National Geographic : 1960 Jan
PETER ROBINSON (ABOVE) AND JOHN J. REGAN( NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Awninged Oxcarts Thread Terraced Fields Near Vientiane, the Lao Capital Laos has no railroads and few highways. Several airlines serve the country. In some remote areas elephant caravans carry loads, but most cargo moves by river boat, oxcart, or porter. Outsized wheels lift these wagons above muddy roads in monsoon season. Yao tribesman, from the hills of northern Laos, visits Muong Sing to barter peanuts and maize for rice and bright clothing, such as his red turban. 56 office, created originally to attend to all kingly duties that fell beneath the personal attention and dignity of the king. Actually, since the king is ailing and Prince Phetsarath, the Second King, is getting old, the greater part of the royal duties devolve upon Crown Prince Savang Vatthana, who last September was named regent (page 58).* The royalty, plus a cluster of prominent fami lies, constitutes the elite of Laos. Officials at top level are drawn from these and from good families a little lower on the scale. There is good reason for this: virtually no one else is competent to do the work. Second ary officials, also, are usually related by blood or marriage to the prominent families. Of this elite, many are widely traveled men. There is a small but slowly emerging middle class composed of government clerks, minor bank officials, store clerks, and others of sim ilar occupations. After these come the peas *As we go to press, news is received of the death of King Sisavang Vong and the accession of the Crown Prince.