May 01, 2004

Laid-back Laos

After a delayed flight we cruised in to Laos. I only had a vague recollection of a portion of the history of Laos (essentially that there was bombing here during the Vietnam war) was illuminating to get a refresher.

I won't pontificate too much, but suffice it to say that the "Secret War" that was conducted by the U.S. and Vietnamese in Laos from 1964 to 1973 (!) was not without its astounding attrocities. Totalling 583,000 sorties by '73, the US dropped an average of one planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, at a cost of $2M per day during that period, totaling 1.9 million metric tonnes (.5 million per person in Laos).

The country still bears some scars, with many towns completely wiped out of existance. All that said, it's remarkable to me that the Laos harbor little visible ill will towards Americans, including our taxi driver who flew for the Laos airforce at the US's behest, and bombed his own people.

The Laos we've met are friendly (moreso than Thais), modest and warm.

Spent the remainder of the day checking out a couple of Wats. Wat Si Saket had over 6,800 statues of Buddha (most of them Janet size or smaller ;-)):

Laos men are reqired to serve as monks for a period of time, which may explain the modernization of a few of them!

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