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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Khone Phapheng Waterfall

This waterfall lies 161 km south of Pakse on road No 13. Khone Phapheng is the biggest and most beautiful waterfall in Southeast Asia. In the past, Khone Phapheng formed a natural barrier against foreign aggression, and still remains an obstacle for navigation in the Mekong river today.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pakse: Noodle shop's furniture

This noodle shop is located in the center of Pakse. I think the furniture in this shop is so beautiful. Beautiful design and beautiful wood, it is teak.

Real Pakse

The meaning of Pakse.
Pak+Se=mount of river.
Pakse is place where the Mekong meets Xedone river.
In southern dialect Xe or Se means river
Xedone river

Xedone meets the Mekong

And this is Pakse

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pakse: Local transport

I was riding on my bike with my friend. Suddenly I saw this vehicle. It ran slowly behind us. I stopped it and asked the driver if I could take photo. The driver allowed us to take photo of his vehicle after that we let him go.

The engine of this vehicle is multifunctioned. It can be used for water pumping and many many jobs.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pakse: French's bridge accross Xedone River

This is very old bridge. The newer one built by the Russian.
This bridge uses one-way traffic regulated by traffic light.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My activities in Wan Awk Pansa

Lai heua fai( ໄຫລເຮືອໄຟ) : letting the candles flow away

Vien Thien (ວຽນທຽນ): to walk in circle carrying candles
Wan Awk Pansa day was on October 26. That day in the morning people go to Wats, so did my wife. In the everning I could hear the sound of firework, it seemed like we were in the the battle zone because the sound was like the gunshots. We prepared a small wood boat - just a bar of wood and decorated it with candles. Every houses lit candles, some decorated their houses with beautiful lamps. Young people went out to the rivers (in my hometown - the Mekong) to join the festive activities like Lai Heua fai, Vien Thien..
But, I and my friends did not join any activities as we sat in the bar drinking Beerlao.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wan Awk Pansa in Vientiane (the end of Buddhist Lent)

Dear readers.
Every year on the night of 15th day of 11th month in the Lao lunar calendar (in 2007 it fell on October 26)is the end of Buddhist Lent which lasts for 3 months .

After ending of Buddhist Lent in my hometown - Vientiane there will be the boat racing festival, which will be organized on October 27.

The boat racing festival is the big even for people living in Vientiane and the whole country.

Usually it begins in the morning and finish in the evening. A lot of people will gather on the bank of the Mekong river to see the racing.

At night there will be illuminated boat processions - boats which are decorated with many small lamps and will be let go along river.

Also, every year on the night of 15th day of 11th month in the Lao lunar calendar at the end of Buddhist Lent (in 2007 it fell on October 26), an extraordinary phenomenon occurs in the area of the Mekong River stretching over 20 kilometres between Pak-Ngeum district, about 80 kilometres south of the Lao capital Vientiane, and Phonephisai district in Nong Khai province, Thailand. Fireballs spew up from the river. Everyone had doubts about this extraordinary occurrence, but later accepted what they knew as facts about the fireball: that it was not staged by humans, but happened naturally. So from then on, villagers on both sides of the river called this phenomenon the Nāga's Fireball. They believe that Nāga under Mekong River shoot the fireball into the air to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent, because Nāga also meditate during this time

The fireballs have been seen for centuries and are most often reported around the night of Wan Awk Pansa - the end of the Buddhist rains retreat - in October only.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Laos wins international tourism award

The Laos Tourism Administration (LTA) has won a tourism prize out of 339 applicants from the Asia Pacific region.

The award was presented on September 28 when the Lao delegation attended the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart 2007, held in Bali , Indonesia from September 20-29; the LTA won a Gold Award, according to a press release.

Some 27 awards were also given to another 23 applicants from organisations and individuals who achieved in tourism; 24 of the awards are Gold Awards and four are Grand Awards.

At least 800 people took part in the awards presentation ceremony, supported by the PATA and the Macao Tourism Agency.

The prize was awarded Laos because of its achievements in training tour guides at the World Heritage sites of Luang Prabang and Wat Phou, Champassak.

The LTA has trained its tour guides under the Mekong Tourism Development project, supported by the UNESCO and Macao Tourism Agency. The training courses have focused on raising awareness of the importance of protecting world heritage in the Mekong region, which is the location of ten cultural and historical world heritage sites.

This year, the LTA has received two prizes, including the Equator Prize for the ecotourism project in Namha, the National Forestry Conservation Area in Luang Namtha province.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update October 15, 2007)

Vientiane to celebrate 450 th anniversary in 2010

On Independence Day, October 12, senior officials informed the public of plans to celebrate the 450 th anniversary of the establishment of Vientiane as the capital of Laos in 2010.

Around 1,000 people gathered at the National Culture Hall on Friday to hear a talk on the history of Vientiane and the background to Independence Day, which took place 62 years ago.

Dignitaries attending the event included Standing Deputy Prime Minister Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, the Party Secretary of Vientiane Mr Sombath Yialiher, and the Mayor of Vientiane Dr Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune.

Laos declared independence on October 12, 1945, after 158 years of foreign occupation. In 2010, this day will mark the start of the anniversary celebrations in Vientiane .

Mr Somsavat pointed out that Vientiane was one of the oldest cities in Asia . According to Lao history, Vientiane is actually more than 1,700 years old, in which time it has grown from a small village to a city.

The name Vientiane is derived from its founder, Mr Boulichan, who is thought to have first created the settlement in the year 236 in the Buddhist calendar.

In 1560 AD, Vientiane was named the capital of the Lane Xang Kingdom by King Xaysetthathirath, when he moved the capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane .

In Friday's lecture, Mr Somsavat said that the celebration in three years' time would acknowledge the capital's development and the devotion and hard work of past generations who had sacrificed their blood to protect and advance the capital.

“The celebration will give us the opportunity to understand the past correctly so that we can gain a deeper insight into the present. Our objective now is to develop Vientiane into a city that is comparable to those of our neighbours,” Mr Somsavat said.

This will be the first time the capital's birthday has been celebrated.

The Party Secretary of Vientiane Mr Sombath recalled how on October 12, 1945, more than 20,000 people gathered at the National Stadium where the Lao Issara government officially declared the country's independence.

Lao Issara leaders took the opportunity of the defeat of the Japanese in World War II to declare independence.

The Japanese forces that overthrew the French administration in Indochina in 1942 were forced to withdraw from Laos after their defeat in World War II.

Independence Day was the result of prolonged fighting by the Lao people to gain independence from foreign occupation.

Anniversary celebrations in 2010 will include an export drive to boost earnings for city residents, arts competitions, a beauty contest, and sports events.

Songs and films will also be produced, while the city pillar at Vat Simeuang will be restored along with the old city wall, the Sisaket Museum and That Luang Stupa.

Street lighting will be installed on the main roads to beautify the city ahead of the celebration.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update October 15, 2007)

Friday, October 5, 2007

By 2010 you won't see Tuk-tuks in Vientaine

Tuk-tuks to be off the streets by 2010

A move to ban tuk-tuks and jumbos in Vientiane is scheduled to take effect in 2010, but drivers have expressed dismay at the proposal, fearing they will lose their livelihood.
Tuk-tuks and jumbos wait for passengers at the morning market.
Authorities see that these vehicles to some extent cause road accidents in the city, resulting in several deaths and injuries every month.
Director of the Vientiane Department of Communi-cation, Transport, Post and Construction, Mr Thongdam Xayphakatsa, said yesterday the department was preparing to put the idea into practice.
“We can all see that these vehicles are in poor condition. Some of them don't even have indicators, or front and back lights,” he said.
The department is trying to encourage the use of all vehicles for family purposes, and is seeking to improve the city's transport services, especially buses and taxis.
A private company in Laos has recently imported more than 30 buses from China , which will go into service in Vientiane in October as part of the capital's transport upgrade.
There are concerns that the ban will make life difficult for tourists, for whom tuk-tuks are the perfect mode of transport around Vientiane .
A British woman working here, Ms Angela Edwards, commented that the proposal to ban these vehicles was not a good idea.
“This form of transport is the most convenient and for so long I have been thankful that I could jump on a tuk-tuk, anytime, anywhere.”
“I think it is unlikely that a bus service could ever substitute for the convenience offered by tuk-tuks, and taxis are way too expensive. Tuk-tuks are the people's transport.”
“I've been told officials say they are considered sub-standard, but what is it exactly they don't like about them?” she asked.
“Tuk-tuks provide a form of service for which there is no substitute; it is one of the reasons I enjoy life in Laos ,” she said.
The ban has yet to be implemented, but it is a hot topic among tuk-tuk and jumbo drivers, who are concerned about unemployment.
One driver, who has been in the job for 16 years, said his earnings formed the family's main source of income. “I don't know what I would do if I couldn't drive a tuk-tuk anymore,” he said.
At present there are several thousand tuk-tuks and jumbos in Vientiane , of which 30 are stationed near Nam Phou fountain, and frequently used by the numerous tourists in this area.
They are mostly made from parts imported from Thailand and assembled in Laos.
By Somsack Pongkhao (Latest Update September 27, 2007)

Monday, October 1, 2007

UNESCO to review Luang Prabang's World Heritage status

UNESCO will send officials to Luang Prabang next month to see whether the town still warrants its World Heritage status, according to a senior official.

The head of the Luang Prabang Heritage Office, Ms Manivone Thoummabouth, said last week that the team of inspectors would arrive in Luang Prabang early next month, and will work there for two weeks to review all heritage sites in a routine inspection.

“They will come with a checklist to ensure all listed building and artefacts have remained intact in the 10 years since the town was listed as a World Heritage Site,” she said in a telephone interview with Vientiane Times.

She said the inspection was not unexpected, because UNESCO inspects all sites 10 years after they have been granted World Heritage status.

She added that UNESCO had proposed an inspection of the town last year. “Lao government and UNESCO officials reached an agreement on a deadline for the Luang Prabang inspection in August during a meeting in Switzerland ,” she said.

Ms Manivone said the team of inspectors had extensive knowledge of World Heritage Sites and remained independent from all state organisations.

UNESCO has removed certain sites from the World Heritage list in the past, including the city of Chiang Mai in Thailand , which was unable to maintain its sites due to rapid development.

Ms Manivone said she had a strong belief that the results of this year's inspection would be positive, because over the past 10 years local authorities have “done an excellent job in maintaining the area”.

She explained that many of the town's temples and houses were in the same condition as they were 10 years ago, and all renovations had been carried out carefully, in accordance with heritage guidelines.

She also said that while local architecture had been preserved, Luang Prabang residents had continued to maintain their traditional lifestyles; women still wear the traditional Lao skirt when offering alms to monks in the early mornings, an example of the many traditions that have largely disappeared in Asia .

Ms Manivone said the Lao government has always been intent on protecting its places of cultural heritage as they reflect the unique Lao culture, and help to boost the tourism industry.

“Many tourists come to Luang Prabang because of its World Heritage status,” she said, adding that this has led to more jobs and better incomes for local people.

(Latest Update October 02, 2007)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wat Phou: Test your luck on the cliff

The sanctuary is located below the cliff. There is a small walking track you can use to go up. On the cliff there are large images of elephant and Lord Buddha's foot print.

People use the foot print to test their luck by stretching their arms from one edge to another. If you can reach the another edge you are lucky.

Before doing so you need to buy grass for the elephant image. Pray and wish to have luck.

Oy! I am not lucky

Let's me wish first

Oh I am not lucky too.

Grass for you, Holy elephant

I wish I would have luck

Ok. I have luck

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wat Phou: The Sanctuary

There is a long way behind the trees to go to the sanctuary and we need to climb up the hill.
After getting up the hill we can look back how far we have walked from the palaces.

Now we can enjoy the art of Sanctuary's walls and doors

Another view of the Sanctuary

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Wat Phou: The King Kammatha

Continuing west, successive staircases lead up further terraces; between them stands a dvarapala which has come to be worshipped as king Kammatha, mythical builder of the temple. On the narrow next terrace are the remains of six small shrines destroyed by treasure-hunters.

People pay worship to The King Kammatha

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wat Phou: causeway

This is a map of Wat Phou area. We started our journey from the palaces which are on the right. We continue our journey from palaces through a causeway to the first step.

The palaces are behind.

The close look of stone columns (ເສົາເສ)

And the first step. Stone columns are behind

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wat Phou: The palaces

The large sign is welcoming us to the second world heritage place in Laos and its cerebration festival for the fifth anniversary of being the world heritage place.

The bazaar in front of the festival
My pictures are not good enough in strong sun light. This is North Palace.
We still will be in Wat Phou in the next posts. We will take a long walk from Palaces to the cliff.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Local handicraft on the way to Wat Phou

To go to Wat Phou I decided to use road no 13th which need to cross the Mekong using ferries.
As your vehicle reached the river bank you will see a lot of handicraft shops along the road.

If you don't know what are they or what are they for, you just buy as souvenir.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The fresh market along the road

On the way from Tomo going back to Pakse. This market is located on 19th kilometer.
They sell snakes, fish, frogs, all kind of vegetables collected from forest.

This deer is looking at itself
And These reptiles are under arrest

Wat Phou: Crossing the Mekong

I went to Wat Phou two times. The first time in 2005. I went there in the evening. We started from Tomo at 7 p.m and we reached Wat Phou at 11 p.m. because of traffic jam. The road was full of vehicles and crowd heading to Wat Phou festival which is held once a year. The vehicles must cross the Mekong using ferries, there were about ten of them going from one bank to another. It was dark that night, I could not take photo to show here.
But I have another pictures taken in the day time during my second trip to Wat Phou.

In the ferry you can find noodle soup to eat and if you have motorbike and you don't prefer big ferries then choose the choice shown in the last picture

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tomo: The world heritage of Tomo

If you begin from Pakse and going south, you will find Tomo at kilometer 40.
You will find the sign on the rightside. Turn right and go along unpaved road about 1 kilometer (could not remember exact distance).
There is a kiosk for tourists for buying tickets but the day I went there I could not find anybody who sells tickets.
Among the high trees you will see the stone ruins of Ancient Khmer empire like in Angor Wat.

People may know Wat Phou which is also the ancient Khmer architecture better than this place.