After the visit to Buddha Park, we continued our journey on Mr Som’s tuktuk and headed towards That Luang. Mr Som stopped at what look seemed like a big parking area and we were like ‘huh ? why are we stopping at the middle of nowhere ’ until we saw golden pinnacles beyond that tarred compound .
Extracts from the www – That Luang is A symbol of Laos’s nationhood and the country’s most sacred Buddhist monument, That Luang was built in the 16th century under the rule of King Setthathirat. After being destroyed by the Thai invasion in the 19th century, the monument was later restored to its original design, with inclusion of many references to Lao culture and identity, hence its status as a symbol of the nation.
Making our way towards the golden structure, we came to a statue of King Setthathirat.
In picture below, take note of the little square bamboo cages by the feet of the peddlers. There were 2 little birdies confined in each cage- waiting to be released ( for a few thousand kips).
It was almost mid day ( 11:45 to be exact) and we made it just in time as That Luang close for an hour at 12 and the doors will re-open after that. But the good thing is, once you get in, they will not chase you out during the lunch break. We paid for the entrance fee (5,000kip) and found ourselves in a courtyard facing the glittering That Luang .
Wikipedia says that from ground to pinnacle, That Luang is 147.6 feet high. I found an interesting article from CPA Media about the history of That Luang, please click here
There is a covered area along the grounds of this magnificient square gold stupa, which displayed some rather interesting looking stone structures including a sculpture of Jayavarman VII ( far left)
Every nook and corner seemed to harbour some unexpected finds
That Luang Neua -one of four temples built by King Setthathirat that surround Pha That Luang.
We saw some other temples beside That Luang and decide to explore these as well but before that we saw a stall by the road side that was selling some grilled stuff wrapped in banana leaves ( it was the smell that drawn us). With my limited Thai, found out from seller auntie that the oblong thingy was banana wrapped in sticky rice but could not understand what was in the square thingy, being curious ( and greedy) we brought one of each. You can see the ‘undressed’ purchased , at the bottom of the pix. The grilled banana thingy cost 2,000kip ( ~0.80RM), taste ok, fragrant of the grilled banana leaves infused into the sticky rice and on top of that the sweetness of the banana –yumm.. The square thingy costs 3,000 kip ( equivalent to a 0.5L bottle of water).
Close up of the square thingy…
It has a bit of a grainy creamy texture..turn out to be some bee larva or larva of some insect thingy ..
After a brief visit to the temple ( name we couldn’t find on the map) , we got on to our chariot and headed to Patuxai – that looked very much like Arc de Triomphe , Patuxai was built in the 1960s as a symbol of respect for those that fought for independence from the French.
This seemed to be the place for the young (and some not so young) to lepak on a weekend – crowds of people hanging around the place, load music blaring, photographers standing around offering to take pictures. One could climb up to the top and view the city, but the sun was a bit too much for us, so we decided to take a break under the arch instead and lepak with the crowd instead.
There was only 1 food stall operating under the shade of Patuxai, we shared a table with some trendy Loatian in funky clothes who were perpetually talking or texting on their mobiles.
This was what we had for lunch :
Fried noodles ( 5,000kip /RM2 per plate )- this was like our economy noodles, noodles fried with probably fish sauce and soy sauce, topped with raw bean sprouts and some chopped roasted peanut – ok lah, but a bit sweet. The noodles came with salad – cabbage and unidentified greens. We also ordered som-tam @ 5,000 kip ( papaya salad – equivalent to the Thai version) – the plate you see on the right. This was a bit too spicy for me but goes rather well with the noodles, this version wasn’t as sour as the Thai version, but had a salt-ish tinge instead. The satay thingy that you see is umm..a mixture of grilled chicken heart and gizzard. (2,000 kip per skewer)! Whatever sauce that was use to marinate these was -works ! plus the chewiness and the texture of these organs – excellent !!
Close up of these delicious heart and gizzard on skewers
Up next : Wat Si Saket and Haw Phra Keow