Vientiane Fude Temple
If you visit Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and walk along the Mekong River, you will come across a Chinese style building that the local tourist maps identify as a "Chinese theatre".
This is actually a Teochew Chinese temple, Fude Miao, 福德庙， founded in 1968 and dedicated to a deity the Teochews worship in their hometown in China. Every year, as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the temple organizes a 10 day Teochew opera performance. The opera performances are open to all; Chinese community, locals and tourists. So popular and so well known are these performances that the temple soon becomes known as a “Chinese theatre”.
When the temple was first founded, the area had a lot of Chinese businesses owned by overseas Chinese in Laos. Many of them have since left the country.
Today, there are still some Chinese businesses but most of the area has been transformed into a tourist hub with hotels, cafes and souvenir shops catering to tourists. Even with the transformed surrounding, the new neighbors recall fondly the Chinese operas.
There is an arch gateway with the name of the temple in both Chinese and Lao language. The main hall of the temple faces the riverbank and that means visitors approaching the temple via the arch gate sees the back of the temple not the front. The main hall has a shrine dedicated to Fude Deity and its roof is decorated with a pair of dragons chasing a flaming pearl.
The temple is currently undergoing renovation and a new temple complex is expected to be ready in 2010. Although most of the temple site is now under construction, devotees and tourists are still welcome to visit and to pay their respects. Visitors can also make a contribution towards the renovation cost.
The temple has a friendly caretaker looking after the place. There is also a little girl probably his grand daughter who is looking after a tiny kitten that shows up in the temple one day.
If you visit the temple, you can help them by making a contribution to the restoration. If you happen to be an animal lover, you can consider buying a packet of cat food for the little kitten. With no commercial interest, cat food can be found in all mini marts near the temple.
This humble Fude temple sitting by the river bank of Mekong River is an interesting example to show how a traditional place of worship can also play multiple functions and serve the local community and tourists via its cultural programs. Ask neighboring cafes and shops about the temple, they will tell you fondly about the performances and them looking forward to its successful restoration.
Vientiane Fude Temple
Along Quai Fa Ngum facing Rue Nokeo Kummane, Vientiane, Laos