Luang Prabang (3)

28 10 2009

Wednesday 28th October 2009

Pots of these prickly stemmed flowers and other ornamentals are everywhere

Pots of these prickly stemmed flowers and other ornamentals are everywhere.

A quick look at Laos’s history and we can’t help thinking of ancient Israel. Just as Israel was buffeted from one direction and then the other by Egypt and the superpowers of Mesopotamia, so Laos for centuries has been wedged between its bigger neighbours Vietnam and Thailand paying tribute in a balancing act first to one and then to the other. By the time of the Cold War the country was walking a tight rope trying to please both the Americans and the Communist forces only to come spectacularly undone. Laos became the most heavily bombed country in history with the American coalition dropping over 2 million tons of bombs in nearly 600,000 sorties. It was not long after the fall of Saigon in 1975 that the country was peacefully ‘liberated’ by the communist movement which had been strategically positioning itself for years.

house construction

There are amazing baulks of timber used in houses. It's worrying to see it used so freely when forests are clearfelled.

This little history snapshot was just a way of introducing the fact that we had a fascinating visit to the Royal Palace this morning. Wikipedia gives a good background, “The Royal Palace (official name “Haw Kham”) 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 on the Mekong 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.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Palace,_Luang_Prabang Check out the photos on this site.

Alan & Kate

It was good to meet some fellow Aussie travellers looking as lost as us at Hanoi airport. We ended up enjoying a meal with Kate and Alan.

It is hard to describe how impressed we were by the Palace but unfortunately cameras were not allowed inside. As an example one room of the palace was the secretaries reception room. It was filled with paintings, silver and china that have been presented to Laos as diplomatic gifts from Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, China, Nepal, the USA, Canada and Australia. Australia’s contribution, would you believe was a boomerang. We have to add there were also a couple of gold trinket boxes with opals set in the lid. Another example that deeply impressed us was the throne hall. We have never seen so much gold! It was here where royal vestments, gold and silver sabres, and the king’s elephant chair are exhibited. The walls of the whole room were made up of intricate wall mosaics of Japanese coloured mirrored glass, which gave the impression of life and depth to the walls, all of this was on a deep red background and took eight craftsmen three and a half years to complete.

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3 responses

29 10 2009
betty

thank you for such fascinating run down…love mum

29 10 2009
Lana Wall

Very interesting. Safe travel.
Lana

29 10 2009
Roger and Maree

Thanks Lana.

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