It’s the sort of environment that could hold my attention for hours. In a heavily carved and gilded structure that’s tucked away on the grounds of the Wat Xieng Thong temple complex in Luang Prabang, Laos, are stored a fleet of Buddha statues, crackling wooden devotional panels, nagas, and the Lao king’s cremation chariot. Adorned with cobwebs and dressed in dust, they seem to be waiting in the wings for a regal parade.
I entered this spiritual hibernation spot during the golden hour, following a stroll along the Mekong River. And I wondered — as I often do with antiques — how many centuries old are the figures? How many monks had carefully placed them there? And, if the statues could speak, what stories would they tell?
Wat Xieng Thong is one of Laos’ most important temples and is believed to have been built in 1560. Wat means ‘temple,’ and xieng thong means ‘golden city.’ In the past, Laotian kings were crowned at this Temple of the Golden City.
In what sorts of environments can you most easily immerse yourself for hours? If you’ve been to Luang Prabang and seen the city’s many splendid temples, which was your favorite?
Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene.
A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia.
Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.
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8 thoughts on “Wat Xieng Thong: Waiting in the Wings During the Golden Hour”
This is gorgeous! What beautiful photographs.
From such a gifted photographer, that’s really flattering. Thank you, Rachael! I’m off to explore more of your portfolio now for some morning inspiration. :)
Fantastic group of photographs, my fav has got to be the tenth, the way the sun in lighting up the cabinet, great work
Many thanks, Rigmover. I’m so happy you enjoyed the pictures from my time snooping and snapping at Wat Xieng Thong. :)
I also liked the way the sunbeams bathed the cabinet so well. Perhaps a bit too much sunlight, but something I’d love to have more of here in Germany now! (We left Asia about 3 weeks ago and I’m already on withdrawal from the tropics.)
Happy weekend & thanks for stopping by!
Beautiful! You are so talented, Tricia, turning something ‘ordinary’ like the discarded shoes at the entrance of the temple into art! I love those ones. Of course the antique statues are anything but ordinary, but you capture them intimately and beautifully too.
Sarah, so humbled by your kind comments! I love the signs in foreign scripts, and wanted to share that aspect of Asian culture (leaving shoes at the door) with others who haven’t been there… And the storage spot at the Luang Prabang Wat was so fun to explore – I felt like a child in grandmother’s attic :)
Where in the world are you two now? I tried to comment on your adventures the other day, and it wasn’t possible to do so. I shall definitely try again! Nice to hear from you & happy travels!
PS – You wondered where we are… I’m flitting about from country to country via my blog, I know! We’re now in Germany, but I have a whole grab bag of stories and pictures to share from Asia (and now Europe too). If only there was more time in the day!
Many thanks, Wyletter! Luang Prabang is a magical city.