Vientiane and the shrine with no name

The bus ride from Luang Prabang was tough.

What they call VIP buses really have no VIP benefits: same leg space as in the other buses, same level of filthiness. Oh well, I wasn’t too bothered at the beginning.

The scenery out of the window is to cry for: gentle bumped hills covered in bright green grass, plants, trees. At times we crossed villages with barefoot kids, at times villages with families around an improvised bonfire. Roosters under wicker cages surrounded by chickens. Occasional cows and lost-looking goats.

Jo’s place is quite out of town, and it took me ages to reach. Ten hours on a VIP bus, forty minutes on a bus with the luggage on the roof (as if we were all going on holiday together as a big family) and another forty minutes of tuk-tuk.

Vientiane does not have the coziness of Luang Prabang or its fabulous night market, but it has the French charm too, and the good bistro as well.

A game changer here is to rent a scooter, which I did.

Riding it along the Mekong, sticking to the river side at any cost, leaning out to see if there were fishermen along the hidden shores.

Rice fields, corn fields, farmers with cone-shaped hats, palm trees, kids out of school, bright pagodas on every horizon.

There is a temple with no name (or rather no english sign for it) that lies along the river some twenty five kms out of town. Has steps going to the water and levels and layers hosting shrines and Buddha of all colours or shapes.

You can’t take it all in the moment you enter, you know that you have to venture further and further because you see that those sparkles are the ones given by the sun to the water and you want to make sure it is the Mekong what you are seeing.

But then the shrine has more steps and more dragons and then Buddhas sticking out of any cracks in the wall.

There is something about it, maybe the magic of the discovery, that reminded me of the Japanese shrines such as Kamakura, where you have to keep walking and keep looking for things because you will find them.

I could have seen myself sitting down on a tree and reading my book or napping in peace.

But I had my quiche Lorraine from the French cafe in town, instead.

The temple with no name and the scooter wanderings of today made Vientiane worth it.




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