Trip Start Jun 15, 2003
57Trip End Jun 07, 2004
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So it was off to Wat Phu in Champasak. Another surprise in the form of Vong Paseu Guesthouse. Newly opened and overlooking the mighty mighty Mekong. The owners are constantly cheerful and laughing. I became an adopted aunty to their son, who terrorises the place. Amazing what some pencils and a bit of attention can do for keeping the peace.
I shared with Andy, the funny German, and somehow our mission to Wat Phu became an epic that took three days
On the second day, Tom and Amy suggested that we walk to Wat Phu and take a tuk-tuk back. We ignored the protestations that it was too far, bearing in mind Lao reticence to walk when a tuk-tuk is available. All the locals laughed when they saw us walking out of town.
We walked and walked and walked. The road crossed paddy after paddy of luminous green rice tufts, palm trees and wooden shacks in the distance. People cycled or zipped past us on mopeds, laughing at us in amazement. Our estimation of maybe two hours was certainly an underestimate.
We stopped at a roadside shack to rest and have pineapple, maak nat. Not much later, the heavens opened and we sought shelter at another roadside shack for a hour
By the time we got to the village near Wat Phu, I was practially delerious. Roasted bananas and sticky rice were a priority. It was ten minutes to closing time, so while Tom and Amy raced to get their photographs, we sat and had a beer. We kept an eye out for tuktuks, but unsurprisingly, they were all full. Tom and Amy came back just before the rains were about to start.
The lady of the little cafe rounded up the men and before we knew it, motorbikes were being produced from the houses nearby. We hopped on the back and raced back to town, wanting to miss the rain. We waved at all the people we had met on our way. An open straight road is an invitation to speed and I wanted to go faster, but my driver was sensible and unfortunately kept to the limit.
Day Three and Andy informed me that, "I am German. I will not fail my mission", so it was off to Wat Phu again. This time on bicycles. The Funny German and Crazy Aussie finally made it and have the pictures to prove
Wat Phu is a massive Khmer temple that has seen Hindu and Buddhist worship over the ages. The top tier requires a climb up the uneven staircases and stands overlooking the huge grounds. I could just imagine being a monk watching a huge royal procession coming across the countryside to pay homage here.
The shrine itself is eerie, a Big Gold buddha with three smaller figures at his feet. But my favourites were the carvings of Ganesh, the elephant-man god, and the Naga, water serpents that protect wealth and are featured on most temples.
The afternoon rains swept in over the hills and we perched on the edge of the hillside, huddled under umbrellas and watched the rain and clouds obscure the unbelievably lush countryside.