Seeking Hidden Buddhas in Backroads Asia

Photographs and Text by Josh Bulriss

In November 2017, I started my second journey in Tokyo, Japan. The plan was to visit five remarkable cities in total: Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, and Mie. I had learned so much from my first journey and felt a lot more confident in how to go about locating Buddha statues.

After eight days in Japan, I flew south to Bangkok, Thailand, where I was very fortunate to have the help of Tararat Muangkhoat, a Thai native fluent in English, Thai and Laotian, which was incredibly helpful when speaking with locals and looking online for places to see off the beaten track. From Bangkok we headed North, stopping in eleven provinces along the way to Laos. A favorite along this route was the small, charming town of Mae Hong Son. This remote, mountainous northern province is located on the border of Myanmar with its superb blend of Thai and Burmese style monasteries dating back to the 19th century.

From northern Thailand, we visited four beautiful provinces in northern Laos: Ban Houayxay, Luang Namtha, Muang Xay and Luang Prabang. The mountainous geography of this region, connecting city to city over narrow roads with twisty turns and sharp curves, makes for quite an adventure. The last stop in Laos was Luang Prabang, the royal capital until 1975, with some of the most remarkable temples, particularly Wat Xieng Thong, which dates back to the 16th century.

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Photographs and text © 2018 by Josh Bulriss. Josh is a freelance photographer, cultural chronicler, traveler and social media blogger who sees his work as a way to “fill peoples’ day with joy, my way of contributing to a better world.” To see and read more about Buddha Project I and II, visit his gallery at

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