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Laos

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Laos - Page Text Content

S: LAOS TRIP 2010

FC: LAOS

1: Ancient Laos Indian merchants introduced Theravada Buddhism into Laos in the 1st century AD Khmers from Cambodia ruled from 9th-13th century Ancestors of today's Laotians founded a kingdom called Lan Xang in the 14th century In the 18th century, Siamese (Thailand) forces occupied Laos In 1893, the Siamese formally surrendered all territory east of the River Mekong to the French. Loas became part of the French empire | In 1941, the French fought a war with Thailand for Laotian land. The Japanese forced an armistice and parts of Laos were given to Thailand In 1945, Japan forced Sisavong Vong to declare independence from France. | In 1946, the French invaded LAos and were in control of the country again In 1953, the French withdrew and Laos became an independent constitutional monarchy Most of Laos in the 1950s was ruled by Royalist governments supported by the US while other parts were ruled by the Pro-Communist Paphet Lao. The Asian War caused Royalists to flee allowing Paphlet Lao to take over The Lao People's Democratic Republic was founded on 2 December 1975

2: VIENTIANE "City of Sandalwood" | Chao Fa Ngum Statue Fa Ngum was the first king and founder of the Lan Xang Kingdom

4: Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) Contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues. | Built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat (a priest-shaman) who integrated Hinduism and Buddhism

11: Since it has no budget for its own presentations, it hosts performances by visiting artists, conferences and events | Lao National Culture Hall | Built by the Chinese government in the late 1990s as a gift to the people of Laos

12: Pha That Luang "The Great Stupa" | The most important national monument and a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and sovereignty Legend has it that from the 3rd century BC, Ashokan missionaries from India erected a shrine to enclose the breastbone of the Buddha

13: A gold covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of Ventiane In the mid-16th centre, King Setthathirat relocated his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and ordered the construction of the Pha That in 1566

14: Covered in gold, the stupa was repeatedly reconstructed due to invasions by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese

15: Patuxai "Gate of Triumph" | A war monument built between 1957 and 1968 Dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France Contains many Buddhist mythological figurines including kinnari (half-female, half-bird)

16: It was constructed again to house the French colonial governors, and also served as a royal residence during the brief reign of the Lao monarchy after independence It is now used to host receptions and ceremonies | Presidential Palace | The site was the heart of the Lao royal palace until the Siamese invasion of 1828

17: Legend suggests it was once coated in a layer of gold, which was carted off by the Siamese during their pillaging of 1828, after which the stupa took the 'black' sobriquet in memory of the act Another myth indicates that it housed a seven-headed dragon that protected local citizens during the Siamese-Lao war | That Dam Stupa "Black Stupa"

18: Wat Sisaket | Built in 1818 on the orders of King Anouvong and may be the oldest temple in Vientiane | The Siamese style likely saved it from the destruction that came with the Siamese armies in 1828

19: The cloister of the temple has many large Buddha images and thousands of small niches holding smaller Buddha statues

20: Ho Phra Keo "The Temple of the Emerald Buddha" | Designed to serve as the personal temple of the Lao royal family. King Setthathirat built it in 1565 to house the Emerald Buddha which he brought with him to Laos after his father, King Phothisarat died and Setthathirat moved from present day Chiangmai to Vientiane

21: The Emerald Buddha is no longer in the temple but based in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. It was taken by King Rama I of Siam when he ransacked Vientiane in 1779 | During this invasion, the temple was damaged but rebuilt by the Siamese, only to be destroyed again during the next Siamese invasion in 1828

22: Nam Phou Fountain and Square

23: Lao National Museum | Lao prehistory and the major dinosaur bone discoveries in Savannakhet The indianised Mon and Khmer kingdoms during the first millennium | The Lao kingdom of Lane Xang until 1707 The division of Lane Xang into three principalities 1707-1779 The rule of Siam 1779-1893 The French colonial period 1893-1945 The first Indochina War 1945-1954 Us intervention from 1964-1973 Liberation of the country in 1975

25: Provides prosthetics and mobility devises. During the Vietnam War, the conflict spilled into Laos leaving it one of the most heavily bombed countries in history. Many bombs did not explode at the time and the country is littered with UXO (unexploded ordnance). UXO is a generic term used for all munitions including mines that have explosive, incendiary and pyrotechnic or gas filling power | COPE (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) | Free from Explosive bombs

26: SCENIC VIEWS FROM VIENTIANE TO VANG VIENG

28: VANG VIENG

31: Gardens at Tham Chang Cave

32: Inside Tham Chang Cave

34: View from Top of Tham Chang Cave

36: Poukham Lagoon and Cave

38: Kayaking on the Nam Song River

44: LUANG PRABANG "Royal Buddha Image" | It was the ancient royal capital of the Lan Xang kingdom until King Phothisarat moved it to Vientiane in 1545 Fuses traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries

46: Boat Cruise on the Mekong river towards Pak Ou Caves

49: Village Stopover | The village of Ban Xang Hai has for centuries made earthen jars to ferment Lao wine and whisky

50: Pak Ou Caves | At the mouth of the Ou river are the Tham Ting (lower cave) and Tham Theung (upper cave)

51: Many carvings in the cave date from between the 18th to 20th centuries | Hundreds of very small Buddhist figures, deposited over centuries are located in the two limestone caves. They take different positions including meditation, teaching, peace, rain and reclining (nirvana)

52: The first use of the caves for religious purposes was when the local population worshipped Phi (spirits of nature)

53: The caves are a popular pilgrimage site for local people. During Lao New Year in April, the caves are crowded with devotees who gain merit by ceremonially washing the Buddha statues

54: Haw Kham "Royal Palace" | Built in 1904 during the French colonial era for king Sisavang Vong and his family. The site was selected so that official guests could disembark from their river voyage directly below the palace and be received. = After the Royal Family were overthrown in 1975, the palace converted into a national museum

55: The entry hall still reflects the central position of Buddhism in the Lao Kingdom and highlights the intertwining elements of religion and monarchy. Another room contains gifts from foreign leader and governments including lunar rocks from the US

56: Built in 1963, it is the permanent shrine for the Pha Bang, Luang Prabang's namesake and most sacred image. Pra Bang is 90% gold and is a statue with both hands raised in the attitude of Abhayamudra (dispelling fear and offering protection to those who give it honour). In 1359, the Khmer king gave the statue to the first Lang Xang monarch Fa Nfum (his son-in law). It serves as a unifying force for religious and royal traditions | Haw Pha Bang "Palace Chapel"

58: Mount Phou Si "Holy Mountain" | Luang Prabang with the Nam Khan River

59: Panoramic views of the town and the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers

62: Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham "The New Monastery" | It is the largest and most richly decorated temple in Luang Prabang. The wat was founded by King Anourout in the 18th century. It served as a temple for the royal family and has been the residence of the Pra Sangkharat, the highest Laotian Buddhist dignitary

63: Biking around Luang Prabang

65: Bear Rescue Centre | The centre in Tat Kuang Si Park was set up in 2003 for Asiatic black bears confiscated from poachers and traffickers | Most of the bears arrive at the centre as very young cubs confiscated by the Lao government from illegal poaching and trading. It is likely they would have otherwise been destined for a life of torture in a 'bile farm' outside of Laos

66: Kuang Si Falls | The falls begin in shallow pools atop a steep hillside. These lead to the main fall with a 50m cascade. The water collects in numerous turquoise blue pools as it flows downstream. The many cascades that result are typical of travertine waterfalls

68: Wat Xieng Thong "Golden City" | The temple was spared from any damage in 1887 because the Black Flag Haw leader had studied here as a monk and used it as his headquarters during the ransacking of Luang Prabang | King Setthathilat founded it in 1560 to commemorate the memory of the Chanthaphanith, a betal merchant and the legendary first king of Luang Prabang

69: There are over twenty structures on the grounds including shrines, pavilions and residences | It is situated on the embankment above the Mekong and served as the gateway to the town. It was also the site to coronate Lao Kings and hold numerous annual festivals honoring the Buddha and folk spirits

70: A carriage house which contains the funeral carriage standing at 12 metres high along with various urns for the royal family

73: Night Market

74: Elephant Village

76: At dawn, monks collect alms of rice from kneeling villagers and early rising tourists | Alms Ceremony

77: Local performers put on a show that includes traditional dance and folk music. The play was called "Mount Meru, Sau Samin" | Royal Palace

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