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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Khmer Iggy and the Tale of the Vertical Airport

Over a year ago, I took Khmer Iggy on her first international trip outside of Cambodia to Laos. After several  bus transfers and two nights later, we arrived in the capital of Vientiane. 

Vientiane, is by far, the most laid-back capital I've visited, what a welcome change from the hustle-bustle of Phnom Penh! Early morning when we arrived, the streets were quiet and the people we met along as we walked towards our hotel seemed to be friendly and had welcoming smiles on their faces. 

One of the famous landmarks, and arguably the most photographed, in Vientiane is the Patuxai Monument. Also known as the Gate of Triumph and Victory Gate, Patuxai was built to honor those who died during the war against the French for independence. 

Miss Iggy couldn't help but notice its similarity to  France's Arc de Triomphe. It was indeed modeled after this popular French landmark but if you'll look up and train your eyes on the ceiling, you will see that the decorations are entirely of Laotian design and detail, from Buddhist mythical creatures down to the golden bling-blings.

Okay a little trivia here... Do you know that the Patuxai monument is also referred to as the vertical airport? Miss Iggy was very curious to know so we asked an expat who has lived in Vientiane for several years now. Story goes that in the 1960s the US government donated funds to build an airport in the capital. The funds were accepted, however, instead of building an airport, the then-Laotian government used the money to build the Patuxai monument instead. And so,  the nickname vertical airport stays even up to this day.

We also climbed to the top and we were glad we did -- it offers a breath-taking view of the city and is perfect for taking pictures. Luckily, Miss Iggy wasn't afraid of heights and went closer to the rails and enjoyed  the fantastic view.


Hilda said...

The golden ornamentation is fantastic! So's the view of the city from up there. Interesting info about the funding too.

At least the funds were used for a public structure and not pocketed by politicians. Unlike here. :(

fortuitous faery said...

what a curious tale! it must be the only "airport" in the world without any planes! :)

so these must be the laotian photos you've recovered from your computer crash, right?

Sreisaat said...

The golden bling-blings say it all! Hahaha. Kahit sa mga temples at buildings sa Thailand at Cambodia ay di papatalo when it comes to the golden decors.

Conn, yest, it was one of the saved few. I lost really good ones, especially of Miss Iggy crossing the Cambodian-Laos border. I need a new cam :/

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