Belvedere Garden, Vienna

Belvedere Garden is based on the design of the French garden at Versailles. The Garden slopes down gently from the Upper to Lower Belvedere, which is the building with the red roof at the end of the promenade. The Garden has great water features featuring classical or mythical characters spouting fountains of water high into the air. The domed building on the right belongs to a Catholic church, which is not part of the Belvedere.

Vienna is full of statues of mythical, bare-breasted female figures. The statues are highly stylized and, I assume, not expected to be taken seriously as representations of women. What an arm! Looks like this girl could bench press a couple of hundred pounds without taking a deep breath. This statue and a partner out of the frame to the right sit in front of the main entrance to the Upper Belvedere pictured here.

A sign tells visitors this is one of several fountain statues called the Large Cascade. Apparently, when the Garden was built some 300 years ago, a complex system of pipes was installed to force water out of the mouths of the fountains, and keep it flowing downhill towards the Lower Belvedere. Today, I presume electric pumps are doing the heavy lifting.

The Upper Belvedere from the southern entrance to the Garden. I really could not have asked for a nicer day to visit this place.

The main entrance to the Lower Belvedere is shown here. Prince Eugene, the military leader who had the entire Belvedere complex built to serve as his residence in Vienna, used this building as his house; I wonder if he ever set foot in all of the rooms the place has during the years he lived here. I have no idea what he did with the Upper Belvedere. Maybe he had a big family. Today, both facilities serve as museums.

At play in front of the Lower Belvedere.

Pad Tad Ke Botanical Garden, Luang Prabang

Pad Tad Ke Botanical Garden is relatively new, a work in progress that has assembled plants from all over Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia. The garden project is a privately funded non-profit supported by corporate sponsors. A visit to the garden costs around $20, which is a bit pricey for these parts. Any surplus revenue beyond operating expenses is invested in training programs for Laotian and ethnic minority farmers. Experts visit villages to help farmers understand sustainable agriculture, among other things, teaching farmers who practice slash and burn agriculture how to burn without doing lasting damage to the forest, and how to cut down trees in ways that are sustainable.