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Xieng Khuan Buddha Park

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The massive reclining Buddha of Xieng Khuan Buddha Park that has become an icon for Vientiane.

Xieng Khuan, or Buddha Park, is a rather grotesque park located about 25km southeast of Vientiane, Laos. In Xieng Khuan, which is open daily 8am-6pm, you will find a big collection of cement and concrete sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu images, hence the reason its name is also translated as Buddha Park.

Xieng Khuan was founded by Bunleua Sunlitat, a priest-shaman to developed a following in Laos and northeastern Thailand by mixing Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Within Buddha park are images of Shiva and Vishnu alongside the Buddha. The place has an air of surrealism that would be more at home in a Salvador Dali museum than here in Vientiane.

Dominating Buddha Park is a gigantic reclining Buddha which has become something of an icon for Vientiane. At least, it has appeared in many travel guidebooks, one would be mistaken to think that this huge Buddha was built a hundred years ago, and not in 1958. There are many strange designs and structures in Buddha Park. One is an oversized pumpkin-type structure of concrete, within which are three levels represnting hell, earth and heaven. A spiral staircase allows us to climb right to the top of the pumpkin, from where we get good views of the park (not like there's anything interesting to see).

On the whole, I find the craftsmanship at Buddha Park crude, amateurish, and almost childish. But certainly there is no lacking in enthusiasm for putting these sculptures together. The result is a weird Disneyland like no other.

An assembly of stone monks, or are these Buddha images, I am not sure.

Sculpture of an elephant, among other sculptures in Buddha Park.

Cement serpents surrounding some sculptures. In the background is the Mekong River.

A vendor selling snacks at Xieng Khuan.

Members of AsiaExplorers at the top of a pumpkin-like sculpture.

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