Robin's Adventures

Southeast Asia
Adventures in the Far East

Wat Xieng Thong

Wat Xieng Thong, or the Temple of the Golden City, is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Laos. More than 20 structures, such as a sim, shrines, smaller chapels, stupas, and a monastery, originally built during 1559 and 1560, were on the temple grounds.

There were large carved gold leafed doors and detailed illustrations on the walls showing the everyday life of the people of Laos.

A large statue of Buddha sits on a platform surrounded by many smaller statues and offerings, such as a stupa made from a large green banana leaf surrounded by orange marigolds.

Funeral Chapel at Wat Xieng Thong

The funeral chapel at Wat Xieng Thong was beautifully ornate. Inside we saw a large number of Buddha statues and a funeral chariot.

Large naga, which are snake or serpent like creatures, are at the front of the royal funeral chariot. Behind them is the urn that contains the royal remains.

There were many other ornate pavillions to house various Buddha statues.

Mosaic Murals at Wat Xieng Thong

The Chapel of the Reclining Buddha is decorated with glass mosaic tiles that depict a variety of scenes. The entire back wall of the building is a huge tree of life. At the top of the wall is a standing Buddha. At the bottom, there is a man and various animals, such as a tiger and two peacocks.

As the sun changed position in the sky, the light caught in and reflected from the mosaic tiles and it created an animation like affect that was breathtaking

Bamboo Bridge

Luang Prabang is located at the junction of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan River. We came upon an interesting bamboo bridge that crosses over the Nam Khan River.

The bridge is only there for six months out of the year. During the rainy season, it is taken down because the strong currents and high waters would wash it away. The bridge is then rebuilt at the end of the rainy season. The family that maintains the bridge charges a small fee for crossing and this provides enough income to sustain the family throughout the year.

Baci Ceremony

We had an opportunity to participate in a Baci Ceremony. The ceremony, which is designed to to call back a person's wandering spirits, or kwan, to watch over them, also involves a ritual of tying string around your wrist for good luck.

Everyone gathers around a table with an elaborate centerpiece. There is a cone of banana leaves surrounded by orange marigolds in the center and bamboo sticks covered with knotted silk or cotton string encircle the cone. There are also offerings of food on the table.

After the chanting, each person ties a string around the right wrist of the person(s) being blessed and chants a good luck wish for them. The strings should be worn at least three days or until they fall off.

Night Market Adventure

As night approached, we wandered through a large open air market. All sorts of prepared foods were available and this is perhaps the Laos equivalent of \"fast food.\" In addition, many handicraft items were also neatly on display.

Traditional Laos Meal

We worked up quite an appetite looking at all of the foods in the night market, so we headed off to a local restaurant to have some dinner. Steve loves to try local foods everywhere we go and he enjoyed his traditional Laotian meal. Robin has a more selective palate and was glad that she was prepared for the occasion.

Growing Rice

We spent half a day at a working farm learning about how rice was grown, harvested, and cooked. Through the magic of video editing, you can get a taste of this experience in just over three minutes. For us, it was a very interesting and enjoyable way to spend a morning.

Making Silk

The process of making silk was explained on our visit to a craft center. The moths lay the eggs which then grow into silkworms. When they are fully grown, the worms spin a cocoon. The cocoons are boiled to loosen the threads which are spun into yarn. Then natural plant and mineral materials are used to dye the yarn.

Making Colorful Silk

Natural plant or mineral products are boiled and used to color the yarn. Once the yarn has dried, it is woven on a loom into cloth. The finished product is beautiful.