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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 October 16, 2018

      The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

      The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

      It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

      If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

      One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

      Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

      In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

      Why you can’t sleep through the night

      The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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      Stress

      If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

      Exposure to blue light before sleep time

      We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

      While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

      Eating close to bedtime

      Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

      Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

      Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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      Medical conditions

      In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

      The vicious sleep cycle

      The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

      Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

      You get a bad night’s sleep
      –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
      –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
      –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

        You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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        How to sleep better (throughout the night)

        To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

        1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

        What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

        Here are a few suggestions:

        • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
        • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
        • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
        • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
        • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

        2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

        What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

        • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
        • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
        • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
        • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

        3. Adjust your sleep temperature

        Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

        Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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        Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

        Sleep better form now on

        Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

        I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

        As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

        Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

        Reference

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