Laos

Beautiful rainforests and old French colonial heritage.
My traveling companions through Laos and Cambodia, Alex May (L) and Will Evison. My traveling companions through Laos and Cambodia, Alex May (left) and Will Evison, as we were crossing the Mekong to get to the town of Champasak. From left to right, Mandy, Sarah ( From left to right, Mandy, Sarah ("Bird"), and Alex May, crossing the Mekong. We stayed at the same guesthouse as Mandy and Bird in Champasak, and drinking a lot of Beerlao with them.
Buddha statue on the bank of the Mekong, Champasak. Buddha statue on the bank of the Mekong, Champasak. Riding Elephants, Kiet Ngong, Champasak Province. Riding Elephants, Kiet Ngong, Champasak Province. The prices for the elephants had jumped from $4 an elephant to $10 an elephant in the two years since the guidebook had been published. It was short, rather uncomfortable, and it rained, but I can say that I've ridden an elephant.
Will work for peanuts. The elephants after trotting us about the forest for a couple of hours. Girls bicycling around the village of Champasak, southern Laos. Girls bicycling around the village of Champasak, southern Laos. Laos, like seemingly most Southeast Asians, prize pale skin, and so you see lots of women on bikes and mopeds carrying umbrellas, like so.
Waterfall at Tad Fane resort, Champasak province. Waterfall at Tad Fane resort, Champasak province. We went trekking for a day around here, and saw several stupendous waterfalls, and got leeched. Unfortunately, it was raining quite hard, so I couldn't bring my camera with me to take a better picture than this. Children in the village of Pa'am, Attapeu province. We went on this big mission to visit a rural village off the tourist path, and ended up in Pa'am, in far southeast Laos; after spending about twelve hours driving to get there, we only stayed for about an hour, since it was, after all, just a small village.
SA-3 surface to air missile, Pa'am. Pa'am's village centerpiece was this Vietnam era surface to air missile that sits in the middle of the village. A man came by and hooked a hammock between it and a nearby tree shortly after I took this picture. Will, two Laos, yours truly, and Alex in the back of a tuk-tuk. Will, two Laos, yours truly, and Alex in the back of a tuk-tuk, a two-stroke driven truck that is standard transportation in Thailand and Laos.
Lao children, Attapeu province. Lao children, Attapeu province. After I took the last picture, they were really interested in seeing themselves on the back of my camera. Preying mantis, Don Kong, Laos. Preying mantis, Don Kong, Laos. This was the second preying mantis that I had run across in two weeks; both were scaling walls like ice climbers, using their forelegs like picks.
On the fast boat from the Lao border to Stung Treng, Cambodia. This is leaving Laos -- actually, we'd already left, technically -- and heading down the Mekong on a fast boat to the first Cambodian town. The fast boat was little more than a large canoe with what had to be at least a 120 hp engine on it. That's Will behind me, with a goofy hat that a goofy Englishwoman had just given him. The Luang Stupa, built in 1566, is probably the main monument of Laos, and features prominently on stamps and currency. The Luang Stupa, built in 1566, is probably the main monument of Laos, and features prominently on stamps and currency. The Stupa is the golden pinnacle in the background; the foreground is the wat (Buddhist temple) associated with it, but I don't know its proper name.
Dragon near That Luang, Vientiane. Dragon near That Luang, Vientiane. Statue of a dragon near That Luang, Vientiane. Statue of a dragon near That Luang, Vientiane.
Doorway of the Wat near That Luang, Vientiane. Doorway of the Wat near That Luang, Vientiane.