Xoukiet and Mike have long experience of Laos and have studied its history and culture in some depth. They are in a position to offer insights on things to do and to assist understanding of how things come to be as they are in the city and the country. The main items available to guests as a part of the Jungle House offer are the Vientiane windshield tour and the tour of the COPE Visitor Centre.
The ‘Windshield tour Vientiane
Lao PDR is based on the ancient mandala (power centre) of Lane Xiang, which was established in 1353 by King Fa Ngum. Vientiane was established, by King Setthathirat, as the capital city of Lane Xiang in 1560, and he added the great gold stupa, That Luang, six years later. In 1707, Lane Xiang was split into three lesser kingdoms, Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak, with inevitable loss of local influence. This predisposed them to eventual take-over by Siam in 1779, and the sacking of Vientiane. King Anouvong attempted to reverse that in 1825, but was defeated and Vientiane was almost completely destroyed. In 1893, the French assumed control of the three kingdoms and began the reconstruction of Vientiane city in 1900. Independence came to Laos in 1954, but this was followed by 30 years of conflict as the country became a pawn in the Cold War.
All of these events are reflected in Vientiane of today. A tour encompasses the French city, the Victory Monument (Patuxay) and the That Luang precinct.
COPE Visitors center
Mike established the COPE Visitor Centre in 2008, as a way of trying to contribute to the sustainability of the rehabilitation services. It occupied a former store and offers insights into how the conflict of 1964-73 developed, the impact that it had on the country, the communities and the people, what is being done to remediate the awful legacy and the manner in which COPE operates to rehabilitate physically disabled people in Lao PDR.
The following tours can be provided by arrangement and involve an additional cost:
Silk & weavery tour
Laos is known for the excellence of a number of its products – such as coffee, beer, woodwork and, most especially, its silk. Each province has its unique patterns and styles. A tour takes in a visit to Lao Textiles, the province of Carol Cassidy, where all processes leading to the finished product can be seen, Lani’s Magic Carpets, where beautiful silk carpets are made, The Textile Museum which is beautifully housed in new-but-traditional buildings, the Morning Market silk section, with its incredible richness of materials and colours, and silk outlets within the town. As a part of this, guests can be taken to silk sellers where materials for making clothes can be acquired, and to dress-makers who will make clothing to your own patterns, given sufficient notice (this normally takes three or four days).
Recently, the 21st Century has arrived in Vientiane and new commercial developments are taking place with unbelievable speed, and these are offering Vientiane residents the type of facilities well-known in Western societies. But older markets still exist and offer a great contrast: the Morning Market, perhaps the first of the more formalised markets in Vientiane, is still there. Near Jungle House, there is the traditional Hua Khua Market where Xoukiet performs the daily shop for fresh produce. In addition, there is the Evening Market, the Night Market, the Framer’s Market and the Night Street Market where cooked foods are sold.
Wats and museums Tour
Vientiane is well-endowed with museums, amongst which are numbered the National Museum, Wat Siasket Museum, Wat Ho Phra Keo Museum, Prince Souphanouvong Museum, Kayson Phomvihane Museum, Army Museum, People’s Security (Police) Museum and, of course, the Textile Museum and the COPE Visitor Centre already mentioned.