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Explore The Country of Elephants and The Mysterious Plain of Jars

Explore The Country of Elephants and The Mysterious Plain of Jars

Like Cambodia, Laos also belongs to Southeast Asia. Theravada Buddhism has been the official religion for hundreds of years. Buddhism traditions have been maintained constant and for a long term, so the spiritual values influence the material life of local people very strongly and deeply in this country.

Furthermore, the sacredness is expressed in thousands of ancient temple architecture where the Theravada Buddhism tradition is a mixed ethnic architecture from a hundreds of years ago. Those ancient architectures played an important role in human history as well as in the mystery of people. It’s the reason why the country has attracted a lot of tourists visiting each year to discover and enjoy the stunning temples.

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If you are preparing a trip to Southeast Asia to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand and begin in Vietnam, you can catch the flight to Laos from Noi Bai airport in the north of Vietnam and Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. If you want, you can book a Ho Chi Minh City tour to travel in Vietnam and catch the bus to Luang Prabang of Laos to save money and get more travel experience. You will spend 4 hours to transfer from Vietnam to Luang Prabang.

The Mysterious Plain of Jars

Located 30km from the Phone Sa Van village which is the administrative center of Xing province, the Plain of Jars is located on a wide plateau. However, due to the effect of landmines after the Indochina war, there is only a part of the plain revealed to visit and to research as well.

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Although the Plain of Jars was discovered over 1 century ago, how they come to be and what their use is, still remains a mystery to us. From the number of concentric circles which these jars are decorated with, scientists have suggested that they were stone jars with lids once, but most of those lips have mysteriously disappeared. Therefore, there are various theories about the origin of the giant jar rocks.

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    The first hypothesis comes from the legend of the tribe H’mong and Dao people who live at the end of the Truong Son Range. The hypothesis told that the origin of those stone jars lies in the 6th century, and that they were created for the purpose of aging. However, archaeologists said that the actual origin of the stone jars is completely unlike the legend. According to them, the creation of stone jars, and moving them to another place, should have taken a long time, it may have taken decades.

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    The second theory told that those stone jars are the burial place for the dead. This hypothesis was discovered by a France archaeologist, Henri Parmentier, when he found locals selling necklaces made of glass and carnelian during fieldwork. He said that they had stolen the necklace along with some other articles from the stone urns. However, these theories have yet to be proven scientifically. It’s the reason why the field still exists and attract hundreds of thousands of curious tourists every year.

    Luang Prabang by Legendary Mekong River

    Located near legendary Mekong River, Luang Prabang was the capital of Lang Xa country which means the country of elephants centuries ago. Therefore, Luang Prabang has ancient temples as well as old architecture. Because of the purity of ancient Buddhists here, Luang Prabang was always the first choice for foreign visitors when arriving in Laos. Therefore, it would be a major shortcoming if you do not enter on the top of Phousi hill which means Colored Mountain in Laotian language when visiting Luang Prabang.

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    From the top, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the ancient city. The top of Phousi 80m high. In 1804, Annourot people built a space tower which is a common symbol of the Buddhism of Laos. The tower is 20 meters high. In order to increase the sacredness and mysteriousness of the place, the monks built a small temple and a shrine at the foot of the tower.

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      Besides Luang Prabang and Plain of Jars, Laos has a lot of beautiful and awesome places to visit and enjoy such as Vientiane, Xiengkhoang, Thakhek, Savannakhet, Pakse, and Champasak. Furthermore, Laos is quite cheap and easy to travel to, therefore you can travel by your own but if you do not have much travel experience, you should book a Southeast Asia tour.

      Featured photo credit: NipponNewfie via pixabay.com

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      Angella Copper

      Professor of Hanoi University of Science and Technology

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      Last Updated on February 15, 2019

      Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

      Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

      In Personal Development-speak, we are always talking about goals, outcomes, success, desires and dreams. In other words, all the stuff we want to do, achieve and create in our world.

      And while it’s important for us to know what we want to achieve (our goal), it’s also important for us to understand why we want to achieve it; the reason behind the goal or some would say, our real goal.

      Why is goal setting important?

      1. Your needs and desire will be fulfilled.

      Sometimes when we explore our “why”, (why we want to achieve a certain thing) we realize that our “what” (our goal) might not actually deliver us the thing (feeling, emotion, internal state) we’re really seeking.

      For example, the person who has a goal to lose weight in the belief that weight loss will bring them happiness, security, fulfillment, attention, popularity and the partner of their dreams. In this instance, their “what” is weight-loss and their “why” is happiness (etc.) and a partner.

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      Six months later, they have lost the weight (achieved their goal) but as is often the case, they’re not happier, not more secure, not more confident, not more fulfilled and in keeping with their miserable state, they have failed to attract their dream partner.

      After all, who wants to be with someone who’s miserable? They achieved their practical goal but still failed to have their needs met.

      So they set a goal to lose another ten pounds. And then another. And maybe just ten more. With the destructive and erroneous belief that if they can get thin enough, they’ll find their own personal nirvana. And we all know how that story ends.

      2. You’ll find out what truly motivates you

      The important thing in the process of constructing our best life is not necessarily what goals we set (what we think we want) but what motivates us towards those goals (what we really want).

      The sooner we begin to explore, identify and understand what motivates us towards certain achievements, acquisitions or outcomes (that is, we begin moving towards greater consciousness and self awareness), the sooner we will make better decisions for our life, set more intelligent (and dare I say, enlightened) goals and experience more fulfilment and less frustration.

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      We all know people who have achieved what they set out to, only to end up in the same place or worse (emotionally, psychologically, sociologically) because what they were chasing wasn’t really what they were needing.

      What we think we want will rarely provide us with what we actually need.

      3. Your state of mind will be a lot healthier

      We all set specific goals to achieve/acquire certain things (a job, a car, a partner, a better body, a bank balance, a title, a victory) because at some level, most of us believe (consciously or not) that the achievement of those goals will bring us what we really seek; joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

      Of course, setting practical, material and financial goals is an intelligent thing to do considering the world we live in and how that world works.

      But setting goals with an expectation that the achievement of certain things in our external, physical world will automatically create an internal state of peace, contentment, joy and total happiness is an unhealthy and unrealistic mindset to inhabit.

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      What you truly want and need

      Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious (superficial) goals to discover and secure what we really want.

      Sadly, we live in a collective mindset which teaches that the prettiest and the wealthiest are the most successful.

      Some self-help frauds even teach this message. If you’re rich or pretty, you’re happy. If you’re both, you’re very happy. Pretty isn’t what we really want; it’s what we believe pretty will bring us. Same goes with money.

      When we cut through the hype, the jargon and the self-help mumbo jumbo, we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs:

      Joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

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      Nobody needs a mansion or a sport’s car but we all need love.

      Nobody needs massive pecs, six percent body-fat, a face lift or bigger breasts but we all need connection, acceptance and understanding.

      Nobody needs to be famous but we all need peace, calm, balance and happiness.

      The problem is, we live in a culture which teaches that one equals the other. If only we lived in a culture which taught that real success is far more about what’s happening in our internal environment, than our external one.

      It’s a commonly-held belief that we’re all very different and we all have different goals — whether short term or long term goals. But in many ways we’re not, and we don’t; we all want essentially the same things.

      Now all you have to do is see past the fraud and deception and find the right path.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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