Laos: breathtaking views in a land where nature still stands in all its glory, with the morning mists that cover the mountains in the north and with the dramatic sunsets in the highlands; a life whose rhythm is punctuated by times of rural life and by the flow of the Mekong River and the other hundreds of waterways; the scent of France and of colonialism that left some memories becoming, over time, even pleasant.
It is also the country that still has to contend with a tragic past and a record that nobody envies and definitely nobody would be proud. The Guinness Book of Records is in fact referred to Laos as the most bombed nation in the world, with an average of ten tons of bombs dropped per square kilometer or, if you prefer, more than 225 thousands kilos for every inhabitant. A country whose citizens are facing with an unknown number of unexploded mines that even today, after more than 40 years since the end of those cowardly and indiscriminate bombing, is violating the innocence of children and the hard work of the farmers.
But is Laos nowadays only this? Is it just a nation, compressed among five uncomfortable neighbors and landlocked? Is it just the country that is embodying the bad American consciousness inserted in a beautiful natural setting? Is it just a nation still scarred by a war whose effects still produce explosions, mutilations, pain and suffering that had rather to lock itself for years, in a form of insulation, to heal its wounds?
Definitely not. Laos is now turning into a modern country that is learning to live with the ghosts of its past and that is producing great efforts to catch up with the rest of the region; it is a nation proud of its past and in need of a development possibly leaving their identity surviving untouched.
It is certainly a tourist destination still unknown who will be exhibiting the beauty of unspoiled landscapes offering the opportunity to get in touch with a traditional and intimate way of life, that is not changing since some tens of centuries and that makes this country a gem to discover.
So Laos intends to present itself to the world showcasing its most precious jewels: its ancient culture, its ethnic groups, his life outside of time, the pain of his latent terrible memories, the spirituality of his temples and the sober splendor of those sites that UNESCO declared World Heritage Site.
To appreciate the subtle charms of this nation visitors must be discreet; just so can be captured all the beauty of the temples that testify the ancient splendor of the Lao kingdom and you will love the wild landscapes of the mountains, where, in a basic and bucolic frame, is living people who probably don’t know yet our “civilization”.
To paraphrase the famous French colonial saying, indicating Laotians as the people that, where other Indochinese carry on rice processing, they were limited to listening to the sound of rice growing, so who is intending to visit Laos must prepare himself to grasp nuances and odors, to enjoy a sense of spirituality and mysticism which oozes from every corner, from every market and every sacred image. Simply must be prepared, to “listen to the Laos growing”.