Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lao Trip 8.5 - Lao National Museum

You get a free continental breakfast at the Duang Deuane if you make it before 10am. After I got mine, I set out for the Lao National Museum.

Besides being an historical writer and generally a person who knew Lao history better than most, I was attracted to visit the Lao National Museum because of something I’d read in the Lonely Planet Guide:

[the museum] “does serve to sum up the country’s ongoing struggle to come to grips with its own identity.”

I found this to be true and I’ll add that it was quite obvious – at least to me – that the Lao communist government’s perception of the country’s history after winning victory in 1975 is not very clear. Certainly, it is not presented well or logically for foreigners. Also, it seems that the attempt to translate things into English, post-revolution, has been haphazard. There were a lot of post-1975 pictures coming up to present day, but they are mostly of people receiving medals and awards for who-knows-what.

The museum collection is expected to move into grander digs and it is unknown what will become of this classic building which was originally built in the 1920s to serve as the French colonial police commissioner offices.

Coming back to the area of my hotel, I took a beer break at an outdoor food stall situated between the commercial district and the riverside vendors. It has a nice big shade tree.

After the beer, I went back to the Duang Deuane for an air-con break, laundry and shower, getting ready for the second part of my day.

The Bor Pen Nyang had been recommended to me from a falang guy on the Teak Door forum. It has great elevated views of the Mekong, draft Beer Lao, and is frequented by freelancers.

Although I passed a very attractive girl in the stairwell, leaving unfortunately, there were no freelancers at this time of day (late afternoon). However, there were great views of the western-most riverside vendors setting up for the evening’s commerce. Beyond the vendors, close to the river, there were groups of young Lao girls doing aerobics exercises to the beat of “Sexy Music” and “Baila Chili Cha-Cha.” The Nolans tune is from 1981, when my wife was ten years old, and I hadn’t heard “Baila” since the days when I first met Thip, 15 years ago.

On the way back to the hotel, I “ran the gauntlet” of riverside vendors, but didn’t see anything that really grabbed my attention despite the fact that it’s times like these that are opportune for buying gifts.

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