Champasak & The Sabaidees

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
1
16
40
Trip End Feb 03, 2011


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Where I stayed
Khamphony Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Champasak,
Monday, January 10, 2011

I could not wait to get out of Pakse. The bus ride to Champasak town was a one hour breeze. After a 15 minutes boat ride across the Mekong river to Champasak proper, I was still 30 minutes walk away from the town centre. My backpack was looking forward for a mini trek but I was not. When I eventually arrived at a mini roundabout flanked by a school, a government building of some sorts and a row of guesthouses, I was pretty flat - I had forgotten about breakfast! The best value room I had stayed in Laos so far, was this 40,000 kip room with hot water shower and ensuite, at Khamphony Guesthouse near the town centre. Lady owner was very hospitable, always smiling and approachable.
 
After my late breakfast, the next half an hour was spent scouting for an auto gear scooter for hire but in vain. Desperately tried a crash course on manual gear motorbike and failed miserably. The last option was back on the bicycle again. I almost heard the protests from where the sun dont shine. The 10 km to Wat Phu (my personal pilgrimage to this pre-Angkorian temple ruin) was surprisingly smooth despite the scorching sun and shadeless route. One of the hilarious moments was from a fellow Japanese traveller called Shogan, who when approaching the Wat Phu entry signage, excitedly exclaimed "What A Poo! What A Poo!"
 
Wat Phu ruins, set at the base of Mount Penis (literally) struck a chord with me personally, from the long entrance lined with ancient phallic stone posts to the enigmatic ruins of its palaces and the top temple after a steep climb to the face of the mountain. The rewards were splendid views to Champasak and beyond as well as the various cravings of aligator and elephant on stone faces dated as old as 5 AD. Though smaller than the monumental cousin Angkor Wat, this UNESCO World Heritage site is as mystical as its later Angkor legacy in Cambodia. The slow bicycle ride back to town was cruising and frequently stopping for snapshots, absorbing the sights of rice fields and village life.
 
Caught up with Shogan in the evening at Khamphony where we exchanged travel tips - he was heading up north Laos from Cambodia and I was heading the opposite way - perfect. I remember Shogan vividly - he effortlessly communicated with Laotian folks even with his limited command of Laos language and even drew plenty of laughters and cheers. When he wrote his email on my journal, it was accompanied by a cartoon of him saying "thank you".
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