Languid Laos - 2007

is built at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong Rivers and it is ringed round with thickly forested mountains.

RELIGION AND EDUCATION It was surprising to us to discover that though a communist government has been in control for so many years, it has never acted to suppress Buddhism. There are many “wats,” as the temple/ monastery complexes are called, in and around the city and monks are much in evidence. Most male children still attend Buddhist schools because they often supply the only formal education available to all but the richest citizens. Our guide told us that most young boys and men stay in the schools until they are 18. It is at that age they will be expected to decide whether or not they want to enter religious life permanently. Parents can choose to send their sons to these schools at age 6 or 7 or at any time between then and 18. Kemphet entered at age 15 and left at 18; though he was never interested in becoming a monk, he indicated that he was grateful for the education afforded him. ACCOMMODATIONS Our other big surprise was our 5-star hotel: La Residence Phou Vao. It was superb in every way: beautiful public areas, grand and comfortable rooms with balconies overlooking the city and the temple on Phousi Hill. The meals were French influenced and delicious and the restaurant also offered samples of Laotian specialties as well. The outdoor pool was beautiful during the day, but at night it was really something to see because lights were strung across its surface to wink and glitter at poolside diners. Hanging lanterns rocked in the breeze as they adorned the surrounding trees and shrubs. The green water reflected everything back to us as we dined alfresco at poolside. The Phousi Hill temple stood above the scene in the distance, gilded and radiant. Really quite a treat to enjoy delicious meals served so correctly in such scenery!


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