March in Laos: Luang Prabang Temples

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The main temples of Luang Prabang understandably line the main street. The crown jewel among the many wats here has to be Wat Xiang Thong. Its roofs reach slightly higher than the other wats and its decorations are slightly more elaborate. In the setting sun, this small temple complex was quite stunning.

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The sumptuous gold leaf decorations were an elegant motif repeated all over the buildings here…

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… even down to the tiniest side halls.

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Gold leaf on red was the theme of the day. I wonder how much gold was plastered on the walls.

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In the cast of the evening sun, it was a sight to behold.

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However, for the most important temple of a country, Wat Xiang Thong was nonetheless humble in comparison. Some parts looked badly in need of restoration.

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Other shrines had rather unique decorations, such as this quirky rendition of the tree of life which I rather enjoyed.

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The rest of the temple complex had mainly the de rigueur gold carvings as decorations.

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Some looked appropriately ancient…

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… and others were simply stunning in the evening sun.

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One of the most interesting of the shrines was this one with the simple paintings on a pink background. I like the naivety of the style, as if it had been painted by students from the local primary school.

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Last of all, we ducked into the main temple hall to watch worshippers at prayer, all serenely decked out in traditional costume.

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Here’s a little aside about Lao people: One thing I noticed about Luang Prabang was how friendly the locals were, in particular the monks. Outside one of the wats I was just minding my own business when a young monk struck up a conversation with me. He was very eager to practise his English and we had a little chat about our countries. I’m not sure about their taboos regardingĀ  contacts between monks and women but they sure aren’t shy about conversations with foreign women!

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March in Laos: Vientiane’s Temple Architecture

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People don’t really go to Laos for its temples. While it’s hardly Ayuthaya or Angkor Wat, Vientiane hasĀ  some lovely architecture. Siamesecat and I spent a leisurely hour exploring How Pha Kaew which now functions as a museum of art and antiquities rather than a temple.

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The style was a lot less formal and lacked the grandeur of other places in the region. But this gave the whole complex a rather relaxed feel, somehow as if they didn’t take themselves that seriously.

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I liked this wooden structure beautifully gilded with gold leaf. The inside housed many treasures belonging to the city. It was a pity that the interior was poorly lit and the exhibits were placed rather haphazardly.

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Laotian architecture, influenced by neighbouring Thailand, pays attention to small details. I enjoyed this naga carving…

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… and absolutely adored the carvings on the eaves. I especially loved how this dragonfly was taking a breather on the dragon! Look carefully now.

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Inside, the door panels had ornate carvings, again coated with gold leaf.

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As in most Buddhist structures, there were Buddha statues all over the place. This tortoise stuck out amidst the many statues. I guess the poor guy doesn’t get much respect seeing as they had to put a “No Sitting” sign on him!

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