LAOS: Tale of Two Cities

In Laos one rainy day last week, Premier Tiao Somsanith, 47, assembled the top members of his Cabinet and flew north from Vientiane to the royal city of Luangprabang on a matter of some urgency: the burial of the late King Sisavan Vong, who has been preserved in formaldehyde since last October. By long tradition, a Laotian King must be buried in a coffin made from a sandalwood tree that had been growing for centuries for this predestined purpose. This tree had just been found, and Sisavang Vong could at last be laid to rest. But even as Somsanith...

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