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HALF-DAY TRIP FROM VIENTIANE

Though we have visited the Buddha Park outside of Vientiane twice before we keep going back to it. It is a nice place for monks or groups of monks to visit. One of the few places you can take monks to without running into too many tourists and namely female tourists which pose a problem for the monks since they cannot be too close to females. Laos is not as strict as Thailand but places with loads of tourists will usually make monks feel very uncomfortable.

For this day trip, we had to stop before 12 to get some food for the monks, since they are not allowed to eat after 12 noon. There is a new restaurant in the Buddha Park which was only opened after our last visit. However, it caters more to tourists and less to Lao monks, so we had to find a place outside the park.  We stopped first in the Cultural Park which is located a few km west of the Buddha Park and we only visited the „cultural“ side of it. That side is made up with a few Lao-style dwellings, a museum or what looks like a furnished historic home in Lao style and a few examples of local art and culture. We were here during the rainy season, so no other tourists were in sight.

At the Buddha Park there were some western tourists around and quickly my group of monks became very uneasy with the tourists walking right up to them and not even attempting to make way for them. Lao or Thai tourists would move to the side. Chinese tourists usually do not care much unless they are serious Buddhists. European tourists, or western tourists,  usually snap photos from every side of the monks. There is also a dress code in the Park and some tourists followed the rules or being dressed „properly“ but some just took their „sarongs“ off again when walking around the park.

At one point my group of monks were all standing to the side of the park, looking shocked and in disbelieve as a female European tourist climbed up one of the statues to pose for a photo. Even though she was right next to the „DO NOT CLIMB“ sign, she made no real effort to even come down when I approched her.  That indicent immediately took the whole spirit out of the day out from the monks and they walked back to our car behind the statues in order to avoid any more contact with other tourists. Sad to see that tourism usually shows no respect for the local culture and behaviour and it is changing this beautiful country and it’s people over time. Even in the three visits I have done over the past few years, I can clearly see the negative impact of tourism.

 

 

 

 

 

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