We always love taking photos when we go to Laos and although we've taken hundreds of photos of That Luang, if we're in the neighborhood we'll take some more. This day we were nearby to visit our friend Steve, owner of Lao Mountain Coffee, whose roasting operation is within a quarter mile of That Luang, plus we were scouting for any khuts guarding the entrances to the wats surrounding That Luang. Above you will see a khut (garuda in Thailand and not as common in Laos) bolstering the corner facade of Wat That Luang with a nak guarding the stairs to the sim. Below are two photos we took of That Luang the same afternoon. One shows That Luang framed by the front gate with two naks perched above protecting That Luang, and the one below that was taken within the cloisters and we love the blue sky and clouds framing the that.
In this post we are featuring a video we took of monks chanting at Wat Visoun in Luang Prabang. In the background beneath the large Buddha statue you can barely make out a green Buddha. After the chanting we took some photos (always bring your tripod if you want to get exceptional photos!) and the green looking Buddha is actually a replica of the Emerald Buddha now residing in Bangkok, Thailand at Wat Phra Kaew. Buddha is watching...
I can listen to these monks chanting forever. You'll never be the same after sitting in one of these wats during the evening chants and allowing the pali chanting to enter into your "soul." The first time I went to Laos in November 1998 and sat in a wat like this and listened to the monks chant, I was literally covered with goose bumps for the rest of my trip. I felt like every pore in my body was wide open (although it could have been the hot peppers in the Lao food I was eating!). Those monks and other experiences in Laos changed my life forever... Just play the video and look at the photo of the Emerald Buddha and while looking at the photo and listening to the monks chant, how do you feel? Unfortunately if you click on the photo to enlarge it the video will stop, but you can always copy the photo onto your computer and then open it up to view it in a larger format.
We've been working on our videos today and the good news is that in the new Mac operating system, Snow Leopard, QuickTime version X now exports video to YouTube that is of very good quality. Five years ago we began posting video clips to YouTube, but it was near impossible to upload good quality videos. About a year ago we began uploading video to our new Vimeo Channel. But beginning today we will begin upload video to both our Vimeo Channel and YouTube Channel. The reality is that a lot more people look at YouTube and in just an hour we received our first comment about the Muang Vaen Young Girl Weaver video!
We're also beginning to seriously promote our tour to Laos in June and always one of the highlights for previous participants of our tours is to visit a wat in Luang Prabang to sit and listen to the evening chanting. It's eerie and like stepping back into time. Can't you imagine yourself sitting here inside a centuries' old wat immersed in the sound of the monks chanting? It gives me goosebumps when I listen to it...every time. And what's fun is that the style of chanting varies from wat to wat and can vary if there are a lot of younger monks (we affectionately call them monklets), a small group, large group, small wat where the acoustics are good or a larger wat where there is more of an echo effect. Wat Visoun is famous for backing up against Mt. Phusi and for it's large "watermelon" stupa.
The Lao word in the center of the heart above translates literally as nam jhai, "water" "heart". An act of nam jhai, of water flowing from the heart, is an act of kindness, an opening of the heart. A quality highly respected by the Lao and Thai people.