Thursday, November 29, 2007

Twilight Trip to Buddha Park

Our tuk- tuk drivers, tuk-tuks are motorized rickshaws, are assigned to our street and spend most of their time between rides hanging out near the guest house since we are their main customers. They often come with us into the shops and return to pick us up when we are done.

The other night they were having a barbeque beside the road with some people on the street which is so quiet it doesn’t need to be shut off for the neigbhorhood to have a block party. The lady who does our laundry across the street comes running over with it late at night when we return. We go to a yoga demonstration in which her young daughters perform. Her husband drops us off at the bus depot for our trip out of town, making sure we get on the right bus. It feels like we have been dropped into a family in our month here.

A friend has recommended we visit Buddha Park outside the city. We hit the morning market in the afternoon, when it a little cooler, and took longer than we planned. We spent all our time in the Lao textile section. Lao textiles are so lovely and there are so many varieties old and new to fondle and admire. On my last visit I took many back home, planning to make clothes from them but when I got home, I was unable to cut them up, so I hung them up and admired them. This time I get an antique piece, made on a very narrow loom about 8 inches wide, but it is a fine weave and one of the traditional patterns that are so intricate. On the faded red border there is a simple, effective but worn patch. This is a piece to cherish.

So when we finally leave for Buddha Park it is 5 pm. The breeze is wonderful but by 5:30 pm we are still not there. What we don’t realize until later is that it is 25 km out of town. Where is it? we wonder and then we hit the rural area and potholed dirt roads. It is getting dark. Finally we arrive.
Buddha Park is not what we imagined and my Buddhist friend is at first a tad annoyed. It is thoroughly bizarre and wonderful, I think, a wild combination of Hindu and Buddhist statues and images, all massive, ornate and cast in ferro-concrete. The whole thing we find out was designed by a self-styled holy man, Louang Pou Bounleua Soulilat, who felt a sculpture garden would be a way to spread his philosophy, which is it seems a blend of a number of religions. It is an idea with some merit, the architectural base, I mean.

So I rush around anyway taking pictures since it took us so long to get there. Only the first picture of the lying Buddha turns out, for all the others only the flash works. Well we say we didn’t have to pay an entrance fee because everyone went home. We wondered why the tuk-tuk driver didn’t warn us it was too late it get there in time to see the statues, but then we realize this was the longest trip we are likely to make, the trip costs $30.00 and is our biggest transportation cost in Loas, even the bus trip to Van Vieng only cost $4.00 and then it all falls into place. The ride back is cold with the wind whipping around us but we agree the experience is something we will dine out on.

Photos: Lying Buddha; Art from Buddha Park



Blogger Ruth said...

I have enjoyed reading your recent posts. Glad you are back.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Desmond said...

Any chance of seeing snow this coming Christmas? :) Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2008

5:51 PM  

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