Across from the Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang Laos, lies Wat Pahouak a small and neglected Luang Prabang Wat.
Wat Pahouak is one of this town’s oldest Wats.
The historic quarter of Luang Prabang straddles the high peninsula between the Mekong River and the Nam Khan and has been totally protected by a Unesco World Heritage Listing since 1995.
Although the Wats in this peaceful town some 300 km north of Vientiane are being restored, it is a slow process and Luang Prabang Wat decays while waiting patiently.
When we visited in April 2010 the Wat was deserted even though it was positioned in a busy spot, across the road from the Royal Palace Museum, and at the base of the northern ascent of MT. PHOUSI.
The place was deserted but a slender carved door was propped open – perfect for a private viewing of the murals that were in surprisingly good condition. Some were very faded from heat, humidity and dust, but others still had good colour. The three gilded buddhas were the originals and the scenes on the walls depicted life along the Mekong.
I hope that one day soon it will be Wat Pahouak’s turn to be restored. Until then check to see if it is open when you walk by, and pop in to have a look.
I have chosen to use the spelling as per the sign at the entrance. In other places it is spelt Wat Pahuak. Sometimes there may be a custodian sitting at the door charging a small entrance fee.
Being time poor we had flown direct from Bangkok, but a popular way to reach Luang Prabang Laos is by slow boat, two nine-hour days away from Huay Xai on the Cambodian border.