiet now.



Approaching Vang Vieng we went past some really scenic locations with bungalows etc.









The experience at the end got and all thumbs up!





Another water activity that Mavis and I did was tubing through one of the caves. You essentially sit in an inflated car tyre and then pull yourself along a rope inside a cave. It was fun for the kids, however this place was packed with Koreans trying to do the same thing.

Aiden initially didn't want to go, but I am proud that he eventually managed to get the courage to do so.



We also went to one of the lagoons. There are a number of them and some of them are very popular. We organised with a driver to drive us to one of the less popular ones. It was still scenic and it had platforms of the trees to jump from and you could see why some travelers would have killed themselves jumping off them.







There were also a couple of rafts which reminded me of the first time I went to Laos and paddles across a local river on a raft. It got on one of them in the lagoon and the whole thing literally sunk under me - I only just managed to get off in time before getting soaked.

The second one was able to hold my weight and I took the boys for a little paddle.

9. January 2018 19:01
by Rene Pallesen
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A silent prayer - Laos

9. January 2018 19:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

At one of the caves in Laos there is this amazing Buddha statue inside the cave.I couldn't help but
At one of the caves in Laos there is this amazing Buddha statue inside the cave.

I couldn't help but notice how beautiful the diffused light was falling onto the statue itself and through the entrance to the cave. We were there all by ourselves and I asked Kim to sit and offer a little prayer in the ray of light coming in through the cave.

I didn't bring a tripod with me to Laos, so everything had to be shot handheld which was tricky as there wasn't much light there.

8. January 2018 18:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Vang Vieng - Caves

8. January 2018 18:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

In Vang Vieng we also went to some caves. Again we were the only ones there - I don't know if this w
In Vang Vieng we also went to some caves. Again we were the only ones there - I don't know if this was just because no one else were interested or because we went there at a time when everyone else were doing other activities.

The caves are in fairly pristine condition, they are dark, moist and other than descending a makeshift ladder walking through them gives a feeling of exploring the caves for the very first time.





Some passages were really narrow






And other parts of the caves were massive.










Overall the caves are beautiful and again it was amazing having them to ourselves.











7. January 2018 21:01
by Rene Pallesen
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Tribes - Laos

7. January 2018 21:01 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

The tribes of Laos still exist although it is no longer as noticeable. They no longer wear their tra
The tribes of Laos still exist although it is no longer as noticeable.

They no longer wear their traditional costumes but it is possible to glimpse the occasional traditional head wear or dress in one of the shops.








It is especially sad to see the Hmong tribal wear gone as worn below by Mavis and Kim. The Hmong traditionally lived in the mountains. The government has forced them down into the lowlands where they can be controlled and 'integrated' into the the rest of Laos.