Reclining Buddha statue
We rented a motor scooter and went to Buddha Park. Buddha Park, or Wat Xieng Khuang is a collection of concrete sculptures depicting Buddha, scenes from Buddhist philosophy as well as Hindu deities.
To get to the park we took the road along the river from Vientiane. We didn't have very good directions-- just an arrow pointing along that road with “Xiay Khuang 27 km”. It turns out that at a fork we should have gone left and instead went right. This led through villages and rice paddies. The road deteriorated. “This could not be the road to Thailand.” Rowshan said, as we bumped along. I had insisted the road along the river would go to the Friendship Bridge to Thailand. When we asked directions, people gestured on. Eventually the road joined up with the main road, we went under the Friendship Bridge and finally got to the park.
The spot is interesting more for its strangeness than artistic qualities. It is next to the Mekong 27 km from Vientiane, and was originally the site of a wat built in 1958 by Bounlua, who merged Buddhist and Hindu iconography (LP). The style was naïve and the materials of poor quality but there was something whimsical about them. It was the work of an obsessed person.
Probably the strangest feature was a concrete sphere with windows and a twisted concrete tree rising from the top. It was entered through a monster mouth. The sphere had windows along the outer walls. In the main chamber-- 2 double levels lit by a single light bulb-- were more concrete statues, mostly broken. To reach the top we had to climb some narrow winding stairs. The exit to the top was a crawl space leading out a hole. We joked about entering the monster through its mouth and emerging from the other end.
Concrete sphere sculpture
Inner chamber of sphere
We took the main road back to town and went to Stupa That Luang. The photos show the stupa as stunning gold against a blue sky. But the weather has been cloudy and hazy for days so it looked dull and tarnished against a white sky. I actually found the wat next to it more interesting. It had gold relief murals on the doors and roof eves (check what that triangular part of the roof is called). The windows had scenes of famous sites in Laos. The roof struts were angels-- one with a huge beehive hanging from it.
Stupa That Luang
Beehive on wat