Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Few Random and Pointless Thoughts from Vientiane

Just came back from Vientiane in Lao PDR (or Laos to most of us).

Take away the Buddhist temples, the monks and the cellphones, and this is probably what our country looked like in the 1960s. It certainly feels like some of the smaller cities in some of our provinces. Laid back, not too crowded, friendly smiles, lots of greenery, lots of people walking in the streets, no "real" malls, very much like our provinces in a quaint and innocent kind of way.

I was struck by how much taller we Filipinos are than most of the Laotians I saw. It's the other way around in the US where most people, on average, appear to be taller than we are. Even my cousins who grew up there appear taller. I have no scientific proof but I'm thinking it must be the food we eat. Americans eat better than we do, and we eat better than Laotians do.

Or maybe it's that we eat more meat than they do. Like most people in other countries in the Mekong region, Laotians eat more fruits and vegetables than we do. If we are what we eat, what does that say about us? ;-)

Finally, there's really no accounting for taste. Consider one of the city's landmarks, the Patuxay or Victory Gate of Vientiane. Their version of the Arc de Triomphe in France, I thought it was a pretty spectacular piece of architecture.

But what do I know? Just take a look at their own official description, installed on the wall of the Patuxay itself:

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