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  • James Tam 谭炳昌

Laos (4) - Abstract Vientiane 老撾(4)- 包羅萬象

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

Vientiane has become a familiar name in the past few days because of the 49th ASEAN foreign ministers meeting. Lao’s capital Vientiane, aka Viangchan, aka Wiangchan, means City of Sandalwood in Lao to some, City of the Moon to others.

The community is believed to have been established in the 11th or 12th century. Since then, it had been ruled by one lord after another, with a brief spell of unsustainable independence in the 18th century which the Siamese promptly squashed. During WW2, Vientiane surrendered to the Japanese without much of a fight; Laos was a French colony at the time.



Colourful and often painful vicissitudes have left Vientiane with a complex character.

From an abstract mix of old and new, east and west, north and south, a new order is emerging from apparent chaos. The first thing which caught my eye is the bewildering réseau of power cables which enmeshes the city. They appear impossible to maintain, yet are evidently functioning. What’s the secret, I wonder.

The sun sets over Mekong, right in the centre of town, next to a market, glowing amongst strolling lovers and families. It looks far too brilliant to be “real”, at least when viewed through the camera. Can nature be ostentatious?

After sunset, I walk into a French restaurant operated by young immigrants from Nice. Oolala! French cousin is much better and cheaper here than in Paris. If this century is indeed one which will reintegrate the Eurasian landmass, what city is better poised than Vientiane, in body and spirit?

My favourite cables 令我目瞪口呆的電纜




Street Scene  街景

Street Scene 街景

An ostentatious sunset by the Mekong  湄公河畔誇張的日落

An ostentatious sunset by the Mekong 湄公河畔誇張的日落

The Night Market is starting up 夜市剛開

Past Big Shot 過期大人物

Emerging modernity 新舊替換的建設

Street Artist 街頭畫家

Midget Chinese "Ghost Doughnuts" 縮水油條

The label in the museum display says "Training Documents", Five times!I thought it amusing


From the Plain of Jars still full of unexploded bombs 在滿布炸彈的古蹟發掘的古物

A truly enlightened person can nap anywhere 真正開悟的人什麼地方都可以入睡

That's all for Laos! 老撾影集完!

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