Luang Prabang was inscribed as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO in 1995 for its fusion between Lao traditional architectures and French colonial architectures in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yamaguchi-Takada Lab has been collaborating with Department of World Heritage in Luang Prabang (DPL) to integrate Information Communication Technologies (ICT) into the management of World Heritage Site since late 2003. In such background, we Yamaguchi-Takada Lab members visited Luang Prabang to learn our project activities, and history as a World Heritage site during eight days from 3rd September to 10th September.
After the arrival in Luang Prabang, we firstly explored the town of Luang Prabang and walk along the main street. We then moved to have dinner in Antique House Restaurant, high rated restaurant known for Lao traditional food. The taste of all the dishes was delicious. We enjoyed the tasty local Lao food to our heart’s content with ICT team members and found the hospitality in their mind.
(A gathering photo in dinner on Sep 2016)
The second day, we visited Pak Ou Caves, which is one of the most respected holy sites in Lao. The journey to Pak Ou is with by a small boat landing and stairs leading up to the caves. The site has a history dating back thousands of years and is packed with over 4,000 Buddha. We were overwhelmed by the view filled with Buddha and prayed our health and success for Buddha.
(Lab members praying in Pak Ou Caves on Sep 2016)
We then moved to Luang Prabang National Museum built in 1904 during the French colonial era for king of the Kingdom of Luang Prabang and his family. The architecture of the buildings has a mixed of Lao traditional architectures and French colonial architectures. The museum originally was the residence of the king. The royal apartments have been faithful preserved and offer a fascinating glimpse into the lifestyle of the king and his family. We could learn about Lao history and culture.
(Lab members in front of National Museum on Sep 2016)
Next, we visited Wat Xieng Thong temple. It was built 1559-1560 by the Lao King near where the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers join. Until now, it is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument. We were impressed with the mosaic on the wall of the temples which shows the lifestyle of old people and found more calm in our mind.
(Lab members in front of Wat Xieng Thong Temple on Sep 2016)
After visiting the temple, we climbed Mount Phousi, rising 150m above the centre of the town. The hill commands a panoramic view of the town and is popular as a place to watch the sun rise or set over the Mekong River. We were strongly aware of having the safely and fruitful living in the town by the elegant landscape of the town from the top.
(Lab members on the top of Mount Phousi on Sep 2016)
The third day early morning, we experienced Alms Giving Ceremony, traditional Buddhism culture. Luang Prabang is the perfect place to see one of the most sacred Lao traditions, the Buddhist Alms Giving Ceremony. Alms giving, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang, takes place daily as the sun rise, around 5:30AM, so that, we woke up before sunrise to prepare food for the Monks. Our heart feels like it was cleansed by the Buddhism lifestyle we experienced.
(Lab members experiencing Alms Giving Ceremony on Sep 2016)
From the third day to the seventh day during the period from 9AM to 4PM, we helped DPL working in DPL office. Mr. Li, Mr. Ohya and Mr. Hasama assisted the works including data collection, data input, and management of the website. It was good experience for them to be involving in the process of preservation of the world heritage sites, and DPL appreciated their contribution.
(Lab members working with ICT team on Sep 2016)
As a Lao project member, Mr. Poong and Mr. Yu prepared the presentation of the workshop and conducted the research respectively. The Tokyo Tech and DPL Joint workshop was organized on 6th September. Our lab members and Lao project member, Mr. Yu presented his project progress, the application of drone for riverbank management. In addition, researcher Mr. Poong also presented the updating the contents of mobile learning for raising preservation awareness. Other lab members assisted the preparation of presenters and contributed to the smooth progression of the workshop.
(Lab members presenting and joining in the workshop on Sep 2016)
As for activities, at night of the fourth day, Times News Reading seminar and SDG seminar were organized. We firstly started News Reading seminar, the presenter Mr. Hasama shared the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Phillipines after new President was elected. And the next presenter Mr. Li and Mr. Ohya shared the topic about the construction of a new road connecting China and Thailand via Luang Prabang which is expected to finish in 2018. We then started SDG seminar. SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals and consists of 17 goals for achieving the sustainable development all over the world. It is a successor of Millennium Development Goals (MDG). During the seminar, Mr. Yu shared the goal 10 “Reduce inequality within and among countries” he was interested in and the difference between MDG and SDG. Mr. Li shared the goal 14 “Life under water”. He introduced the current condition of marine environment protection and discussed the importance of international cooperation and effective regulation in managing marine environment for future generations. The both seminar provided us with the deep understanding about the world and sustainable development respectively.
(Discussion during the seminar on Sep 2016)
On the next day, the fifth day, we enjoyed the very delicious lunch with DPL in the riverside restaurant. During the lunch, the party for Mr. Poong was organized. Mr, Poong will return to Multimedia University as a professor from December 2016. Mr. Poong stated his gratitude for DPL and lab members. We wish for everybody to have a pleasant future.
(Surprise party for Mr. Poong on Sep 2016)
On the seventh day, after the assistance for DPL, DPL staff organized the farewell party for us. We were extremely pleased with the dinner and enjoyed it thoroughly. During the party, DPL staff appreciated us for our contribution and we were really grateful to them for their continuous support, kindness and hospitality. We are proud of being a member of DPL team.
(Farewell party by DPL staff on Sep 2016)
On the last day, the eighth day, we visited Kuang Si Waterfall before our departure. The most popular of the waterfalls is Kuang Si which is located about 30 kilometers to the southwest of town. The waterfall is excellent way to enjoy Luang Prabang. We really enjoyed and admired natural landscape. It offers the perfect relaxing antidote to busy days in our daily life.inflatable arches
(Lab members in Kuang Si Waterfall on Sep 2016)
Among this year’s lab trip, we could pretty much have enjoyed during the trip with the unique experiences. At last, we would like to share what the lab members thought about the trip.
(A gathering photo in front of the monument in DPL office on Sep 2016)
“I was very surprised with the arrangement of celebration lunch together with DPL and all lab members in Luang Prabang. This will be one of my good memories forever. ” (Researcher, Poong)
“This is my first time to come to Laos, and the wonderful heritage town Luang Prabang. Before I only heard the stories about Luang Prabang but visiting the place gives me much more sensual and culture experience of why this is a charming place. I am truly impressed by the well-preserved townscape and traditional culture, and observed how local people are living here in harmony. ” (D1, Li)
“It was really good experience for me to visit Luang Prabang. I was impressed by the city, especially the harmony of nature and well-organized townscape. It was also precious experience to assist Luang Prabang World Heritage Office through data collection and data input for the preservation of the world heritage sites. I felt that preserving the town is not easy task and it needs much effort. I hope the town will keep the good condition for the future.” (M2, Ohya)
“The lab trip’s value was priceless for me. In Luang Prabang, I could contact with diverse culture that I’m exposed to. Although I have been to Luang Prabang twice as a project member, through interaction with local people during the lab trip, I found people in Lunag Prabang tend to attach importance of history and politeness the same as Japanese. I learned there are many things I still don’t know about Luang Prabang. I could broaden my view by understanding the values that are there. ” (M2, Yu)
“I really appreciate this laboratory that I had an opportunity to visit Luang Prabang for the first time as the lab trip. This stay provided me with great experiences to meet Lao culture, history and people through visiting tourist spots and working at DPL as an assistant. My first impression of Luang Prabang was that it was quiet and peaceful town. Later on, I was captured by a variety of delicious food, kind people and beautiful townscape with great Mekong River. There is no doubt that Luang Prabang is worth visiting as well as preserving its townscape. ” (M1, Hasama)