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Notes on the Geography of Laos: Luang Prabang

What about the surrounding town?

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Laos: Luang Prabang picture 1

Boats tie up informally.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 2

There are many temples close to the river. At several times of day, monks beat immense bass drums.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 3

The French added precisely surveyed streets--this one parallel to the Mekong but set back one block.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 4

Straight as can be.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 5

The upstream side of the city is confined by the Nam Khan, a stream that parallels the Mekong before joining it, thus creating a peninsula occupied by a third of Louang Prabang. This is the part of the city where efforts to retain a traditional or colonial flavor are most likely to succeed, because there's no room for expansion.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 6

Xiengthong Road is little altered since the French left.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 7

The former French customs house, at the tip of the peninsula, is here under renovation.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 8

Colonial houses, too, survive on this peninsula.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 9

The question is whether to get rid of buildings like this or save them in the name of heritage and tourist dollars. The economic argument is probably more persuasive.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 10

A more recent building with Deco elements.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 11

Another example of European design.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 12

A hotel tries to fit in.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 13

Another view.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 14

The colonial hospital is still in use as such.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 15

Another view.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 16

A bank.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 17

The most active market remains the colonial Talat Dala, across from the hospital.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 18

Inside, bricks of kip are changed.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 19

The market may be traditional, but tastes are changing.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 20

Signs of modernization are everywhere, including not only store-bought clothing but satellite dishes.

Laos: Luang Prabang picture 21

Still farther out, a landscape fully in keeping with the pursuit of economic growth.


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