National Geographic : 1961 Aug
argy must be true, when we were invited to take a trip with the Prime Minister. Could we be ready in 15 minutes? His Highness had decided only two hours ago to go out of town, and he was eager to be off. Prince Wears Ten-gallon Hat And so, after a flight southeast to Savan nakhet, we found ourselves bouncing along in a Jeep right behind the Land-Rover of Prince Boun Oum of Champassak, a tall man of Churchillian mien in a bush jacket and a ten-gallon hat from Texas. From his shoulder bag peeked the seven-inch barrel of a Luger. The temperature rose to 105°. With our company of soldiers, we made one long col umn of reddish dust. In Keng Kok, the City of Silkworms, the Prime Minister bought fried chickens and fried cicadas, and two notebooks for me. Then we drove on, until there was no more 244 road and we traversed dry rice fields, bounc ing across their squat earth walls. It was a spleen-crushing day. An hour of bouncing, a brief stop in a village to inspect a new school or dispensary. More bouncing, another stop, a new house for teachers, a new well. Then off again, rushing to keep up. We were miserable. But our two Jeep mates - Keo Viphakone from Luang Prabang and John Cool from Beaver, Pennsylvania- were beaming under their coatings of dust. Together they had probably done more than any other men to help push Laos toward the 20th century constructively. Mr. Keo, once a diplomat in Paris and Washington, was Commissioner of Rural Affairs. John, an engineer and anthro pologist with a doctorate from the London School of Economics, headed the rural devel opment division of USOM, the United States Operations Mission administering U. S. aid.