Next morning we set off with S towards the ‘Buddha Park’ 18 km to the south.
|Khao Lam production line, near Vientiane|
When they were done a woman carved off the charred bamboo and pared the tubes down until they could be split open with the fingers. Her colleague in the red apron dealt with sales.
|S peels the Khao Lam with his fingers|
We soon arrived at Xieng Khuan (other spellings, and indeed other names, are available), usually referred to in English as the 'Buddha Park'.
|Mytholigical scene, Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, near Vientiane|
The resulting collection of what is most kindly called, art naif, is best described in pictures.
|Reclining Buddha, Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, near Vientiane|
The globe near the entrance is the largest and most remarkable of the sculptures.
|Globe, Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, near Vientiane|
Squeezing in through the mouth you enter the underworld from where you can climb crumbling unguarded concrete stairs in semi-darkness through the realms of men and of gods. I enjoyed their version of the 'churning of the ocean of milk' which we had seen so finely carved in Angkor Wat a couple of weeks earlier.
|Churning the Ocean of Milk, inside the globe, Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, near Vientiane|
Emerging into Nirvana (?) beside the tree of life gave a fine view over the park.
|I have no idea what this is|
Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, near Vientiane
The Lao park is now owned and managed by the government. They have not quite mastered ‘exit through the gift shop' but they do have the snack bar well organised and we ended a hot morning with refreshing green coconuts before heading back towards Vientiane.
Next stop was a private textile museum, hidden in one of the quieter outer suburbs among side roads which could have been in a village. All over the world people keep showing us looms and textiles, but unfortunately it is a subject that interests neither of us very much. The buildings, though, were splendid. The museum, run by a brother and sister and their respective families, is housed in beautiful teak buildings, with verandas, carved wood, filigree work and polished floors.
We had one of the large fishes, see above, half a duck chopped into bite sized portions and some chips. It was our last dinner in Laos, and a very fitting finale it was too.
In a small park beside the River is a statute of King Anouvong. Those who know their Lao history, (or read the previous post) might remember that Anouvong rebelled against his Siamese overlords in 1828. The rebellion resulted in the complete destruction of Vientiane and Anouving being hauled off to Bangkok and put in a metal cage where he died a year later.
|Presidential Palace, Vientiane|
Following the Mekong through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
Part 3: Chau Doc
Part 6: Across Cambodia to Siem Reap
Part 7: Siem Reap (1) Angkor Wat
Part 8: Siem Reap (2) Angkor Thom and Other Temples
Part 9: Siem Reap (3) Tonle Sap Lake
Part 10: Luang Prabang (1) The Old Town
Part 11: Luang Prabang (2) Back on the Mekong
Part 12: Luang Prabang (3) Elephants
Part 13: Luang Prabang to Phonsavan
Part 14: Phonsavan, the Plain of Jars and UXO
Part 15: Vientiane (1) Wats, Stupas and a Heavy Buddha
Part 16: Vientiane (2) A Buddha Park and a Fond Farewell