The Buddha Park

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Xieng Khuan, or Buddha Park, is an hour bus ride from the city center.  Tuk-tuks will take you out there for $4 a person, but the bus was $.40.  I always prefer mass transit, not just because it's cheaper, but also because it's always interesting to watch the locals whom you are sharing the bus with.  This was ride was no exception.  The vehicle was a mini-bus and we were packed into the back seat with 4 other people.  One of them was a chatty octogenarian.  She began talking to me - in Lao - and very quickly as if I was obviously fluent.  I raised my eyebrows and shrugged my shoulders to express my confusion.  She repeated herself, quickly, and in Lao once again.  All I caught was "Soviet."  The women around us were laughing a great deal, and then one of them said to her (we pieced this together with context clues) that we were not Soviets.  She then told the old woman how to say, "Where you come from" in English.  We told her we were Americans and she began chatting away again.  She was all smiles.  We couldn't understand a word, but we smiled and nodded.  For the next 20 minutes she went on chatting, often to no one in particular, and everyone on the back of the bus giggled and whispered to one another.  Apparently she was your basic crazy old lady, but she seemed very sweet.  She greeted everyone who stepped onto the bus and bid farewell to departing passengers.  I was disappointed when she exited the bus outside of town to make her way down a long dirt road to her home.  It was a quiet ride for the remaining few kilometers to our destination.
The Buddha Park was built in 1958 by a priest-shaman who fused Buddhist and Hindu traditions.  The sculptures reflect this combination, with statues of Buddha, Vishnu, Shiva, and other figures scattered across the grounds.  The park isn't an overly religious spot.  It exists mostly for picnickers and tourists and serves more as an outdoor art museum than a shrine.  It is definitely a photogenic locale and we went a little picture crazy.  I've posted some of the better shots.
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