Champassak, LaosMarch 29, 2016 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C
So when in Pakse I'd researched things to do in surrounding area and Wat Phu came up as number one result which I'd never heard of so looked into it and it seemed like some cool ruins so we headed to Champassak, a bit south of Pakse, which was the nearest place to stay.
The town/village not quite sure where it ranks was lovely, right on the banks of the Mekong, we stayed at a place called Champassak in Love which was a little restaurant with a river view for cheap prices and the BEST ice coffee in the world! We were two of maybe 5 tourists in the town (going with town) that we saw. Very authentic experience of local, rural life in Laos, one I'm grateful for as I would not have experienced it elsewhere on my stops. Simple but Rach and I loved it and so our one or two night stay ended up extending somewhat....
We went to Wat Phu with another couple we'd met and I was blown away by it. Wasn't really sure what to expect but definitely not what we found. On arrival we get taken to the outermost point of the complex where there are with 2 huge water features, which would have likely been reservoirs, through which running in between is a paved walkway, flanked by unbudded lotus flower statues, towards the ruins ahead. In front of us are two crumbling buildings at the end of the parade and either side of it, dwarfed by an ancient, staircase that leads up to a temple on top of a terraced hill. It is the single, mot impressive man-made ancient monument I have been able to view in its full majesty at any one point. And because of that it is also my favourite ruin I have had the pleasure of travelling too as of yet. So we walked the parade, explored the buildings, climbed the stairs - which were not easy and extremely uneven! Reached the summit and that point turned around. Just wow. The hilltop backs onto the face of a mountain which completely dominates the landscape, I can see for miles along the flat land and see the same ruins I'd just walked through from a birds-eye view, absolutely spectacular. The temple itself was smaller than I'd imagined, just large enough for 2-3 people to pray at a time at the shrine. Fresh water was being captured that was dripping through the mountain and carvings of an elephant, crocodile and a Buddha foot. The site itself is a World Heritage Site and was the capital city of the Champa Kingdom, afterwards part of the Khmer empire. The temple is therefore a mix of Hinduism, which it was originally - believed to be the home of Shiva due to a geological formation on top of the mountain, and Buddhism which it remains today. History lesson over.
A trip to the island in the middle of the Mekong, Don Daeng, saw us renting completely unsuitable road bikes for dirt tracks, playing around on the beach and relaxing by a pool.
Champassak and Paske I think are my favourite places in Laos and are not on considered to be stop off points, usually just pass on through. Undeniably one of my greater choices whilst travelling was to stop off, especially with someone who I cared about deeply and could share the intimate experiences with as we were the lone tourists the majority of the time.
Side note: Really annoyingly, I lost my memory card with my photos on it for Pakse and Chammpasak, only a few uploads and Rach's to go by.Read more