3/30 – We are thoroughly enjoying our time in this relaxed and friendly Laotian town, and have decided to stay a few days longer. There are lots of touristy things we could do, like visiting a Hmong village, taking a bus to a waterfall, or learning how to train elephants, but we are content to walk around town, investigate the temples, talk to anyone who speaks English, eat good food, and drink the occasional Beer Lao – the Beer of the Wholehearted People. The local folk are friendly, but not pushy, which is very nice.
Today we walked to the other side of town, along the Nam Than River, where we have not spent much time. Here we found the famous Utopia Bar, where the younger set sits on cushions and stares out at the river while drinking beer and listening to old Bob Marley music. Groovy. We had a beer, then moved on.
We found another wat, which featured the mirrored mosaics that I like. Here is the Tree of Life, and the little Lao people covering the wall behind the Buddha statues.
Here are the funerary urns used by the former kings of Laos, now permanently on display, as there are no more kings.
The hand positions of the Buddhas are important – palms front is an entreaty to stop arguing, and hands at his sides is an entreaty for rain.
We spoke with two orange-clad 17 year old monks, who explained that they were novices until the age of twenty, at which time they would decide whether to stay at the monastery. One was inclined to stay, the other wanted to go abroad to attend university. Jim asked lots of questions about some of the images we’ve seen in the temples, and they were happy to supply the answers. Very personable young men – they appreciated the chance to work on their English, and we appreciated the chat.
In the afternoon, we came upon a long bamboo bridge, that we had to pay 75 cents to cross. I thought someone should be paying us to cross this bridge! On the other side was nothing at all, just bulldozed land. I’m glad they didn’t charge us to walk back.