Vientiane at Night

Today, it was raining and after days with over 35 degrees and high air humidity this was quite pleasing. The rain stopped with sunset and i decided to take a trip with my bike around town. I still haven’t seen Pha That Luang although it’s quite close to the place where I’m living. Pha That Luang is the most important national monument in Laos – a symbol for both buddhism and Lao sovereignty.

It was already around 8.30 pm and dark night (sun sets around 6.30 p.m.) when I finally passed Pha That Luang. The stupa was illuminated with spotlights and I decided to go a little further to buy some fresh hot soy milk (very yummi!) and then come back to have a closer look. But once I came back (around 9 p.m.) all spotlights were turned off and the most important monument of Laos was sleeping in the dark  (the first picture). My first reaction was disappointment. I’m so used and spoiled to be able to see during the night – with all the street lightning and spotlights we have in Europe. But then, I thought, that there’s really no sense in spending a lot of money and resources in illuminating a place for the ten visitors who pass at night. On the other hand, the president’s palace (which I passed later on) is illuminated overnight – probably because it’s situated in the centre of town? I don’t know.

My observation made me think about some discussions I had with friends back in Europe. We wondered how much electricity is used for lightning streets, monuments and other public infrastructures at night – and is it really necessary? Can’t we save some of our money for better things, preserve resources and maybe even sleep better??? I don’t say we should turn off all lights. Just the really unnecessary ones (and here we go: who says what is unnecessary?). Oh, and of course please turn off all the lightning that shines inside my room at night when I want to sleep!!!


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