Another trip out today for the Hughes’ World Tours – this time to “Buddha Park’ just a shortish way out from Vientiane’s main bus station somewhere in the centre of the city. After getting ourselves to the bus station, which I must point out was an even more haphazard place than the usual state of ramshackle that we were becoming used to with respect to Asian public transport. Even here though it still worked, we simply explained where we wanted to go, miming ‘Buddha Park’ where necessary and soon enough we were on the bus and off as it were! The half hour or so run out to the park was nice enough but unlike my wife’s prediction for the weather for today being rain, it was an absolute scorcher!
The Laos Buddha Park is by the river, so an excellent location and even more so on such a beautiful day. Our first view of the place and we thought it looked extremely familiar and we found out this was with good reason. The feel of the place and the sculpture work was not exactly the same as but very similar to that at the Sculpture Park in Nong Khai – almost directly across the water – and upon looking at one of the information boards about the place it turned out that the artist was one and the same – Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his followers. Originally from Nong Khai he went across the water and first created the Buddha Park but when the political climate in the country worsened he fled back to Nong Khai and made the Sculpture Park, though these details are differing depending on where you read them!
The sculptures of both Buddhist and Hindu images were, once again, massive and one of the weirdest was the Pumpkin and The Tree sculpture, one that you can actually go inside and once in, it has three floors representing heaven, earth and hell. You can even venture out onto the top of it too, no safety rails here folks! There is also a Crocodile with its mouth open sculpture, so time for a comedy photo of my head in the beast’s mouth … lol. Also a giant locust or cricket – not really too sure which it was supposed to be. Soon after seeing this, a young Asian lady came up to us to ask if we had come across her mobile phone, which we had not but as we went further round the place we did try to keep an eye out for her. To be fair the park could have done with a bit more explanation about the meaning behind the sculptures because some are a bit obscure to us as we don’t have a great deal of knowledge about Hinduism or Buddhism but it is still a great place to have a look around especially on such a nice day as we had today. Before our journey back we even treat ourselves to an ice cream – very decadent and on such a hot day, very necessary too, just what the doctor ordered.
Anyhow we got back to Vientiane’s manic bus station and then eventually returned to our hotel but before settling down for an afternoon siesta we had bought ourselves a couple of second-hand books – what a day of rash purchases.
We surfaced back out for the night and our choice of cuisine had us eating some more Indian food – which never seems to let us down – and this was the case at the little eatery we had found. It was a bit of a local looking eatery but even though it was a bit rough and ready it still new how to charge so afterwards we consoled ourselves by having a few beers with a couple of ‘Farang’ – white older ‘gentlemen’ at a bar described by the Lonely Planet as being ‘seedy’ but we felt it bordered on being atmospheric too, so we stuck it out and got chatting with one of the men, an old guy from Yorkshire who got telling us his story. How he had come over to Laos from Australia and met a Laotian girl. They had ‘settled down’ and now owned a bar together and whilst he was in his seventies the lady was much younger at 34! From his side of the story they seemed to have something going but this did not stop him coming to this bar on the lookout for something else ‘on the side’ and neither me nor Liz were sure that this was simply him boasting a bit or not! Liz decided to ask the Yorkie and his friend (an Aussie) about older guys and their habit of ‘faranging’ – older men going for younger girls. I decided her approach though was a wee bit tactless as the guys seemed to prickle a bit at this direct form of quizzing so I nudged her under the table to warn her that she was upsetting our companions. However, she is not the best person to try this subtle kind of approach with so she started kicking off a bit, so it was time to get her home methinks!