Tag Archives: Wat

Vientiane – Some Wats and a Palace

4/9 – Today we cruised around some wats. Vientiane is home to over 80 Buddhist temples or wats, many serving as home to orange-clad monks. image

Some are old, and many are new and brightly painted. Here’s a fellow guarding the entrance to the wat across from our hotel.image

There are lots of creatures guarding the wats.

Some intricately carved tree roots being preserved at a temple under renovation.

Lots of stupas, or shrines, some with photos identifying who is being commemorated.

Lots and lots of Buddhas. The mudra with one hand on lap and one hand touching down is Calling the Earth to Witness the Truth.


Some of the traveler blogs we read talk about experiencing “temple fatigue” in this part of Asia, so we don’t try to see every one. We spot the Presidential Palace – tourists not welcome here.image

Here’s a statue of King Anouvong, who lost the kingdom of Ventiane to the Siamese in the 1820s. Even though he lost, he is revered, and candles are lit and offerings left at the base of the statue. image

In an example of quirky urban planning, his back is toward a beautiful park where people sit, and he faces an empty field. Perhaps something grand is planned for the field in the future.image

Luang Prabang – Utopia, a Wat and a Bamboo Bridge

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. image

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. image


Here are the funerary urns used by the former kings of Laos, now permanently on display, as there are no more kings.image


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.image


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. image


It was a beautiful place to be at sunset.image

Luang Prabang – Tak Bat and Mount Phou si

3/27 – This morning we rose at 5am to view the daily ritual of Tak Bat – giving alms to the monks at daybreak.  Every day, the townspeople line the streets near the 33 temples where monks reside, and prepare to feed them sticky rice, crackers and little packets of food.    


The townspeople remove their shoes, and sit so their heads are  lower than the monks’ heads, out of respect.  They dip the food with their hand, and do not make eye contact with the monks, who are meditating as they walk.  The ritual is performed in silence. This is the only food the monks will eat today. Monks eat morning and noon, and then fast until the next morning. image

When the youngest monk at the end of the line has been fed, the ritual is over until tomorrow.IMG_8424


As we were near another wat (temple), we peeked in. Prayer candles are lit in the shrines, and young monks are tending the grounds. A monk is having his photo taken – very unusual.

We spend the day relaxing in town, eating good food and taking in the sights.

In the late afternoon, we walked to Mount Phou si, the highest point in Luang Prabang. There are two set of steps, on opposite sides of the hill. We go up the steps facing the main street – up, up, and up some more!image


You may purchase little birds in reed cages, and set them free at the top of the hill. This will give you merit for your next life. I don’t know what happens to the people who imprisoned the birds in the first place…image

There is a wat at the top of the hill, and a view of both the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River. imageimage


The steps down the back of the hill were rich with Buddha statues.

A peaceful ending to our day.image

Luang Prabang, Laos – a Wat and the Night Market

3/25 – We awoke to the sound of birds outside our window.  The ceiling fan circled overhead.  What a peaceful, easy feeling – we’re not in China anymore!  Yay!  We were too tired to attempt supper last night, so we got dressed and set out this morning to explore Luang Prabang.  The day is overcast and in the 80s – perfect tropical weather.  Flowers abound.  Our guesthouse is quiet, with tables outside.  There are signs reminding us to remove our shoes before climbing the stairs or entering a room.  image

Our quiet little street ends at the Mekong River, a flashback name for those who remember the Vietnam war.  We walk to the main street, where a row of food stand vendors vie for our business.  Sabaidi!  the women call – hello!  They offer all kinds of baguette sandwiches, crepes and coffee – the former French colonial influence is evident.  There are lots of young European backpackers and Chinese tourists here.   We see our Chinese friends from the bus, and sit down to have a chicken avocado baguette and a fresh fruit smoothie.  It’s been a month since I’ve had bread – it tastes so good!  The currency here is the kip, and 10,000 kip equal about $1.25.  To make it easy on my brain, I start removing four zeros to calculate prices.  Food and fruit are very reasonable here – $3.00 total for the smoothie and the sandwich. Fortified, we cross the street to check out the nearest Buddhist temple.  Luang Prabang is home to 33 temples or wats, and support of the monks is very important to the people here. IMG_8305

   After an afternoon nap, we head back out to find some supper.  There are all types of eateries here – Thai, Lao, French, Chinese, and even a Spanish tapas place – from white tablecloth restaurants to street stands.  We find a little cafe and order chicken with basil and rice, and the local beer, Beerlao.  We are given forks – it feels strange to not have chopsticks… Every evening at 5pm, the main street is closed to traffic, and the night market sets up – hundreds of vendors selling everything from clothing, toys, silks, jewelry, artwork of all sorts, to pastry, fresh fruit and spring rolls. Very laid back, no pressure.  Bargaining mandatory.  Here are Buddhas painted on turtle shells.

A relaxing first day – we like it here!