Saturday, November 27, 2010

The story of Phra Sai, a much revered Buddha image in Nong Khai

Wat Pho Chai is the most important and revered temple in Nong Khai. The temple houses the Buddha image of Phra Sai, a sacred image, which is much revered by Lao and Isaan people alike.

The centuries old Phra Sai Buddha is cast from gold in the posture of "Subduing Mara". The Buddha image is believed to date back to the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang.

Legends say that the three daughters of Setthathirath (*), the King of Lane Xang, commissioned three personal Buddha images. Theses images were believed to reflect the faces of the three daughters of the king. All of them were given names relating to the names of the three princesses, Phra Serm, Phra Souk and Phra Sai. An illustrative, and large mural can be seen at Wat Pho Chai. The mural was painted to record this historic event.

The three revered Buddha images were originally housed in Vientiane, Laos sleepy capital on the opposite Mekong Riverside, around 20 km of Nong Khai. However, around 200 years ago, the images were brought to Thailand during the invasion of Laos through the troupes of Rama III, King of Siam.

In a stormy night, Phra Souk fell in to the Mekong River while in transit to Nong Khai. The two surviving and remaining Buddha images were placed in Nong Khai's Wat Pho Chai and Wat Ho Klong. King Rama IV ordered, that the image of Phra Serm should be taken to Bangkok. Only Phra Sai was left in Wat Pho Chai. A visit to this most revered Buddha is rewarding and interesting alike. Wat Pho Chai is on the main highway 212, from Nong Khai to Phon Phisai, at km 2 on the left hand side...

* Setthathirath (Lao: ເສດຖາທິຣາດ; 1534–1572) is one of the greatest leaders and kings in Lao history. He successfully defended the kingdom of Lan Xang against the Burmese conquerors.

Setthathirath erected many Buddhist monuments in Laos and Isaan, including the famous Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang and the Phra That Luang stupa in Vientiane.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Khiri Announces New Day Trip Activities in Luang Prabang

November 10, 2010 By Khiri News

Khiri Travel Laos, in cooperation with Tiger Trails, is launching new a range of trekking, kayaking, mountain biking and cooking options starting and finishing in Luang Prabang. The activities are suitable for active travelers with limited time who want to get away from the usual sites and enjoy a memorable Northern Laos experience. The new Khiri Travel Laos options work on fixed departure days with guaranteed starts for groups of two or more people.

The day trek near Luang Prabang shows that even within one day you can walk to places that seem further out of town. Visit Hmong and Khmu tribes as you hike amid amazing mountain landscapes.

Kayaking on the calm Nam Khan river is suitable for beginners but delivers a superlative close-to-nature experience. Paddlers stop in nearby villages, get ethnic village insights, visit the Elephant Village, the grave of a French explorer, the Tad Sae waterfall (in season) and keep their energy levels up with a very tasty barbecue lunch along the way.

The bicycle daytrip option opens up 30km of scenic road and dirt track in and around Luang Prabang. The biking, which is suitable for beginners, includes a trip to the Elephant Village, insights into ethnic village life, and plenty away-from-it-all big country vistas.

Khiri Travel Laos will also show you how to cook Laotian cuisine, which relies heavily on the freshest products. The end result is a range of flavors and textures, many of them different from what westerners are used to. The culinary experience starts with an early morning tour of Luang Prabang’s major food market where we buy our cooking ingredients for the day. At a charming riverside location you then prepare and cook an assortment of dishes under supervision. You then enjoy the outcome of your cooking in a pleasant garden setting. Lao cuisine recipes are provided for all budding chefs to take home.

Marc Albert, Country Manager of Khiri Laos, says: “There is so much to see and do in Luang Prabang that you can base yourself there for a week. You can then choose a range of soft adventure, nature and cultural experiences that will take your appreciation of the Luang Prabang area to a new level.”

For further information, visit Khiri Travel Laos.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chao Anouvong - Laos' last king

Chao Anouvong or by most Lao people called Chao Anou (1767-1829) was the last king of the former Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. Chao Anouvong was ruling from 1805 to 1828 in Vientiane. He came to power after his brother's death.

Chao Anouvong had long been an ally of the Thai monarchs against the Burmese invaders. Unfortunately his accomplishments and support of the Thai kingdom was not well recognized by them. From 1826 to 1828 Chao Anouvong rebelled against Siam in an attempt to become once again independent from Siam.

Chao Anouvong initially captured the Thai stronghold of Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) with his army. He assumed, that the local Lao people will follow and support him in his attempt to liberate the mostly of Lao people inhabited Isaan provinces of Thailand. The support however was not as expected and Chao Anouvong had to withdraw his forces. Lady Mo, the deputy governor’s wife, is known for harassing the Lao invaders while they were withdrawing.
Finally Chao Anouvong's army was defeated in a three-day fight near Vientiane. The Siamese King Rama III ordered his troops to sack and occupy Vientiane.

Chao Anouvong managed to escape and tried to return with Vietnamese help. Chao Anouvong was again defeated by the Siamese troops and also captured. The Siamese King Rama III ordered Vientiane destroyed. Only one temple, Wat Sisaket, survived. The precious Buddha statues “Phra Bang” and “Phra Keo” were taken to Bangkok. Chao Anouvong died as prisoner in Bangkok.

Vientiane these days opened a new park and monument on the Mekong River to celebrate the 450 years anniversary of being Laos’ capital and to honor Chao Anouvong. Interesting to be mentioned, that the statue of Chao Anouvong turns its back towards Laos and eyes once again over the Mekong River into Thailand, where more than 20 million former Lao, nowadays Thais, are living in Thailand’s Northeastern Isaan provinces!

It seems to me that King Chao Anouvong better would have a closer look at Laos and its people once in a while…