Being a first-world country, the US is known for donating aid to several countries in need. They went as far as donating building materials to expand infrastructure that they intend to benefit from too.
The US provided Laos with enough funds and supplies to expand the local airport, which they intended to use as an airbase. However, when the supplies and funds arrived, the government decided to use them to build a memorial for soldiers who died in World War II.
What Was The Story Behind the Construction of the Patuxai?
The word Patuxai literally translates to Victory Gate or Gate for Triumph. It is a monument that was built in the center of Vientiane in Laos in 1957. It was erected to honor all the fallen soldiers of World War II and the war with France in 1949.
The monument was completed in 1968 with the funds and supplies donated by the United States. The donation was intended for the expansion of an airport. The Royal Laotian Government decided before the contracts for the airport expansion were signed. Thus earning the nickname; Vertical Runway. (Source: SGold Bach)
There is no mention of this fact on the monument itself. Although locals do know about the monument’s history. (Source: Atlas Obscura)
Who Designed the Patuxai?
The Laotian soldier and self-taught sculptor designed the monument, Tham Sayasthsena. His design was picked out from several submissions sent to the Public Works Department.
He was paid 30,000 kips for his design. Today, 30,000 kips is equivalent $3.14. The whole project was estimated at 63,000,000 kips ($6,600). In May 1975, they renamed the monument in honor of the victory of the Vietnamese Army. (Source: Frommer’s Cambodia and Laos)
The monument was composed of five towers that represented the five principles of coexistence. These also represent the five Buddhist principles; thoughtful amiability, flexibility, honesty, honor, and prosperity.
The monument was recently fitted with a musical fountain system just by the elegant garden donated by China. This became one of the most popular features that brought in locals and tourists alike. (Source: ECNS)
Can You Just Visit the Patuxai?
Yes, you can. The Patuxai is located along Lang Xang Avenue. It is within walking distance from downtown Vientiane, where most tourists stay.
Visitors are even allowed to climb the staircase that leads through the seven-story monument. Inside there are shops, a small museum, and a viewing area on the platform’s top.
If you plan to visit the Patuxai, it is open every Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm and from 8 am to 5 pm during the weekends. It costs 3,000 kips ($0.35) to visit. (Source: Atlas Obscura)
Where is the Museum Located?
The museum is situated on the second floor of the monument. Several statues and pictures of iconic heroes and heroines are housed there. The interior of the monument is decorated with elaborate frescoes and foliage. (Source: Vientiane Times)