Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
91Trip End Jul 28, 2010
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Where I stayed
Some Guesthouse or other!
Those going to 4,000 Islands (everyone except us) got on another bus and headed off. We said our goodbyes to James, Zan and Emma and said we'd probably catch up with them on the islands. An hour later we got on our bus, which dropped us off at a crossing point on the Mekong. We hopped on a longtail boat for the crossing - there was water everywhere, and we watched as people went about their business on and around the water. Most seemed to be fishing, or transporting goods.
As we got off the boat we were met by a guy who said he had a guesthouse and would give us a lift there. Prices were reasonable, so we took him up on his offer. It was a mile or two to the centre of town, although to be honest, there was no real centre - Champasak just seems to stretch out along the road running parallel to the bank of the Mekong for three or four miles. The guest house was one that was recommended in the guidebook, and although the room was a bit basic, it looked like it would do the job for the one night we were staying. Alas, the room didn't have a TV, so catching the City v Tottenham game later that night was looking like it was going to prove tricky, especially as kick off was at 1:30am.
After a quick breakfast and freshen up we hired bicycles and set off for What Pho (the reason we'd stopped in Champasak). It was incredibly hot, and after a few miles we had to stop at a restaurant for a bottle of water. There was an Australian guy called Chris having a beer, so we had a quick chat with him before continuing our journey. The countryside was great, and we smiled and said hello to all the people we saw along the way - Loas people are very friendly. At one stage we saw a rather fat frog struggling on the road, so I stopped to see what was wrong with it. It seemed to have a broken leg, no doubt as a result of being hit by a passing moped. No sooner had I stopped than a couple of kids ran out, grabbed the frog and ran back inside with it. The family shouted 'thank you' (in Loas) - the frog was destined to be eaten for dinner I suspect.
We soon arrived at Wat Pho, Khmer ruins dating back to the 11th century. We parked our bikes and Jane hired an umbrella to protect her from the blazing sun. Near the entrance was a matching pair of temples/halls, but alas we couldn't go in to see them as they were being restored. They looked like they would have been very impressive in their day. Further up the hill we climbed some incredibly steep steps to the main temple. Although it was in a poor state of repair, it was well worth a look, and featured some excellent carvings on the door lintels. The views over the surrounding countryside were pretty spectacular too.
After a good mooch around we made our way back to our bikes and cycled to the visitor museum, which housed assorted relics from the temple and surrounding area. we stopped at the same restaurant for a bowl of noodle soup and chatted to Chris, who was finishing off a beer. He was a teacher living in Bangkok and was in Laos for a short break. After lunch we cycled back into Champasak, and had a bit of a tour around to see the place - not that there was a great deal to see. But it was a pleasant place to be, with hardly a tourist in sight.
Back at the guest house we had a bit of a rest before grabbing a bite to eat in the restaurant overlooking the river. The food was rather good, but even more amazing was the swarm of insects that were attracted to the lights. There were crickets the size of my thumb, which crashed around aimlessly - luckily none flew into us. I also spotted a scorpion scuttling across the floor, before the waiter came to the rescue and swept it over the edge of the veranda into the undergrowth 20 feet below. Definitely a better place for it. Some enormous gheckos came out too - well over a foot long from nose to tail, far larger than the tiny ones we'd been used to seeing. Most impressive, however, was the huge locust (five inches long) that looked exactly like a leaf. It was absolutely incredible, and a testament to the great wonders of nature.
I enquired of the guest house owner about watching the match on the only TV there seemd to be - located in the entry to the guest house. He said I'd be fine to get up and watch it at 1:30am, but I had a feeling that the sofas would have someone sleeping on them, and I didn't really fancy disturbing anyone in the middle of the night. So we called it a night.
Next morning I nipped to a nearby Internet cafe to check the result. Alas, Tottenham had won, ending our hopes of qualifying for Champions League football next season. I hate Spurs. I trudged back to the guest house for a somber breakfast, then we grabbed a lift to the pier (a muddy slope into the water would be a better description!) from the guest house owner.
We were taken across the river on a similar small long tail boat as we'd arrived on the previous day. On the other side we waded through the water and walked up the road to wait for the bus. It looked empty when it arrived, but as we boarded we realised everyone was lying down fast asleep. Nicola (a Manchester lass) awoke and managed to get us some spaces at the front of the bus. We chatted for some time before settling into the journey and falling asleep ourselves.