Wat Chomphet above the Mekong
There is a path along the other
side of the Mekong. It is a small paved street between houses and noodle shops which leads to a series of wats. There was a big tour group in front of the first wat so we decided to visit it on the way back. Wat Chomphet was up a hill. We'd seen it from the Luang Prabang side. From a distance it looked like it had 2 Christmas trees in front of it.
The wat was fairly ruined. A sign said restoration had been funded by France in 2007. The sign, with a border of white paint, was the only thing that looked like it had any work done on it. The things that looked like Christmas trees were stupas. In the front there had once been ornate wood decoration but it had mostly fallen off. Inside the ceiling was red with gold stencils. There was an ornate platform with a Buddha and an urn filled with dry dusty flowers.
Stupas by Wat Chomphet
Buddha and ornate platform
We walked down and followed a path. It got narrower the farther we got from the village. The paved road had disappeared after the first wat. The tour groups also disappeared as we walked further. The path led through a forest and over a stone bridge to Wat Long Khoun. We walked past this wat and the path got smaller and led through more peaceful forest. We came upon another wat/monastery, Tam Sackkalin. The buildings were old and falling apart but there were monks robes and a towel hanging to dry. A monk was cooking something in a kettle and washing his alms bowl. It seemed like a place away from everywhere. Perhaps monks came there to meditate.
Wat Long Khoun across the Mekong from Luang Prabang
We followed a path beyond, and up a hill until we came to a statue of a Buddha mounted on a rock outcropping. There were also some plaques with inscriptions including one translated to English, "Not to do any evil. To cultivate good, To purify oneself. This is the advice of the Buddhas". I think the monuments are called Phophasad. There were some other statues and a Buddha foot print. Beyond were several stupas. Coming upon the monuments on this peaceful forested hill was a little bit like stumbling upon a secret magical place. The forest reminded me a little of New England with the layer of dried leaves, gray stone outcroppings, and deciduous trees. The statues were decidedly SE Asian. The sky was a warm gray with clouds providing relief from the sun. The meditative hill commanded a view of the Mekong. Sounds carried from across the river were almost ghost like.
Buddha shrine in the forest
Buddhas in the forest
As we left the hill the clouds darkened and we felt stray drops of rain. A wind picked up rattling the dried leaves. The dark clouds made the wats' white walls and gold trim seem brighter. Then, as we reached the village, the bowl of the sky cracked and rain gushed down. Children who were coming home from school began to run for home. We rushed to a noodle shop where we sat under the eves with hot bowls of pho watching the rain rush down, overflowing from the rain barrel and splashing into the sheltered area. Kids passed by with huge umbrellas. The girls had their school skirts hiked up revealing shorts.
Downpour in the village
Girl in the rain
The air became scented with water and leaves. Eventually the rain let up enough for us to get to the boat dock but it started up again over on the other side.
Boats on the Mekong