While South and North Vietnamese troops are locked in combat in Southern Laos, the confrontation in the rest of the country remains much the same.
While South and North Vietnamese troops are locked in combat in Southern Laos, the confrontation in the rest of the country remains much the same. Communist and government units face each other across a river, a valley or a mountain - but rarely make military contact.
VISNEWS cameraman Neil Davis journeyed up the Mekong River to take this film showing government forces on one side and the pro-Communist Pathet Lao on the other. The film was shot in an area between 9-18 miles (15 and 30 kilometres) north-east of the royal capital of Luang Prabang.
10 miles (15 kms) north of Luang Prabang the peaceful war becomes evident. The government forces, patrolling in their sampans, keep close to the western bank which they control. For the eastern bank suddenly becomes hostile territory - controlled by the Pathet Lao whose troops can be seen relaxing near the water's edge.
While Laotians do not seem to take the conflict seriously, it is a different matter with religion. They are all devout Buddhists. About 18 miles (30 kilometres) above Luang Prabang on the west bank of the Mekong is one of the most famous and oldest Buddha caves in Laos.
Government troops make pilgrimages to pray at this 300-year-old shrine, surrounded by hundreds of statues of Buddha brought by earlier pilgrims including the King of Laos.
In between praying for health and prosperity as well as peace, the watch on the Mekong continues. An aging gunboat stands guard, but it is more for show than combat. Its sole armament, a recoilless rifle, seldom has been fired.
However, the war does stutter into life late in the afternoon. In what is known as the '5 o'clock Special,' a lone government T-28 aircraft comes over to bomb the Communist each bank. But such is the state of war in Laos it often misses the Communist positions.