Laos: Green Confusion

All last week Laos' torpid, dusty administrative capital of Vientiane swarmed with crowds—but not in panic. Along the banks of the slow-moving Mekong River there were foot races, boxing and wrestling matches. At night the temple courtyards were filled with slim girls dancing to haunting flute music. A torchlight parade wound through the city, and everyone agreed that the most magnificent floats were those of the Royal Laotian Army.

In their march past before King Savang Vatthana and pro-Western Premier Boun Oum. the armed forces looked trim and efficient. But foreigners were warned not to leave the capital because their...

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