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rowan’s Travel Diary

Monday, 04 Feb 2008

Location: Laos

Mapin vientiane, lao there is a museum of history that is not found in the US. it is filled with weapons, war pictures and stories of the 'hidden war' the US had against Loa in the 60's and 70's. during the vietnam war they spilled bombs all over this country and now they dont even help them clean up! australia and a few others are funding the dismantlement operations. the lao liberation army and whole villages went to school and ran their whole lives and their resistance to 'US imperialists and their puppet workers' (as they called them) inside caves in the north. lao has thousands of caves all over in the limestone mountains.
it was pretty shocking to see the pictures of torture and education camps the US built here, but i am glad i know it happened, finally. also, i am glad the people of this country dont hold any grudges against us! there were many people in the museum and we all looked concerned and agitated a bit by the graphic photos and blunt language the english translations were written in.
this city is also filled with monastaries, just like luang prabang. many of the monks are between ages 10 and 18. young boys are sent by their families to the monastaries since they provide the best education available in this country. buddhism only came to lao a few hundered years ago. before it was an animistic religion called Phi. many of the ethnic groups still use this, and worship many spirits. one group, sacrifices a cow each new year to thank the gods. a recent story of theirs said they did not want to give up a cow since it is such a useful animal, so they went to the market and bought fish but then the whole village got sick and they decided never to use fish again, only cow.
the way of life is so relaxed and simple. i noticed yesterday that all the loa people i saw were sitting in the shade, playing games, stitching, playing in the river, sitting quietly. and all the foriegners were running around shopping, finding tours, eating, busying themselves. it made me laugh and i decided to just sit and hang out instead of run around. then i met this little girl who played ball with me for a bit, until she started hitting me with a stick! then i just noticed the day was really nice and the mekong river looked very lazy, so a good quite sit would be the best thing.
speaking of the mekong, fishers have found an eel 50 feet long and foot and a half tall, and also, a GIANT fish 7 feet long and 7 feet WIDE! the river creates monsters. since i saw pictures of these i believe that the lockness monster does exist but is just good at hiding. so go jess (shes going to sotland), because if you wait long enough i think you will find it.