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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 December 9, 2019

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

      Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

      Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

      1. Get Rationally Optimistic

      Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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      This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

      In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

      The result: no more mental stress.

      2. Unplug

      Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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      How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

      It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

      Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

      3. Easy on the Caffeine

      Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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      Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

      4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

      That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

      How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

      • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
      • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
      • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

      While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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      5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

      This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

      The result: mental stress will be gone!

      So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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      Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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