Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A few minutes from Luang Namtha

Overlooking Nam Ngaen village and its water-filled rice fields from That Phoum Phouk
Today I'm kicking off a series of photos from around Laos, following my recent two-week visit to this beautiful country. I'm starting in the mountainous northwest region of Laos where I visited Luang Namtha, the centre for ecotourism activities in the Nam Ha protected area, as my first port of call. A few minutes outside of town and you are transported into a world of watery rice paddies, rich-green tree-covered mountains, fast-flowing rivers and a host of friendly ethnic villages. On our first afternoon we visited the That Phoum Phouk stupa, which gave us some lovely views over the surrounding countryside. On a small hill, the original stupa was constructed in 1628 but was destroyed in 1966 when it was bombed by the Americans. The new stupa was constructed in 2003. The village next door, Nam Ngaen, is a Tai Dam minority village and we joined its inhabitants for some rice-planting, as well as sampling the lao lao whisky of the men tilling the fields.
The original 1628 stupa at That Phoum Phouk lies in broken pieces on the floor
The 2003 version of the stupa with its original inscription stone in front
Some of the village women plant the rice seedlings under umbrella cover
Sheltering from the sun under their umbrellas, these women seemed to enjoy our brief visit
This rotavating machine was much harder to handle than it looks
One of the youngsters planting rice, rather than attending school
Young and old are engaged in rice planting at the village of Nam Ngaen
Time to leave, which is why I look a bit unhappy!


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