Laos somewhat resembles Thailand’s younger sibling. Featuring a similar language and culture, it’s characteristic for its therapeutically slow life and recent dark past (regarding the Vietnam war) and shouldn’t be missing on the list of any traveler in the region.
Very Slow Life
My first visit to the country and the capital city Vientiane took place at the beginning of September 2016, just a few days before Barack Obama’s official visit. Even though Laos is generally a slow-paced country on any given day, this time Vientiane was noticeable empty and relaxed, and easily lived up to the country’s reputation of a having a very slow life. Even more so than in the sought-after Thailand. It’s said that time is relative and nowhere it’s true more than in Laos.
Laos – The Most Bombed Country in the World
Vietnam war in the 70s and 80s of the previous century had an adverse effect on the country’s fate. In effort to predominantly disrupt supply lines of the communist Vietnamese forces, the US army dropped two million ton of explosives on Laos, making it the most bombed country in the entire world. On average, Laos was bombed every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, nine consecutive years. This is by itself a jaw-dropping number, but what makes it even worse is that approximately 30% of the dropped explosives (cluster bombs) didn’t detonate. To this day, unexploded bombs pose a threat to local citizens and it’s considered unsafe to roam in contaminated areas that haven’t been thoroughly cleared before.
Things to See in Vientiane
On a more positive note, Vientiane is perfectly safe for exploration and offers handful of interesting places to visit and see. It’s a relatively small city and with some basic planning, it can be covered within a day or two. Numerous religious sites are further accompanied by footprints of colonialism from not so distant past. This is best evidenced by a presence of a monumental Patuxay Monument ອະນຸສາວະລີປະຕູໄຊ dominating the Vientiane’s square. Other places displayed throughout this article were takin in Sisaket Temple ວັດສີສະເກດ, Wat Phra Kaew ຫໍພະແກ້ວ and Temple at That Luang, in this order.