In this tumultuous land, the oldest monastery in Laos, Wat Sisaket has survived numerous invasions. The architecture is more Siamese style than Laotian, with a five-tiered roof and a u-shaped terrace exhibiting 6,800 statues of Buddha in wood, bronze, and stone.
We were very fortunate to meet two monks willing to speak with us about a typical day. Prayer and lessons, chores and ceremonies, meditation and study. Their religion leads to insight and knowledge. The aura of the monastery is calm peace. To the left of the initiate monk in orange, there are two canopied beds decorated in gold and silver. Higher ranking monks sleep here with darling kittens. I loved this insight to men and their pets.
Nearby is the most important religious monument in Laos, called That Luang Stupa. In the first century, an older Hindu temple was on this spot. Later Buddhist missionaries brought the breastbone of Buddha and rebuilt the stupa. In the 13th century, it became a Khmer temple that fell into ruin. resurrected once again as a Buddhist temple, the Thai invasion of 1828 destroyed it for the fourth time. The French rebuilt it twice (1900 and 1930) before it was demolished in a bombing raid and rebuilt again after World War 11. If nothing else, this site shows human tenacity at its greatest.
Bring your sunglasses as the 147′ tall temple is covered in 1,102 pounds of real gold leaf. It’s built in three levels following Buddhist teachings. The bottom is a little over 226′ square and represents the underworld. The middle level is one step closer to heaven, if believers have followed the 30 Buddhist teachings of perfections. These are represented by 30 smaller narrow stupas surrounding this level.The upper level is enlightenment and Nirvana.
Almost hidden around a corner is a modern reclining Buddha in a garden setting. The bottom of Buddha’s feet have infinity wheels and many people want their earthly remains interned in stupas flanking the statue.
I’ve been gone from this site for awhile–traveling and having many new adventures that I plan on sharing with you! Next up–Amazing Angkor Vat.