- Paya Soke
When you’re in the presence of a sacred place, I think you could feel it, I know it happened to me. I’ve been in many holy places before, but the one place that has such a strong force to me was the road to Vang Vieng and heading towards Luang Prabang Laos, and might be that it was the guilt that I feel, we didn’t stop to pay our respect.
This place was nothing fancy, it was a place that lies behind the curvy road, and as we drove up the mountain road of Hwy 13, I saw several cars parked along side of the road, and a group of people paying their respect to a spirit house. The smokes from their incense sticks were forming clouds above them, I asked my cousin what they were doing. He said it was Sarn Jao Pou (The Shrine of a Sacred Spirit), they’re paying their respect and asking him for a safe journey .
Our vehicle climbed up the road slowly and we passed without stopping since we didn’t have any incense stick with us, I was mesmerized by the image in front of me that I forgot to take some pictures. I silently said my prayers as we passed Sarn Jao Pou. The name of the road made me feel uneasy and might be that I grew up in the Western society where number 13 is considered unlucky, but I didn’t have a chance to ask my cousin if Lao People living in Laos feel the same way.
I’m a Buddhist, and why do I worry so much about Animism you might ask because worshiping Sarn Jao Pou is an Animistic belief. If I were raised in Laos, this would have made perfect sense because Buddhism in Laos is often closely tied to animist beliefs and belief in ancestral spirits. And here I was raised in the US, but the feeling and belief is equally as strong as Laotians living in Laos, and I’m not sure why. I often thought that having six senses is a gift, but to some that actually have it might think differently, more like a curse I would say, and at that moment as we traveled on this mountain road, I was glad that I don’t have six senses, Hwy 13 looks so treacherous and I couldn’t imagine what I would see along the way.
A long introduction to my next post, I found an interesting article written in Thai language titled “Be careful If you asked for a child from a Sacred Place.”