That came as a surprise!

Trip Start Oct 31, 2012
Trip End Dec 12, 2012

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Monday, November 5, 2012

When Laos was part of the French empire, Luang Prabang was a popular "hill station," an outpost where French nationals posted in Laos would go to for vacation or escape even hotter temperatures found at their regular postings.  The French influence is still felt, as former French homes are now being turned into boutique hotels, the restaurants have a French touch to them, and the government is playing up on the French culture, including all government signs being in both Lao and French, though it is English that is being taught in the schools.  The original part of the city has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, therefore is protected by specific world rules.  The city also served as home for the former royal family, which the French allowed to stay in position while it governed the country.

The day was spent visiting the former royal palace, a number of wats, and climbing a hill to see a panoramic view of the city.  At the top of the hill are a number of sacred Buddha statues and, it is alleged, an imprint of Buddha's foot, though this is unlikely, as it doesn't look like a footprint, and it is well over six feet long!    

Since the top of the hill -- 190 steps up, 138 steps down -- contains a number of religious sites, and is considered sacred, I was in for a surprise when, between two religious stations, I came across a gunner affixed to a rock.  Presumably this was to target American flyers bombing the area during the war, though Luang Prabang was not a targeted part of the country.  With the war in SE Asia, followed by its own civil war, long over, you would have thought that it would have been removed, but maybe it's to be a reminder of the country's violent past.  


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