Laos: Coup in the Year of the Serpent

Laotians seemed less interested in politics than in the annual Phi Mai festival, during which for three days everybody doused everybody else with scented water to wash away bad luck and celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Serpent, symbolizing wisdom and chaos. Most celebrants used buckets; some favored water pistols. Before long, more serious weapons were in evidence, and Laos was in the midst of a military coup seeking to overthrow the shaky coalition government. Wisdom? That remained to be seen. Chaos? Plenty.

On the Plain. Last week's chain of events...

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