Friday, June 17, 2016

Lao Trip 14.3 - Vat Phou Champasak

Morning of my third day, I flagged down a pedi-cab near Pakse’s city center, to the southern bus station and market. Here I got a sawngtheaw from Pakse to Champasak and even got to ride up front with the driver and his buddy.

There were many stops along the way, as the passenger truck driver serviced many outlying businesses along the highway. Notable commodities included fruit and ice.

Champasak is lots smaller than I originally imagined. I was happy to land at Saythong Guesthouse, Mekong-side, and discover that it was slow season and I had the owner, Mr. Singh all to myself.

While we watched all the ban fai (rockets) across the river -- marking some kind of special local occasion -- Mr. Singh convinced me to change my plans and go to Vat Phou Champasak this day as there would be little to no tourists and it probably worked out better for him.

I really love Khmer -- Angkor -- temples. The antiquity and stonework amazes me. My greatest experience with Angkor temples was in 2013, when I visited Angkor Wat and the Khmer temples of Siem Reap. This trip could be considered an extension to that one, as Vat Phou Champasak originally was connected in a straight line to those temples:

(shot taken from the upper section looking down to the middle and lower sections)

Vat Phou is basically separated into three parts: the lower, middle and upper. Starting with the lower section:

Walking into the middle section from the lower:

Middle section:

Walking towards the upper section with squeaky sands:

Upper section sanctuary:

Backside of the sanctuary, cliff side and rock caves:

Panel shots:

... and a selfie!

A particularly good YouTube video by Nigel Fowler Sutton, taken on a sunnier day than mine; starts out in the middle section and goes to the upper:

3.5 hours after first embarking on walking Vat Phou Champasak (“Champasaek” is how it is locally pronounced), I was exhausted. Back at the guesthouse, I took an ab nam, had a Beer Lao and some food, watched a rain storm blow in and then retired early.

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