Two weeks in Vietnam and Laos wore me out. They wore me out so much that I nearly forgot my blog password.
But a reminder from my sister, then a haiku (no less!) from my dad in Central Asia has prompted me to get off my duff and show you some pictures.
Check out Vientiane’s version of the Arc de Triomphe.
For something like 50 cents, you can hike the stairs to the top for a sweeping view of the city.
Unfortunately, it was a gray day the morning we were there, but we were grateful that the heat wasn’t terribly intense yet.
There’s the presidential palace on that end of the boulevard.
I expected Laos to be a lot more like Vietnam, but it’s really Thailand’s less-developed cousin. Geographically it makes sense, but for some reason I’d always lumped them together in my head. Vietnam is communism, commercialism and hard work, whereas I felt like Laos was a more slow-moving pace of life. There were plenty of people up at 6 a.m. exercising along the Mekong river. But as they passed the huge religious statues, many would pause, bow and say a short prayer.
There were temples on nearly every street block, and because Laos recently celebrated their New Year (April 13-15), most of them had been topped up with a new coat of glistening gold paint.
I suppose when I pictured the temples, I thought of them more like operating houses of worship. In reality they are more of large structures built to show the benefactor’s religious devotion. Some sit empty, while a few have monks that live on the premises. Few are given much maintenance, with the exception of their New Year’s paint job. And not all the temples even got that.