This story starts with an evening bike ride down the Mekong River. There are plenty of bike rental stores near the river where you can give them an ID card and 10,000 KIP then get around the city for a whole day. The road is dusty and bumpy and wanders into small sections of the town really unseen. It quickly becomes touristless as kids clamor to say “hello” to you in english. At sunset everyone is off work and starting to relax because the heat of the day and that big terrible over bearing sun in the sky starts to back off. It’s considered winter here so the temperature dropped to around 26 Celsius and a cool breeze accompanied a beautiful hazy sunset over the Mekong River.
When the sun disappeared and night approached, a group of us went out bowling. There’s a small place right hidden away with beers and no bowling shoes. I slipped quite a bit of times and was terrible at the game. Nonetheless it was still fun. Amanda was sporting her dope vintage Guess denim jacket she got in Thailand.
The next day we woke up… a bit late. Slowly we made our way to rent some motorbikes and head out to Buddha Park or Xieng Khuan. This park was built in the 1950’s by one artist and shaman, Bunleua Sulilat. He worked on sculptures for the park until the 1970’s where he had to flee due to the civil war. Most of the artistic and educated class had to leave the country, which is a sad loss. Luckily the park is still preserved and available to tour. It was inspirational for me and I really enjoyed it. There is a large circular structure that represents hell on one end of the park. You spiral through different levels of the underworld including torture, demons, snake women and terror. On the other end of the park is a small towering chapel that represents heaven. You can chose which you prefer. I honestly thought hell was pretty tight.