Rural Vientiane hides a surprising temple

The Lao capital of Vientiane offers a wealth of fascinating attractions, some of which are quite small and relatively unknown but nevertheless amaze and enthrall the visitor.
This small country has a huge number of temples, with at least one in every village, and it is these colourful and artistically designed structures that particularly appeal to visitors.

Striking Buddha statues in the temple grounds.                       --Photos Patithin

I’ve been living in Vientiane for 20 years but I haven’t even seen 10 percent of the temples here.
Temples have great significance in Lao life as they are both religious and community centres.
Last week I visited Vat Pa Laylai, which is without doubt one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen. I sought it out after having heard its name for some time. And it’s a place I would highly recommend to people seeking solace and time for quiet reflection in a peaceful environment.
The temple is located in Ban Xaifong village in Hadxaifong district, about 20km from downtown Vientiane. It quite often hosts Buddhist rituals and festivals, such as those that will take place at the start of Lent next week.
There are lots of trees round about which provide shade and keep the area cool and fresh. The temple complex is quite extensive and more structures are currently being built.
Upon entering the temple, one’s eyes are immediately drawn to some dramatic Buddha statues that have been tastefully set in an ornamental pond along with an umbrella-like naga reproduction. This scene is even more colourful at night when it is illuminated.
Take your time and walk slowly through the temple grounds. Next you will see a huge drum tower. This is a newly built yellow and green structure which has seven levels linked by stairs. Each level contains a special item. On the first level is an elongated wooden drum. A different kind of drum can be viewed on the fourth level, while the fifth level houses a large bell. The top three levels each contain large Buddha images.
This structure is unlike any I have seen at other temples in Laos and is certainly the tallest. I loved spending time here as from this high vantage point I had a panoramic view of the woods round about and villagers’ vegetable plots. I found this very relaxing and the sight warmed my heart.
Visitors like to climb up to the top level to pay respect to the Buddha images and make a wish.
I and my friends also did this and tried to meditate for a short while as it was so quiet and a place made for shedding one’s daily cares and stresses.
I feel sure that this temple will become more well known and even more extensive as two other buildings are under construction and seem to be designed to appeal to visitors.
Some locals said the temple is of special interest to wealthy people in Laos, who like to come here to wish for good luck in their lives.
Different people have different perceptions of the temple but for me it was the green environment that was the main attraction. I felt very comfortable here and thought it was an appropriate place to learn about the teachings of Buddha.
I also liked the fact that this temple was concerned about the environment and natural beauty, which somehow made the Buddhist scriptures more meaningful.

By Patithin Phetmeuangphuan
(Latest Update July 11, 2019)

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