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Laostories: October Ork Phan Sa (End of Buddhist Lent)

Is it already Thursday? Wow. Time really does fly. I also just realized it’s been a year since I took my first trip back to Laos. It definitely was the back-to-the-motherland experience that everybody talks about. But they forget to tell you how much of your subconscious self is still left lost in Laos.

This was the ‘home’ country where under post-’75 communist rule, my father, a former Royal Army lieutenant was imprisoned for years and my family of seven siblings were stripped of our livelihoods and forced in seminar labor camps. There’s no deeper connection than the feeling of wanting and needing to go back to a dark past and a vivid present.

When I think about then and now, it’s difficult to imagine a completely different landscape in Laos-  socially, politically, economically, and especially environmentally. With most of Southeast Asia under deep  floods today, it sparked my memories of what last year felt like to me. It was the season of Ork Phan Sa (End of Buddhist Lent), Boun Song Heua (Dragon Boat Race  Festival), and Boun That Luang (That Luang Festival). Hands down, one of the best seasons to submerse yourself in Laos and to be khon Lao.

It’s quite a stark contrast to the early sunsets, changing leaves, and bitter cold here in the Twin Cities. In Laos, the rain and fog moved aside and the skies were clear enough to see all the fresh greens and fresh faces before rainy season took over. Culturally and spiritually in shock, to say the least. There are plenty of photos, videos, and stories that are still in the back of my mind. It’s still kept alive and thriving with imperfect images. Some are scattered on Facebook and some waiting to be revisited. In more posts ahead, I’ll continue to reminisce that life of humble simplicity which is sitting on the memory train of smoggy skyscrapers, steaming kanum coke, and murkey nam nyeun. Today, I’ll share a tiny piece of what I experienced during this exact time last year…

Let’s take a cyber trip to Vientiane Laos. Check out Vientiane Times‘s short clips from this year festivities: “Ork Phan Sa, otherwise known as the end of Buddhist Lent, contains a process of 4 distinct stages. An offering of Alms, a candle light procession, the lighted boat and finally the famous boat race signalling the end of the wet season.”

The 4 Stages of Ork Phan Sa – Videos


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