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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lao Airlines cancels flights to Bangkok

Lao Airlines yesterday cancelled four flights bound for Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi) after the airport was partially closed when anti-government protestors disrupted airport services.

Lao Airlines Marketing Director, Mr Rada Sounthone, told Vientiane Times the airline had cancelled two flights out of Vientiane and one each from Savannakhet and Luang Prabang airports until further notice.

He was unable to say when flights would resume as this depended on when services at Suvarnabhumi Airport could be restored to normal.

“We also have more than 300 inbound passengers waiting to board flights to Laos at Suvarnabhumi Airport ,” he said.

He said Lao Airlines would refund passengers' money if they decided to travel overland to Thailand instead. Alternatively they could fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang and from there to Chiang Mai , Thailand .

If the flight on an alternative route costs more than a ticket on the Vientiane-Bangkok sector, passengers must pay the difference. But if the alternative route is cheaper, Lao Airlines will refund the difference.

“All of our flights are fully booked right now because it is peak tourist season,” Mr Rada said.

According to Thailand 's The Nation newspaper, Airports of Thailand (AOT) decided to close Suvarnabhumi Airport after People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters blocked an entrance, entered passenger terminals and scuffled with airport officials.

The closure, ordered about 9pm on Tuesday, involved stopping outbound flights. Inbound planes were still being allowed to land on Tuesday night, but could be diverted to key provincial airports if the situation deteriorated.

“The PAD members are now scattered around. I don't know who's who, or who's PAD and who's not,” a senior AOT official, Mr Serirat Prasutanont, told The Nation about 10:30pm on Tuesday.

It is not known how long the closure will last. According to Mr Serirat, the airport had scheduled 44 inbound flights and 40 departures between 11:30pm on Tuesday and 7am on Wednesday.

Thai Airways International (THAI) reported more than 21 flights - to Japan, India, Iran and Europe and other destinations - were cancelled on Tuesday night, affecting up to 6,000 travellers. Up to 10,000 travellers could have been affected on Tuesday night alone, according to airline sources.

The PAD threatened earlier on Tuesday night to close down Suvanabhumi Airport completely after several thousand PAD protesters blocked an entrance earlier in the day and caused turmoil for numerous passengers.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa
(Latest Update November 27, 2008)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Laos to request UNESCO recognition of Khammuan site

Laos plans to ask the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to designate a national protected area in Khammuan province as a world heritage site.

The area is known as Phou Hin Nam Nor ( Stone Pillar Mountain ) and covers an area of 82,000 hectares.

Phou Hin Nam Nor Head, Mr Sysomphone Southijack, this week said Laos made the request because the area was naturally beautiful and full of wildlife.

He said Phou Hin Nam Nor was added to the list of national protected areas in 1993, and is one of 21 such protected areas in Laos . The mountain is believed to have formed due to a volcanic eruption several centuries ago.

The government has listed Phou Hin Nam Nor and the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province for submission to UNESCO for recognition as world heritage sites, Mr Sysomphone said.

“We believe the designation of Phou Hin Nam Nor as a world heritage site would help to attract more tourists to the province,” he said.

The protected area borders the Phong Nga-Kebang National Park in Vietnam , which was named a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2003.

Mr Sysomphone said it would be appropriate for UNESCO to include Phou Hin Nam Nor as an extension of this area of natural beauty.

The first place in Laos to be named a world heritage site was the picturesque and historic town of Luang Prabang , which was added to UNESCO's list in 1995.

In 2001 the Vat Phou temple in Champassak province was also added to the list. This temple is a fine example of early and classic Khmer architecture, dating from the 7th to 12th centuries A.D.

At the foot of Vat Phou lies the remains of the ancient city of Shestupura , first settled in the 5th century A.D and believed to be the oldest urban settlement in Southeast Asia .

By Meuangkham Noradeth
(Latest Update November 26, 2008)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ceremony to mark 40th anniversary of cave tragedy

Laos will hold a ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Tham Piew cave tragedy in Xieng Khuang province on November 24, an official in the province said yesterday.

The provincial admini-stration office's Deputy Head of Office, Mr Bounhome Thedthany, said Party and State leaders, officials and people from around the country would travel to the province for the occasion

The cave has been developed as a tourist site.

“This year a special mourning ceremony will be held to remember the people who died in the cave during the American offensive in Laos ,” he said.

“Thousands of people are expected to come to pay their respects to the 374 people killed when a US fighter aircraft attacked the cave with missiles 40 years ago.”

American attacks began in Xieng Khuang province in 1964 during the Indochina War. It was in the late afternoon of November 24, 1968, that Tham Piew cave was hit. Children and elderly people were sheltering in the cave while other villagers were working in the fields.

The US aircraft launched four missiles at the cave. The first and the second missed the target, while the third and the fourth entered the cave killing all 374 people inside.

All of those who died in the attack are buried in front of the cave, Mr Bounhome said.

Most people abandoned their houses when the Americans arrived in the area because the bombing switched from military to civilian targets, including homes, schools and hospitals. Some people made their home in the jungle, while others sought shelter in caves.

“Inside the cave fragments of Buddha images, cooking utensils, medical equipment and human remains were found,” Mr Bounhome said.

“The cave was also used as a makeshift hospital at the time.”

Traditional Lao Buddhist rit uals will be held on the morning of the ceremony, including a tak baat (alms giving) to the dead. The Central Lao Artists' Troupe and the Central Acrobatic Troupe will perform on the main esplanade outside the cave site the day before the anniversary.

The Ministry of Information and Culture is currently constructing a pavilion for the event at a cost of almost 200 million kip.

Tham Piew cave is located in Boumlong village, about 60km east of Phonsavanh town and is a popular tourist site. The Tham Piew museum contains items collected from the cave.

Laos is the most heavily bombed nation on earth. More than two million tonnes of ordnance was dropped on the country by American warplanes during the Indochina War.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update November 5, 2008)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lao Airlines opens new route Luang Prabang-Udonthani

(KPL) The Lao Airlines has opened a new direct route between northern Laos' Luang Prabang and Udonthani, northeastern Thailand, to promote the tourism between the two provinces.
The opening ceremony for the new route was held last Friday at the Udonthani International Airport, Thailand, with the participation of Vice-Governor of Luang Prabang, Mr Khamphaeng Saysomphaeng, and Governor Of Udonthani, Mr Umnard Ponrattana, as well as Director General of Lao Airlines, Dr Somphone Douangdara. Relevant officials from both sides witnessed last week's event.
The Head of the Trading and Marketing Division, Lao Airlines, Lada Sounthone, said: the opening of the Luang Prabang-Udonthani air route is to promote the airborne communication and tourism between the two sister towns of world heritage of Laos and Thailand.
The flights between Luang Prabang and Udonthani will be available twice a week (Fridays and Sundays). The airfare in the first three months after the inauguration will cost US$ 70-80 (one way) and US$ 150 (return ticket).
Up to now, the Lao Airlines have opened direct flights between Luang Prabang and five international destinations in the region, including Kunming (southwestern China's Yunnan province), Hanoi (Vietnam), Siem Reap (Cambodia), and Chiang Mai and Udonthani, Thailand

Grassland of Xiengkhouang

In Laos you can see grassland only in Xiengkhouang. I showed these photos to friends they said that it's not in Laos.

I traveled to friend who works in this area. He brings electricity to the villages.

I like this place. It's beautiful.