Monday, 23 June 2008

Wednesday 4th June

Visited the Royal Palace in the centre of LPG, nice gardens but not overly opulant. The palm trees lining the driveway is a nice touch. My next house will have similar landscaping. The palace is now a museum but until the revolution it was the residence of the last king and queen of Laos before the country became a republic. The royal family were taken somewhere north and quietly disposed of. Maybe the French influence went beyond language and bread making and all the way to beheading. Guillotine anyone?

Strolled around the peninsular where smaller river Nam Khan snakes around and meets the Mekong. Tis warm work.

Accompanied Heather and Sarah to the night market which is basically row after row of red tents that are erected at 5pm and host mainly hill tribe people selling their wares. There are alternating tents of t-shirts with western logos and the ubiquitous Beer Lao t's. My favourite t-shirt had the logo 'Fat people are harder to kidnap' which I thought was great, the irony being that they only had it in small sizes, hey ho! Then there are the mat vendors which sell embroidered floor mats, then there's the handbag stall which sell hand made and very colourful handbags, then there's the multicoloured brolly stall, the 'silver' bracelet stall and finally the odds and sods stall which has a random selection of nick-nacks such as opium pipes, scorpions in whiskey bottles, large wooden jars, bamboo crafts, art print on textiles, Buddha carvings and other such essential items.

The people selling the goods are usually women, and they usually have a little baby or two in tow to engage the farang and sucker you into to a sympathy purchase. In addition to this children walk up and down the main tourist steet (Sisavangvong - named after the last king) selling trinkets such as wooden beaded necklaces and hand painted dolls. They talk to you as nice as pie but as soon as you explain you can't buy anything as you can't carry it home on the plane they look like they've just lost all their family in a spate of ethnic cleansing. Which unfortunately might not be too far off the truth in some cases so it's not fair to be too cynical. You've just got to be firm but fair.

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