A tuktuk sits on a hill overlooking grass-covered That Foun (also called That Chomsi). The brick stupa (Buddhist shrine) was built in 1576 in an ancient capital city, Xieng Khuang, in present-day Muang Khoun (northeastern Laos).
In the 19th century, Chinese bandits tunnelled into the stupa’s interior, creating the entryway that is visible today. They spirited away the priceless Buddhist relics from within.
Where in the World?
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.
Wat Phia Wat and its focal point — a war-scarred Buddha statue — are located in Muang Khoun, only 30 kilometers from Phonsavan, Laos. Muang Khoun was previously the region’s capital city, but all that remains of the capital today are the fragments of Wat Phia Wat, as well as a few stupas.
Given rugged dirt roads we’d encountered just days earlier on a tour of the Plain of Jars, we were not eager to hop back into a tuktuk and endure more bumpiness to get to Wat Phia Wat. (During that earlier drive, we’d felt like kernels of corn being tossed in a popcorn popper!) Nevertheless, to better understand the American Secret War in Laos, Shawn and I felt it was important to see Wat Phia Wat, so we pressed on.
Continue reading “The Enduring Buddha at War-Ravaged Wat Phia Wat, Laos”