Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 14: Wat Sisaket, Vientiane

Solo Overland Backpacking Trip to Thailand & Laos – Part 14: Wat Sisaket, Vientiane

Previously: Part 13 – A Peek on Vientiane

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Still Day 5: Friday, 30 August 2013

Whilst walking in the city, I saw a big signboard stating ‘Sisaket Museum’. I opened my Lonely Planet book and read that Sisaket Museum is an old Buddist wat in Vientiane. As such, my first stop for my unplanned walking tour in Vientiane was Wat Sisaket. I entered the main gate and it looked empty, apart from a few travellers from Italy (Yes, I interviewed them) who also thought that the wat was quite empty and quiet.

Masa tengah jalan-jalan tanpa arah tuju, aku ternampak signboard ‘Sisaket Museum’. Aku bukak buku Lonely Planet aku. Katanya, Muzium ni ialah satu wat Buddha yang tua kat Vientiane. Aku pun terus singgah. Gilerlah. Masuk-masuk, tengok sunyi je. Tak ramai orang pun. Selain aku, adalah 2-3 kerat pelawat dari Italy.

Sign of friendship.
Saw this and I said to myself: “I want to go in!”

There are two gates inside this wat, one is the main gate and another one is the gate to enter the wat’s compound. Since that gate was still closed, I wandered around the garden area. At the garden area, there are a lot of Buddha statues with one reclining Buddha statue. There is also a drum tower with a big drum on top of the tower apart from what looked like a stupa which was reclaimed by the wild before being found again by the French colonies.

Ada 2 pagar nak masuk dalam Wat Sisaket ni. Satu pagar utama yang aku masuk tadi, satu lagi pagar nak masuk kawasan wat. Sebab pagar nak masuk wat masih bertutup, aku jalan-jalan kat kawasan luar dulu. Ada taman kat sini. Ada patung Budhha yang kecil-kecil, Buddha baring, menara dram. Siap ada satu binaan macam stupa kecil yang dulu hilang sebab dimamah masa, tapi lepas tu penjajah Perancis jumpa, terus jaga elok-elok balik.

The gate to the wat was closed. So, I wandered at the garden’s area.
The sights of the garden.
This looks like a traditional Malay houses. Minus the dragon ornaments.

As I walked further, I saw several houses built by woods which looked almost exactly like kampong houses in Malaysia. I enquired one of the men there who told me that the wooden house is actually a monastery where most of the monks are living. It looked so peaceful with such houses in a traditional setting and I believed that the monks must have gotten their inner peace living here.

Aku jalan lagi dan nampak ada rumah yang diperbuat dari kayu. Nampak macam kat Malaysia pulak! Aku tanya seorang lelaki ni, dia kata tu tempat tinggal sami. Mesti tenang je duduk sini. Dahlah memang bandar ni senyap, duduk pulak dalam kawasan senyap macam ni. Kalau tak tenang tak tahulah kan. Hehe.

The man prayer hall. Wood carvings are aplenty in the wat.

When the gate to the wat was opened, I entered into the main compound of the wat together with a few other travellers. I looked around and realized that the design is almost identical to the temples in Thailand. My further readings made me understand that the Thai-Buddhist design had helped this wat from being destroyed by the Siamese attack in Vientiane in 1827 where the Siamese used this temple as a place for lodging.

Bila pagar ke dalam wat dah dibuka, aku pun masuk dengan pelancong-pelancong yang lain. Aku tengok sekeliling, design kat wat ni macam design wat kat Thailand. Bila aku baca lebih lanjut, rupanya memang betul pun. Dan design nilah yang selamatkan wat ni masa Thailand serang Vientiane dalam tahun 1827.

The cloister with the Buddhas.

Wat Sisaket is unique in its own ways. While most wats in Thailand used bricks and tiles, Wat Sisaket used a lot of woods in its construction. This has helped made this old Buddhist temple constructed in 1818 to look different from other wats. Another unique feature of the wat is a  cloister wall with has more than 2000 ceramic and silver Buddha statues.

Satu lagi, wat ni unik sebab dia banyak guna kayu. Memang banyak ukiran kayu, buatkan wat ni nampak lebih tradisional. Satu lagi, ada kawasan dinding banyak lubang, dalam tu ada lebih 2000 patung kecil Buddha yang dibuat dari seramik dan perak.

Looks so antique with many wooden features.
So calm and peaceful.

When I walked from one end to another, entered into the main prayer hall and stumbled upon a section which kept safe the relics of Buddha statute, I could feel the historical value of the wat. With an old stone carving like the Batu Bersurat Terengganu, it was an eye opener on how important it is to preserve the history and heritage of ours. It struck me that if places like this is not preserved, youngsters will know nothing about the history or culture of their own land.

Aku jalan dari satu hujung ke hujung yang lain, nampak batu bersurat lama dia, nampak betapa lamanya bangunan ni. Tiba-tiba, aku terfikir, macam mana kalau bangunan ni tak dijaga dulu? Macam mana kalau bangunan ni dimusnahkan? Tak ada monumen bersejarah untuk anak-anak muda belajar dan ambil iktibar dari peristiwa lama. Tak tahu tentang sejarah dan budaya sendiri.

Very detail wood carvings.
I wonder how long was taken to carve this wooden door.

After touring the whole wat complex, I was determined to see what else does Vientiane has to offer, since I believed that Vientiane is also rich with history.

Lepas habis pusing keliling, aku jadi bersemangat. Aku pasti banyak lagi boleh dilihat di sini. Bandar Vientiane ni mesti ada sejarahnya sendiri.

Statues of Budhha.
The stone letter.
Amazing architecture, indeed.

Do you think it is okay to let go of our historical places for development?

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To be continued – Part 15

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Wat Sisaket is an old Buddhist temple situated on Lan Xang Road, on the corner with Setthathirat Road. It is near to another attraction of Vientiane, the Haw Phra Kaew. Entrance fee for foreign visitors is 5,000 Kip [as of August 2013].

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