Monkey Kings and Mushrooms

The great monkey king, Hannuman, brought Mount Phousi to Luang Prabang all the way from Sri Lanka to whet a Laotian queen’s appetite for mushrooms. At least that’s what a Laotian folk tale would have you believe. 

Folk tales at the Garavek theater in Luang Prabang.

John and I climbed the 355 steps to the top of the mount where we were met by grand vistas and the golden Wat Chom Si. I did not, however, spot any mushrooms on the way up or down.

Overlooking the Me Kong River.

My favorite mountain climber.

The golden stupa was built in 1804.

Directly across from Mount Phousi is the Royal Palace, now a national museum.

The palace is not ostentatious.

The palace was built in 1904 during the French colonial period and the royal family of Laos resided there until 1975 when the monarchy was deposed. The king and queen were sent to a communist “re-education” camp where they died.

In the 1990s, the palace was opened as a museum. Unfortunately, no photo-taking was allowed inside the palace which was very well preserved, offering a glimpse into royal life.

I wish I could have taken a photo of the throne/reception hall. The walls were composed of a mosaic of Laotian folk tales made out of Japanese glass. Breathtaking.

Laos’most sacred Buddha,  a small, 2,000-year-old statue made out of solid gold, is housed in the Wat Ho Pha Bang or Royal Temple located at the palace.

While the temple looks old, construction on it began in the 1960’s, was halted for decades due to political upheaval, then completed in 2006. I  particularly liked the green elephants which lined its base.

This afternoon John and I split to do our own thing. He headed out of town to explore a waterfall while I opted for lunch at a riverside cafe.

Lunch on the river.

Enjoying a nice breeze in the shade of the cafe, my mind drifted while I waited on a club sandwich. I contemplated fictional monkey kings who moved mountains and real kings who lost everything to “re-education.”

Wonder where all the mushrooms are hiding on Mount Phousi?

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