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Releasing birds for good luck atop Mount Phousi; the 100m high hill in the centre of town, that once ascended provides a stunning, sweeping view of Luang Prabang that does not disappoint.
Located in the commercial centre of UNESCO listed Luang Prabang, between Sisavangvong and Kingkitsarath Roads on the peninsula between the Mekong and Nam Khan River's, Mount Phousi is hard to miss.
Phou si, meaning sacred hill, is a local religious site and a highlight of Luang Prabang. The grounds are home to two Buddhist temples: Wat Tham Phou Si (positioned halfway up the hill, accessed best via the Sakkaline Road entrance) and Wat Chom Si, located at the summit.
During open times, 5:30 am to 6 pm, at all stairway entrances you will find people selling blessings to leave at the temples, and tiny little birds in cages, to release at the summit. Lao people believe that if you set a bird free, you will enjoy good luck and happiness in the future. I purchased the birds. Not only because I'd do anything for a bit of good luck, but also because the cages were very tiny, and there were two birds inside. Be free little birds, be free.
After conquering the approximate 300 relatively easy to climb stairs, I reached the top, and I looked like I had just stepped out of a shower. Dehydrated, my eyes first fixed on a vendor and I was able to purchase water. I needed to rest. After walking around the temple once I sat down to enjoy the view.
The view from the top is incredible, a sweeping view of Luang Prabang with its many temples and mountain ranges on the horizon.
While seated, two young Buddhist student monks practising their English approached me to take a photo and asked to survey me regarding tourism in Laos. The questions they asked were cute. Do I like Laos? Would I come back to Luang Prabang? What do I love about Luang Prabang? Do I know any Lao music? Etc. I asked for a photo afterwards. The monk that asked most of the questions was happy to oblige, however, by the facial expression in the image, I think the other, not so much.
Next, to release the birds.
I made my way over to the highest point of Mount Phousi and took a seat on the rocks. The cage was a little difficult to open, but I finally got there. Good luck was hopefully absorbed, and the two little birds flew off into the distance.
Many tourists head to the Summit of Mount Phousi to witness sunrise and sunset; this is considered the best time to go. I, on the other hand, was leaving at 5 pm and thankful to be passing the hoards of tourists heading up the stairs.
MOUNT PHOUSI LOCATION
Main Entrance: Sakkaline Road.
Other Entrances: Sisavangvong Road, Kingkitsarath Road.