Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Best. Crackpot. Ever.

Laos has thrown up a delightful surprise. You remember I was whingeing recently that it’s lacking in spectacle, specifically giant Buddhas? I spoke too soon.

This is Buddha Park, which I visited today on a local bus from the capital, Vientiane. (Now that was an experience. I had to smile watching the passengers fill most of the available floor-space with personal luggage and commercial freight, be it groceries, bedding, household items or sacks of cement.)

I fell in love with Buddha Park the minute I got off the bus. It’s exactly the kind of stupendously bonkers place that appeals to me.

The park was started in the 1950s by a religious maniac and artist who, having married Hinduism and Buddhism together in his mind, set about sculpting his own eccentric view of the cosmos.

The result is a hideous reinforced concrete nightmare that reminded me of an equally quirky and tasteless site in Singapore called Tiger Balm Gardens.

Buddha Park’s creator left Laos following the communist revolution of the 1970s and settled in Thailand, where he created a similar attraction just across the border. I wish I’d gone there. In fact, if it wasn’t going to screw up my visas royally, I’d probably go there tomorrow.

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