This is probably the furthest you would want to cycle out of town and it is up a slight incline which you would notice on a bicyle. Considerably further out than the 'Arc de Triomphe' but you can see the top of the Golden Stupa from far away.
Now for a start you need a map if you are going to see some of the sights of this smallest city. If you have not purchased a map before you come (and we recommend you do), get to the tourist information office in Lane Xang Avenue on the South Eastern side. It is not easy to see but look for the classic 'western' "i" sign on the extended awning. It is part of a parade on Hatsady Road. They speak English, are helpful and will give you free advice and maps. Actually you can see the 'Arc de Triomphe -(Patuxay) from here.
Returning to our report upon The Great Sacred Stupa, we took a tuk tuk rather than a bicycle and the good thing is because of the narrow width of the vehicle, we were driven within a 100 metres of the entrance. It is a 5000 kip entrance fee per person for 'foreigners' but we think well worth it. The building are rather worn in their gilt cover and patchy but once inside you walk around a quadrangle with the stupa in the centre.
There is something very soothing about walking on a patch of grass. Even better walk inside the galleries around the 4 edges. They are empty of rows of Buddha statues and this allows you to walk and pray in peace unobstructed in the shade. Within these 'prayer galleries' -(cloisters) - you see a pattern of small holes in the external walls which allows you to look out to the world beyond if you want to.
We much preferred walking on the grass and on all 4 sides there are one shrine per side where people pray and leave their offering to their God. Behind each shrine there was a locked gate and further steep steps leading further up the stupa but as we reported no-one was allowed to do this because the gates are locked most of the time.
Do not expect beautiful painting and buildings in pristine condition but expect to experience tranquillity here and your thoughts turning heavenward and the purpose of time whilst journeying through life.
Also expect the sense of mild achievement at your journey here 'off the beaten track'. Now you have seen something other people do not often see and wonder at why it was that you had to travel this far to learn something you so much wanted to 'find' at home! We are talking about 'a connection' with the divine being.
We really enjoyed watching fervent Buddhists going about their devotions.
We left admiring the gilt set against a blue sky.
We think you would be here 30 minutes only as it is small. This place is not wheelchair accessible and I think little children running around would not be welcome but if they are old enough to stay with the Mums ask at the door whether you can take your buggies in as this place is manageable for you.
You have your map now and note with interest some street scenes on you way back to town. It is mostly downhill but too far to walk!
We did not see toilets but they might be there and there are a few street meat vendors (kebabs) back where the tuk tuks wait!
Chris and Anna
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