December 25, 2008

281206 the quiet in the land

The former Royal Palace, now used as the National Museum:


Elsewhere on the grounds directly across from Hor Prabang, a huge statue of the last king ever crowned, King Sisangvangvong:


Behind him is the former Winter Palace that now houses the Royal Ballet Theatre.

ຊ້າງສາມຫົວ xang saam hua (lit. elephant three head) under a parasol,
the symbol of the former kingdom of Lane Xang Hom Khao (lit. million elephants umbrella white)...


...with each head of Erawan representing the former kingdoms of Luang Prabang, Vientiane & Champasak...

PC270182 eclipsed by the national flag of the Lao People's Democratic Republic:


This was the closest the cat ever made it into the museum. Instead, while hunting for the loo, it stumbled upon this...


...& ended up entering the former palace from the back...


...& spent hours viewing these works on display for the exhibition entitled The Quiet in the Land. In an adjacent building, there was more...


...a series of photos documenting the first two years (2004 & 2005) when vipassana medition training was reintroduced for the Luang Prabang sangha & held at Wat Pa Phon Pao, with support from the lay people of Ban Phanom:


It has since become an annual 10-day retreat for final year (Matthayom 6) monk & novice students of the Buddhist high school in Luang Prabang. The cat didn't manage to finish browsing through all the exhibits before the 4PM closing time, & would return the next day - this was one of the highlights of the cat's visit to Luang Prabang.

The exhibition also featured two documentary films. All That's Solid Melts into Air (Karl Marx) by Vong Phaophanit & Claire Oboussier was a collection of all sorts of little details of the sights & sounds of Luang Prabang town - interesting enough for the cat to watch twice. On the other hand, A Short Film for Laos by Allan Sekula started off cryptically with some cowboy western scene (?! *scratch head*), followed by the removal of a drainage tube from someone's (Sekula's?) leg post-surgery (??!!), before abruptly switching to a Lao man in Tham Piew describing (scroll to 1:38 in this video) how on 24th November 1968, almost 400 Lao civilians sheltering from American bombing raids on civilian targets during the second Indochina war (aka. Vietnam war) were obliterated when two of the four missiles launched at the cave found their target (according to the official Lao version of history). The film then moved on to cover the Plain of Jars (also in Xieng Khouang province like Tham Piew) & the blacksmiths of Ban Had Hian, a village near Luang Prabang airport. Most of the few visitors who'd stumbled upon this exhibition walked out of the tiny screening room moments after entering, & the museum staff keeping watch in a corner did his job in his dreams :P

Museum cat happily dozing in the quiet of the land that is Laos - also a member of the museum staff?


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