Book review: Eternal Harvest, by Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern

“Laos is a land steeped in cliché: of gilt temples and golden Buddhas, shimmering rivers and dazzling sunsets,” journalist Karen Coates writes in her guide to the real Laos, grounded in a seven-year-plus investigation. Read at the South China Morning Post..

Spirit city: Lao PDR bizarre sculpture trail

On the temple trail, one marble marvel soon begins to resemble another, and that’s why people talk about feeling “templed out” and experiencing “temple fatigue”. If you want to see something that revives your curiosity, try paying a pilgrimage to Laos’ Xiang Khouan (Spirit City) or Buddha Park.

This bizarre sculpture trail that swallows an area the size of a football field exists outside Lao PDR’s capital, Vientiane, near the Friendship Bridge linking the country to Thailand. Read more at the Malaysia Star…

Vang Vieng tubing

As sports go, in terms of sophistication “tubing” is up there with darts.

If you want to go tubing, all you need is a tractor tyre’s inner tube and a peaceful river. Then you plonk yourself slap-bang in the middle of the tube, legs dangling over the edge, and float spread-eagled downstream. The object of the exercise: grab as many cold beers as possible, flirt with the maximum number of available strangers and try not to drown… Read more at Thailand’s Nation newspaper…

Top 5 Obscure Asian Attractions

Nobody talks about the ‘mystique of the Orient’ any more. It’s just not PC. What’s more, parts of Asia have been so heavily developed that there’s little room left for mystique. Bali’s governor recently opined that his lush birthplace might soon become a concrete jungle.

Still, Asia has its share of uncanny and sometimes quite odd attractions. Here come five. Prepare for ‘pinch me’ Alice-in-Wonderland surreal-ness. Read more…

Seven sites for sore eyes

These Asian marvels might not be the best known but the ‘wow’ factor is huge, writes David Wilson.

Forget the Taj Mahal and all the other established, over-run Asian wonders. The East boasts a swathe of heavyweight attractions that possess equal charm but have yet to catch up on the glamour and recognition front. Read more at The Brisbane Times…

July 23, 2009

Rattled by a Prabang prang

An eventful tuk-tuk journey in Laos has David Wilson riding his emotions.

No sudden screeching. I see the crash coming a long way off from the back of my tuk-tuk: a sheet-metal “three-wheel” auto-rickshaw stinking of petrol.

We have only just burst free from the congestion bedevilling the Laos temple city of Luang Prabang and begun our journey along the sleepy road that scythes through the paddy fields, towards the Mekong.

Advertisement: Story continues below

Now I am braced for the apparently inevitable, agonisingly slow and faintly absurd collision, which – hang on – could yet be averted. All the 50-something moped driver with the slicked-back hair must do is swivel his head, hit his dusty Honda’s brakes. Or swerve.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald…

March 15, 2009

Take the (inner) tube

As sports go, in terms of sophistication “tubing” is up there with darts. If you want to go tubing, you just need a tractor tyre’s inner tube and a lazy river. Seated in the tube, legs dangling over the edge, you just roll downstream, grabbing as many cold beers as possible and flirting with strangers while remembering not to drown.

I know the rules because I have come to the world’s tubing capital, Vang Vieng in northern Laos. Essentially three streets and a bus station, Vang Vieng teems with “TV bars” blasting out Friends in a loop that gets incredibly tedious unless you order a “happy pizza”, which may drive you completely nuts. So tubing it is, then. Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald…


November 16, 2008