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Entries in Vientiane (15)


Back In Laos

Wasn't the easiest trip I've ever made, but I'm back in Vientiane, Laos. Couple of days of inventory training for WWF staff and offering help on data analysis and management planning. I really like this place. [NOTE: Brief layover in Frankfurt on SQ 025 turns into an overnight because of a mechanical problem with the plane. Missed both of my connecting flights. Not complaining, I'm just saying...].

That Dam

That Dam, or 'Black Stupa", is an imposing landmark in the center of a quiet roundabout in Vientiane, Laos. The bricks are crumbling and the entire structure is covered with moss and a weeds, but there is still quite a a bit of folklore associated with this stupa. It is called the black stupa because: 1) it was originally covered with gold but the Siamese armies stole it when they invaded the city in 1828 leaving the stupa black, or 2) the stupa is inhabited by a black, seven-headed dragon that came to life to protect the Lao people when Siamese armies entered the city. [NOTE: I guess the dragon was unable to protect both the gold and the people].  


Dragon Prow

The courtyard at Wat Si Saket in Vientiane (see Wat Si Saket, Wat Si Saket (Revisited), and Collateral Damage) contains an old wooden boat with a lovely, and somewhat casually painted, dragon prow. Love the bulging eyes, donkey teeth, and splash of yellow. [NOTE: Four days to Christmas]. 


The Dragon at Haw Phra Kaew

The stairs leading up to Haw Phra Kaew temple in Vientiane are flanked by lovely carved dragons. It's a long story, but the temple was originally built in 1565 by King Setthathirath and then destroyed during the Siamese-Lao war of 1828. The French re-built it (sort of) between 1936 and 1942. [NOTE: The French were supposedly following the orginal 16th-century plan of Haw Phra Kaew, but the resultant structure looks more like a 19th-century Bangkok sĭm, or sanctuary. Still breathtakingly beautiful].


Back To Si Saket

Case and I walked across the border into Laos at Lao Bao, Vietnam yesterday and then spent 11 hours driving to Vientiane. Saw a lot of beautiful karst and bounced through thousands of potholes on Rt. 9. Slept well last night. As a reward for the long road trip, I stopped by Wat Si Saket (see Wat Si Saket and Wat Si Saket (Revisited)) after my meeting at the WWF office. Spent a long time admiring the exquisite wooden statue shown above. [NOTE: Can't believe I never noticed this piece before; must be a new addition].


Monks On A Bus

Self explanatory.  A group of Theravadan monks in the back of a collective taxi during rush hour in downtown Vientiane, Laos. They look quite calm. The traffic was total chaos. 


Si Saket Still Life

Incense and flower offerings at the base of a stupa in the main courtyard at Wat Si Saket (see Wat Si Saket) in Vientiane, Laos. 



Young monk in Vientiane texting with his iPhone in the courtyard of Wat Si Saket (see Sweeping Up and Wat Si Saket). [NOTE: An urgent question to his teacher?]


Wat Si Saket (Revisited)

Spent some time this morning at Wat Si Saket, the oldest Buddhist temple in Vientiane. Have posted on this before (see Wat Si Saket and Collateral Damage), but this is such an amazing place full of exquisite Buddhist iconography that I wanted to share this video footage. [NOTE: Did some bowing and left a donation, perhaps to assuage the karmic repercussions of the U.S. involvement in Laos forty years ago during the Vietnam War.  Or maybe just because bowing is the appropriate thing to do at a Buddhist temple. Music is by Keith Kenniff.]  


Palms for Sale

During my walk this morning, I saw these Caryota palms for sale on the streets of Vientiane. Anybody that buys one of these is going to be very disappointed. Hard to believe that some people think that plants don't need roots to survive. [NOTE: I have seen cycads being sold on the streets in Mexico in the same condition. Sigh.]