HISTORY OF VIENTIANE
The history of Vientiane is well documented in Wikipedia. Following is a summary of the history of Vientiane:
- Vientiane was an early Khmer settlement centred around a Hindu temple.
- Khmer in the 11th and 12th centuries, replaced/assimilated by Lao and Thai people from Southern China.
- King Setthathirath officially established Viangchan (Vientiane, Vien Tiane) the capital of Lan Xang in 1563
- In 1779, Viangchan was conquered by the Siamese general Phraya Chakri and made a vassal of Siam.
- Destroyed by Siamese armies in 1827
- Viangchan was disappearing into the forest, when the French arrived. Passed to French rule in 1893
- French rebuilt ViangChang and rebuilt or repaired Buddhist temples such as Pha That Luang, Haw Phra Kaew.
- During World War II, Viangchan fell to Japanese forces.
- March 1945 French paratroopers reoccupied Viang Chun.
- Laotian Civil War
- In 1975 Pathet Lao control Vientiane. French left many colonial buildings behind.
- In 2009 Southeast Asian Games at Vientiane
Since the Pathet Lao communists took control of Laos at the end of the Vietnam War, Laos became a communist country. There is some disagreement of this term. Officially the "People's Democratic Republic of Lao" PDRL or Laos (as the west terms the name of the country). Musician Frank Zapper says: "communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff".
Today, Vientiane is booming. New hotel accommodation developments, advertising billboards of many western brands, mostly imported from China, grand buildings, luxury hotels, casino and luxury cars are everywhere. Cheap compact four door, left hand side drive sedans cost about $9,000. GDP is about US$1,700. Wealth in Vientiane is offset by poverty in Lao's provinces. Many petrol stations in Vientiane are Vietnamese. Vientnam has a strong influence in Laos.
The gap between the wealth in Vientiane and that of the poorer provinces of Laos is evident with travels through Laos. Many foreign aid organisations are based in Vientiane.
CULTURE OF VIENTIANE
The first language, culture and cuisine of Vientiane is Isaan. Sometimes spelt Isan.
Unlike the Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge communist regime in neighbouring Cambodia, religion is allowed in Laos, with most people being Buddhists.
Seeing the Hindu statues park near Vientiane is a worthwhile thing to do in Vientiane.