Gap Years and Backpacking in Laos
Laos, officially known as the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. A mountainous and landlocked country, Laos shares borders with Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west, and Myanmar and China to the north.
Although there are a few grand (but relatively unheard of) attractions, those visitors who are drawn by the laid-back lifestyle and the opportunity to watch the sunsets on the Mekong will simply explain the attraction by revealing that the true meaning of "Lao PDR" is Lao - Please Don't Rush.
Laos is officially Buddhist, and the national symbol, the gilded stupa of Pha That Luang, has replaced the hammer and sickle even on the state seal. Still, there is a good deal of animism mixed in, particularly in the baci (also baasi) ceremony conducted to bind the 32 guardian spirits to the participant's body before a long journey, after serious illness, the birth of a baby or other significant events.
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