Since I was not able to visit my hometown, Ban Nongbone during my trip to Laos last year, I asked Aunt Kian to drive by the neighborhood and take some photos for me. After her visit to Wat That Luang, which is up the street from my former house, Aunt Kian went to Wat Nongbone, my temple and also where I started first grade there. The temple is a resting place of my sister. She was cremated there and her Tad is there somewhere. When I go back to Laos the next time I will try to find her Tad. I was heartbroken that my parents didn’t take me to the temple to pay respect to my deceased sister.
As a little kid I spent a great deal of time at both Wat That Luang and Wat Nongbone, helping with whatever chores I could. I also took English course after dinner at Wat Nongbone. Since I was the youngest kid in class I was often teased by the older students about ghosts coming out at night to get me. Sometimes I would have to walk pass the Sala in the middle of the temple where they would do ceremony for the dead. On the left side of the main entrance is where they phow sop or cremate the body. At night time it is quite scary with the leaves of the Bohdi tree would be waving and making noises. The older kids would tell me that’s when the ghosts would come out.
I was so scare of the ghosts but I told myself to be brave each time I went to the night school. Sometimes I would run all the way home. It was very dark from the main street to my house with coconut trees and no light. Sometimes I thought the ghost would be hiding behind the tree to get me. After the death of my sister. I was so afraid to sleep at night because I thought she would come and scare me. I later told myself that if she does come pay me a visit, then I will ask her nicely to not scare me.
Since I wanted to study English so bad I tried to think positive and be brave. I later took typing lesson from a Buddhist monk, who was a friend of the family. The building was at the back of the temple and where all the big Bodhi trees were standing. It was very scary sometimes since the older kids would be hiding behind the trees and would jump out, trying to scare me. I told myself if I want to learn, then I better not be afraid. The teasing didn’t last long since they couldn’t get to me.
Hello Darly “My Dear litle sister” I hope you don’t mind ,call you litle sister do you? It’s amazing that there’s class at night to learn English at the Wat. Do you have to pay money to learn?. is the Monk who teach, or regular teacher. I guess that’s how you get your foundation of reading and writting english from huh! I always want to support or create somekind of that program in Laos especially for the kids that don’t have money, such as “Free ESL Class” have you thought of something like that.
Hi again Ai Sirivanh,
One particular Monk at the Wat was a friend of the family and also an English teacher. It was a paid course and my parents made a contribution to the Wat for a specific amount and then made special offering to the Monk to show gratitude. The money from the students went into a fund for maintaining the Wat. It is sad though for me to see the Wat in such a terrible shape. When I saw the photos, the first thing I want to do is to gather as many people as possible to go repair the buildings and give a fresh coat of paint.
I don’t think there is an ESL class at the moment for free in Laos so that is a good idea to start such a project. I know English is being taught in school at the moment but for middle and advanced levels, having a free ESL for kids and adults would benefit a great deal of people.
during Khao Phansa 2007, i visited a friend at this temple. do you know what is that mound in the 6th photo? looks like the remains of a ‘that’ that collapsed…but my friend didn’t know as he’d just moved there. abbot was a little too scary to ask (busy scolding people).
this wat did look a bit rundown esp compared to nearby ones around That Luang. but what matters more is the Dhamma & how strong it is within the people of the community? (‘software’ rather than ‘hardware’ :P) anyway there was one building that was in process of being rebuilt, & the drum tower & abbot’s residence & at least one other building looked relatively new. i saw the primary school too, but didn’t go in. think it’s now involved in PADETC Quality Schools programme.
another friend from another temple comes here to attend night classes in Maths & Sciences taught by a layman (think a university student who lives as a ‘dek wat’ in another temple). so night classes still go on 🙂 but no English classes.
hmm wonder if this temple still does cremations…what i’ve observed (in Thailand too) is that city temples that do tend to have more funds & nicer buildings e.g. Wat That Foun.
do you have (or want )any more photos of the place? i might have a chance to visit it again this Oct.
I was wondering about the same photo as well but can’t recall what it was before.
I asked my aunt in Vientiane about the wat and she told me perhaps they like to keep it old looking for cultural reason. But I think you can improve its look with a fresh coat of paint and still preserve the architecture.
In the end it’s about the involvement of the local people. Ban Nongbone is more modern these days with nicer houses and higher income. I don’t know if the community is pouring enough money into the temple.
Thank you for your kind offer about the photos. My aunt was at my former house on Sunday to take some pictures for me and also took some photos of Wat That Luang at a distance. She will go back there again this weekend to take more photos of Wat Nongbone for me.