BEAUTY IN ITS OLD AGE
Luang Prabang has numerous temples. My Lao friend Somsak told me that each temple has varying number of monks. Some temples have more than a hundred, while others have 10. I’m way past appreciating every single temple I see. I have been desensitized. I’ve seen too many temples to be enamored by every single temple that exists. It’s like our churches in the Philippines. Some deserve to be photographed, but several others don’t. A leisurely visit would suffice. One of my favorites is Wat Xieng Thong. If you look at the map, near the northern tip of the peninsula where Mekong meets Kham River (the tip of the “thumb”), there stands Luang Prabang’s most magnificent temple- Wat Xieng Thong. I reached Xieng Thong as it was starting to drizzle. Madilim ang langit at umaambon. There weren’t a lot of tourists in the vicinity. It was a sleepy area. The compound of the temple is a peaceful abode. The main temple has an ornate pinkish hue. The few monks were sitting nearby. After checking out the interiors of the temples, I headed to the west entrance and walked down the flight of stairs leading to the river.
A BOATMAN AT THE MEKONG
Wow. I was once again beside the Mekong. In Saigon, people have to pay $20 and travel for two hours to get near the Mekong. Now I am standing before it. There were more concrete steps to take before I finally reached the water. It was high and there was a raging flow going south. Just further north is where the Mekong meets the Kham River. Drizzle has turned into a steady drop of rain water. I didn’t care. I sat at the last dry flight of stair. I hunched forward and dipped my hand on the river. Murky. Haha. An Australian couple who earlier made the rounds of the Wat Xieng Thong compound joined me. Nainggit ata! I just nodded and smiled. We were surely getting wet, but it was a nice feeling, sitting there.
I was watching a little blue boat sail against the flow of the Mekong. It sailed on from the raging stream and bravely made its way towards the shore. It maneuvered and turned around, and headed towards us. “Ride, meester?” God! He sailed against the flow to offer us a ride?! Kawawa naman. I had to say no. So did the Australian couple. He silently left. That’s what I like about the Lao. You only need to say NO once - and they leave you alone. That doesn’t happen in Vietnam. Or Cambodia.
Wat Xieng Thong, the city’s oldest temple, with its ordination hall constructed 1560. A conqueror used this as his headquarters during the 1887 invasion. During which time, most of the city was destroyed.
The little blue boat that could…
· Entrance to Phou Si (Chomsy Hill) – $2.50 or 20,000 kip or PhP113.75
· Entrance to Vat Xieng Tong –$2.50 or 20,000 kip