On the trail of the great Henri Mouhot

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via Bangkok Post, 05 April 2018: Visiting Luang Prabang and finding the tomb of Henri Mouhot. I featured the tomb in one of my Instagram photos previously.

If you have been to Luang Prabang, you probably have climbed the 300 steps up Phousi, the hill that stands in the middle of the town. From the top, you can see not just the breadth and length of the former Lao capital and a Unesco World Heritage site but also the Mekong River a stone’s throw to the west and the smaller Khan River nearby to the east. The two waterways meet just north of Phousi.

Source: On the trail of the great Henri Mouhot

Categories: Laos


Govt, int’l partners review conservation of Vat Phou Champassak

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via Vientiane Times, 01 April 2018:

The Department of Heritage and international organisations met here this week to discuss ongoing projects to conserve and restore the temple ruins at Vat Phou Champassak.
The ancient temple’s protection and preservation must be undertaken to maintain its listing as a UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) world heritage site.

Source: Govt, int’l partners review conservation of Vat Phou Champassak | Vientiane Times

Categories: Laos


Videos > Plain of Jars Mystery

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via Archaeology Magazine

Photojournalist Jerry Redfern recently accompanied a team of archaeologists as they excavated at the Plain of Jars in Laos. This enigmatic landscape is filled with thousands of massive stone vessels, some fashioned more than 2,500 years ago. Redfern’s video explores how the team is searching for clues about who created these mysterious jars and what they were used for. To read an in-depth feature on excavations at the Plain of Jars, go to “Letter From Laos: A Singular Landscape.”

Source: Videos > Plain of Jars Mystery | Archaeology Magazine

Categories: Laos Video


Palm leaves to tablet as Lao manuscripts go online

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via ANN, 15 Feb 2018: The Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts is online and more accessible than ever.

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) – The nation’s heritage of palm leaf manuscripts is now available for everyone to read free of charge via their computer, tablet or mobile phone, Director of the National Library of Laos (NLL), Khanthamaly Yangnouvong said recently.

Source: Palm leaves to tablet as Lao manuscripts go online

Once-secret CIA records reveal gift of ancient stone jar

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via the Star Tribune, 01 October 2017: How a stone jar ended up in the United States during the Vietnam War.

Earlier this year, a researcher at Concordia University in St. Paul was combing through declassified CIA records and discovered an intriguing stone legacy of the Vietnam War.

At the height of the conflict, CIA Director Richard Helms received a gift from Gen. Vang Pao, leader of the Hmong forces fighting the CIA-led “secret war” in Laos.

It was a massive, ancient sandstone jar, one of hundreds that jut from the ground of the legendary Plain of Jars in northern Laos. At that time, Vang Pao’s army was fighting a bloody battle with the North Vietnamese on the plain, with U.S. bombers pounding the terrain and thousands of Laotians on the run.

Source: Once-secret CIA records reveal gift of ancient stone jar – StarTribune.com

China’s plan for a commercial port at Luang Prabang

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Asia Times, 16 May 2017: A proposed Chinese plan to develop Luang Prabang into a commercial port that can accommodate 500-ton cargo ships has severe repercussions for the environment and cultural status of the World Heritage site.

China’s plan for the Mekong River envisions a big new commercial port at Luang Prabang, a United Nations designated World Heritage site and heart of the Lao tourism industry

Source: Lao cultural treasure faces river trade dilemma | Asia Times

Lecture: Sacred Caves of Tam Ting, Laos

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Readers in Canberra may be interested in this public lecture by Brian Egloff on the Pak Ou Caves at Luang Prabang, Laos.

Sacred Caves of Tam Ting (Pak Ou), Luang Prabang, Laos: Mystery, Splendor and Desecration

The discussion follows more than two decades of investigation and conservation at the Tam Ting Caves, a Lao national heritage monument. The talk is set within the context of the role of UNESCO and ICOMOS in the protection of World Heritage and the illicit trade in cultural property.

Egloff is but one of the many heritage professionals concerned with the conservation of Tam Ting including the Director General Thongsa Sayavongkhamdy, Benita Johnson the head of the conservation program from the University of Canberra, Samelane Luangaphay of the Department of Heritage, Bounarith of the National Art School, and Kristin Kelly co-author. Brian Egloff is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra and Honorary Associate Professor at The Australian National University. Past roles were Deputy Directory of the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery; Director of the Port Arthur Conservation and Development Project; Associate Professor, University of Canberra; President of ICOMOS ICAHM; and a major input with NSW Indigenous communities regarding their land rights

Members and the public are welcome: This is part of a series of talks organised by Australia ICOMOS. Please do pass this on to those who might be interested.

Refreshments are available appropriate to the talk’s topic! ($5.00 donation appreciated)

Time & Date: 5.00-7.00pm, Thursday 16 March 2017 – Note we start at 5.30pm

Venue – Menzies Room, National Archives of Australia, East Block, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes (enter from Kings Avenue side)
RSVP Marilyn Truscott: mct-oz@bigpond.net.au

Ancient Champassak stupa to be recognised

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A newly discovered stupa in Champassak, thought to be older than nearby Vat Phou, is to be recognised as a Laotian cultural and heritage site.

Head of the Vat Phou World Heritage Office, Mr Oudomsy Keosaksith, spoke to Vientiane Times yesterday during a visit by Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Mr Savankhone Razmountry and his team to the provincial department. He said the stupa had been found at Nongdinchi temple on Phou Malong mountain in Phonthong district.

Source: Vientiane Times

New burials found at the Plain of Jars

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Plain of Jar excavations. Source: AFP, via Bangkok Post 20160404

Exciting new research coming out of our colleagues from Laos and Australia: preliminary research from the Plain of Jars have uncovered burials – both primary and secondary – found in association with the massive stone jars.

Plain of Jar excavations. Source: AFP, via Bangkok Post 20160404

Plain of Jar excavations. Source: AFP, via Bangkok Post 20160404

Another piece in plain of jars puzzle placed by Lao-Australian archaeological team
Shanghai Daily, 04 March 2016

New Findings on Lao Plain of Jars Help Unravel Ancient Mysteries
VOA, 21 March 2016

Ancient burials revealed at Laos’ mysterious Plain of Jars
AFP, via Bangkok Post, 04 April 2016

Stone jars used to dispose of the dead in ancient Laos, Australian researchers say
ABC News, 04 April 2016

One of Asia’s most mysterious archaeological sites, the Plain of Jars in Laos, was used as an ancient burial ground, Australian researchers say.

The Plain of Jars in central Laos is made up of 90 sites, each containing ancient carved stone jars up to three metres tall.

Today the Australian National University (ANU) announced a team from the School of Archaeology and Anthropology had discovered human remains estimated to be 2,500 years old, shedding light on the use of the sites and jars which had been previously unknown.

Full story here.

In Luang Prabang, world heritage listing may have destroyed its soul

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The Haw Pha Bang temple. Source: Skift.com 20160128

Luang Prabang is one of my favourite places in Southeast Asia, but the increased tourism caused by its World Heritage site status is one of the things that is destroying its essence. It’s not just Luang Prabang, however, this article is a critique of tourism management at World Heritage sites.

The Haw Pha Bang temple. Source: Skift.com 20160128

The Haw Pha Bang temple. Source: Skift.com 20160128

UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the Downside of Cultural Tourism
AP, via Skift, 28 January 2016

It is officially described as the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia, a bygone seat of kings tucked into a remote river valley of Laos. Luang Prabang weaves a never-never land spell on many a visitor with its tapestry of French colonial villas and Buddhist temples draped in a languid atmosphere.

But most of the locals don’t live here anymore. They began an exodus from this seeming Shangri-La after their hometown was listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and sold itself wholesale to tourism.

It’s not an uncommon pattern at some of the 1,031 sites worldwide designated as places of “outstanding universal value” by the U.N. cultural agency: The international branding sparks mass tourism, residents move out as prices escalate or grab at new business opportunities, hastening the loss of their hometown’s authentic character to hyper-commercialization. But locals may also prosper and some moribund communities are injected with renewed energy.

Full story here.

Categories: Laos Tourism