Monday Oct.22 – Day 2 – Vientiane – After breakfast we are off on a city tour. First stop is the oldest Buddhist monastery temple in the country. It is called Wat Sl Saket. That’s not a typo, by the way. That is the name. After that, we saw the former royal temple built to house the Emerald Buddha. It is called Haw Pha Kaeo. Today it is the national museum of religious art.
We then went to the COPE Center. This organization works with people still being injured by land mines and unexploded bombs from the Vietnam War. Remember, we bombed the Ho Chi Min Trail constantly for some time and there are still many thousands of unexploded bombs laying around just under the surface of the land. Many people are injured every year farming or by trying to recycle the metal from bombs and mines that are thought to be safe to handle. They are not!! If you want to help the center train men and women to find and defuse these terrible weapons, send them some money. It will be for a good cause.
After the tour and seeing a film, we left to go see Pha That Luang. It is the most important symbol of Buddhist religion and Laos sovereignty.
Standing tall and proud on the main venue is Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph also know as the Patuxay monument. We saw this the day before on our walk through town. It is a splendid monument and you can walk up to the top for a grand view as we did. There is a book store inside and a little store for purchasing sodas or postcards. at the bottom. The ceiling is highly decorated with mosaics and it is overall, an impressive piece of architecture.
This is a land of farming primarily. The rice crops are harvested twice a year in some cases and the stalks are left in the fields and are burned to be used as fertilizer for the next crop. The upper stalk with the rice kernels are taken to be processed by hand on the farm or sent out to be machine thrashed. I mention this to let you know that the air is full of smoke all over the country. Likewise in Vietnam and Cambodia. If you think smog from vehicles is a problem, look at the air here. I mention this to remind you that different cultures have different priorities and problems. I don’t think this practice will end any time soon, so be realistic and just enjoy your trip. The air quality creates beautiful sunsets by the way, so there is that.
For the pictures of this trip and others, you can go to my friends Facebook page at Ray-Andrea Matthews. It’s public and has photos of all of my adventures from the last thirty years. They have been nice enough to help with them.
Remember to check out my novels on Amazon. The Adventures of the Smith Family and Kazu, Son of Oshida Kamasaki are just a few, available there. I am the author, R. C. Hand