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       I haven't read everything about Fa Ngum, but a couple of websites related the same general history. The stories weren't exactly the same, so they weren't copies of each other. however, both sites said Fa Ngum was a child when he was thrown out by the family. I will keep reading.

His son and his Siamese wife brought in people from Ayuttaya to advise Fa Ngum. Eventually, she had many of her family in the Lao military/government. She had her son marry a woman from Ayuttaya, so his children were of Ayuttaya. This practice repeated for many generations, which is why a Prince of Ayuttaya, one of the rulers of Chiang Mai, became the Lao King when the old King (his father) died. This is why Ayuttaya trusted him with the Emerald Buddha and why he had it and could take it to Luang Prabang when he became King.

The kings of NanChao, SukoThai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Laos, Cambodia and Ayuttaya were all the same family. Your friend also said this just a few days ago.

What killed Fa Ngum's wife doesn't really matter, it happened as Angkor collapsed and his army grew weaker. Fa Ngum needed an alliance with Ayuttaya to rebuild his army and finish the war. So, he married a princess from Ayuttaya.

We stayed in Vientienne last night. My wife kept trying to speak Lao, but was laughing at her own mistakes. Trying to remember the Lao way to say something or the Lao word for everyday stuff. Ice was a real problem, because we always use it in our drinks and the waiters never brought ice. We always had to ask. I was surprised that the Lao people are not as polite as the Thai. People never said thank you and five or six beggars walked straight to me, poked me or pushed me and demanded money. The hotel manager and her people had to actually push one man away, because he wouldn't quit. Thai people say thank you all day and Thai beggars stand politely to the side until you look at them, then they ask politely. If you say no, they go away. Yesterday we saw a Lao boy kicking his very young brother because his brother was afraid to go home alone. My wife was really very surprised and asked him to behave as a gentleman and take his brother home. Being American, I was more blunt. I said "stop acting like an animal, act like a human being'.

As for "shemales", we have many in the US, just like Thailand or anywhere else in the world. I was surprised that I didn't see any in Vientienne, then I remembered that one giude book says the communist governments of Laos and Vietnam put gays in prison.

Vientienne is bigger than I remember from 30 years ago. The Patuxay Park monument is painted now and is open to the public. People couldn't go close then, because it still wasn't finished. At that time, one of the American Attache's called it "the world's biggest vertical airport". When I asked why, he said, for many years, the Lao government asked the USA for money and materials to build an international airport. After many discussions and a few years consideration, US aid was granted, so concrete, tools, trucks and heavy equipment was shipped to Laos and millions of dollars were paid to build the airport. However, the Lao government decided to build the Patuxay Monument from those materials, so all that money disappeared into private accounts.

Which reminds me. Some weeks ago you mentioned UXO's, so I thought I should remind you that America wasn't the only group fighting a war. The USA dropped bombs, but didn't have any reason to send troops to plant land mines. The people who used land mines were French, Vietnamese, Viet Cong, Prathet Lao, the Royal Lao Army and perhaps the Chinese. According to US records, we didn't give any land mines to the Hmong, or drop any mines on Laos, just bombs.

The bombs were ours, the mines belong to someone else.

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