Sunday, September 30, 2012

Buddhy hell



I just realised I missed a trick by not using that title for the Ten Courts of Hell blog more than a year ago, so I had to get it in somewhere.

If you're the sort of free-thinking or stubborn traveller who prefers not to base their plans and schedules on the experienced advice of others, you might have made the mistake of spending more than one night in Laos' tedious capital Vientiane. But have no fear, there's a slightly unusual sculpture park constructed by an exiled shaman just an hour's bumpy bus ride away, which is well worth the trip to fill all those unforgiving minutes. Maybe I'll listen next time.


Xieng Khuan
(ວັດຊຽງຄວນ)




The single sign at the entrance to the Buddha Park wasn't very helpful, as it seems the Laos socialist government isn't too concerned about commemorating an artist who was forced out of the country for his alternative views. They promptly took the park over and it's tentatively close to becoming a tourist attraction, if anyone could be bothered to make the trip.



Though it seems to be mainly a slightly inconvenient exercise ground for cattle.
The confusion on my face is genuine. I did not expect this



I know who this guy is, but the rest are either attempts to depict legitimate characters from the Buddhist pantheon or twisted brainwrongs borne out of a hallucinogenic fever



I'm going with the latter



Couldn't all buildings be improved by entering through a giant mouth?
I'm just disappointed he didn't follow through with an exit anus



Inside is some sort of tomb for dead statues, with no means of access.
I'm starting to wonder if this guy was genuinely mentally ill



Monks = interactive scenery


Vientiane
(ວຽງຈັນ)




Pha That Luang is the city's most iconic monument. So iconic in fact, it closes at 4PM to give the other sights a chance, so I had to make do with some over-wall stealth shots when I arrived at 16:02. The Lao people are famously lax in their attitude to timekeeping, but I notice they're very punctual when it comes to home-time.



Patuxai Victory Gate, photographed from tuk-tuk.
I wasn't going to hang around longer than necessary



Wat Hopha Kaew. Old and crumbly beats gaudy gold any day



Some parts of these statues are noticeably shinier as visiting Buddhists touch them for luck. I notice the breast area is particularly gleaming. It was nothing to do with me



Morbid cat at Wat Si Saket



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