Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vientiane's finest

A typical seated Buddha at Wat Sisaket in Vientiane
The 16th-19th century Buddhas of Wat Sisaket in Vientiane number over 7,000, the majority are set wthin tiny wall niches whilst 300 larger statues, made of wood, stone, silver and bronze, fill up the cloisters surrounding the main ordination hall (sim). Wat Sisaket is the capital's oldest pagoda, dating from the early 19th century, and inside the sim, where photos are not allowed, are more niches, more Buddhas and a series of fading wall murals. Across the street is the museum of Haw Pha Keo, that used to house the Emerald Buddha before it was stolen by the Siamese and relocated to Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew. We also stopped by the Patuxai, the Lao-Arc de Triomphe, though built as late as the 1960s and apart from Pha That Luang and the Buddha Park, that's all we had time to see in Vientiane before we were on our way again during our 2-week tour of Laos.
A view of the cloisters and some of the 2,300 Buddhas that surround the main sim of Wat Sisaket
A Buddha that has seen better days at Wat Sisaket, with the niche Buddhas behind
The main sim of Wat Sisaket with murals and Buddhas inside
This is one of the wooden pediments on view at Wat Sisaket
The museum of Haw Pha Kaeo, rebuilt by the French in the early 1940s
An inscribed Lao stele in front of Haw Pha Keo
The Patuxai monument, Laos' very own 'Arch of Triumph'


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