Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), Vientiane, Laos

January 28, 2009:

Since we’d gotten a couple things checked off our to-see list the evening before we were able to sleep in on our one full day in Vientiane.  We headed off to Talat Sao bus station around 11am to find a bus to Buddha Park.  Our guide book said you could catch a bus there, but not which route to take.  When we got to the bus stop it was a bit overwhelming to see all the buses and signs with only the top line “bus to town” in English and the rest in Lao.  We bought a water bottle and asked the salesperson if he knew which bus we should take, but he didn’t know.  We wandered around searching for a sign we could read, with a tuk tuk driver following us and lowering his price as we kept refusing.  It would have been simpler to take a tuk tuk for $6 round trip, but we wanted to take the more adventurous and cheaper public transportation.  Fortunately, we found another foreign tourist couple whose guide book said that bus route 14 goes to Buddha park.  We thanked them asked the driver if he went to Xieng Khuan and then got on and waited for the bus to fill up.  The ride to the park takes about an hour, and there’s no air conditioning, just windows to open.  We weren’t sure where exactly we were going, since the park wasn’t on our maps and we didn’t know quite what it would look like.  After about 50 minutes the bus entered a gate with a sign for “Friendship Bridge,” and I thought, “oh, no, what if we end up in Thailand?”  But there was no need to worry, the bus stopped briefly to let passengers off who were getting on another bus to cross the Mekong River to Thailand.  We kept going for about another 10 minutes and we saw the park and got off as another passenger did.

Bus to Buddha Park- route 14
Bus to Buddha Park- route 14

The statues in Buddha Park were a private collection built by a monk in the fifties in an artistic effort to unify Buddhism and Hinduism.  I’d pictured a green grassy park, and maybe during the rainy season it is, but this time of year it was dry and hot!  After looking through half the park we had to take a break at the restaurant next to it for a coke and a coconut drink.  Then we wandered through the rest of the park and just as we were leaving George noticed a bus waiting on the street, so we ran the rest of the way and caught the bus back to the city.  We lucked out with that one!  We were ready to hire a tuk tuk for the return ride if it came down to it, but we managed to take the bus both directions.

Huge reclining Buddha statue
Huge reclining Buddha statue

I’m in this photo so you can get an idea of how enormous this statue is.

Three headed elephant statue at Buddha Park
Three headed elephant statue at Buddha Park
Monkey statue at Buddha Park
Monkey statue at Buddha Park
Demo devouring a human?
Demo devouring a human?
George getting eaten by the demon
George getting eaten by a demon

Here’s a photo of the whole statue:

Round statue with staircase and tree on top
Round statue with staircase inside and tree on top

I’m the little person at the foot of the tree.

View from the top of the round statue with the tree on top
View from the top of the round statue with the tree on top

2 thoughts on “Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), Vientiane, Laos”

  1. First of all, let me just say how much I admire you guys for going on this trip despite the language barriers…. I think it makes me a little more hopeful that I might one day be able to travel so much. Because even though I want to visit every country (because I want to collect their coins) I think I have a new dream of seeing lots of places in these countries now too!

    Wow, Buddha Park is awesome!

    1. I hope we’ve inspired you to do more traveling! Language barriers usually aren’t nearly as bad as people expect. Almost everywhere we visited people in the tourist industry spoke English. Vietnam and China were the only places that it was difficult, and luckily George is really good at learning from little phrase books and pronouncing new languages correctly. I’m much more timid, but I can speak a little passat Thai and say names of foods in other languages :).

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