Journey to the land of myths and legends
Lao folklore is rich in history and tradition. One classic tale is Sithon and Manola, which tells the story of Thao Sithon, a Lao prince, who fell in love with Manola. They married and were separated by war. The story follows their attempts to reunite.
Early in the story, Thao Sithon is hunting in the forest and encounters seven kinnari (half-women, half-bird) maidens bathing. He uses a snare and catches one named Manola who becomes his wife. Local people believe that this area was where Thao Sithon caught Manola.
This area is full of surreal rock formations with red sandalwood springing out between limestone crags. During the rainy season, water flows from the rocks, creating a pool where Manola is said to have bathed.
Nearby is Nang Mon Cliff, which hides a cave that monks use for meditating. Inside is a Buddhist shrine where worshippers pray for good luck. The shady cave also provides a cool resting spot from the heat outside and some spectacular photo opportunities. Keep looking and maybe you will see Manola return for a swim!
1. Jagged rocks provide shade from the hot sun.
2. The rocks here resemble sharp teeth.
3. The Hinboun River flows near the Manola Pool.
1. The cave is quite large and a cool escape from the outside environment.
2. Monks can use the long smooth passages for walking meditation.
3. Natural windows create beautiful lighting inside the cave.
4. One of the cave openings overlooks the Nam Hinboun plain.
Manola Pool is located in Khammouane Province about 20 km south of Khounkham near Phonthong Village.
Photographs by Phoonsab Thevongsa
Text by Jason Rolan