Wat PhouJuly 12 in Laos ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C
Today was the reason we came to Pakse - visiting the ruined temple of Wat Phou just outside town. We'd organised an early pickup from our tour driver, simply because we knew the site would involve a bit of walking and stair climbing, and the heat was once again going to be oppressive.
While we were having breakfast in the hotel lobby, a young Irish girl also staying approached us and asked if she could join our tour. Since we'd basically just booked a tuk-tuk driver for a half day and there was plenty of space, it was no problem at all and she hopped in once our ride turned up.
The site is about an hour south of town, and we spent the tuk-tuk ride chatting and getting to know our sudden new companion, Clare. Eventually we arrived, paid our entrance fee and headed into the small museum which had a UNESCO certificate and some significant finds from the ruined temple.
Wat Phou is the remains of a Hindu temple complex that is built into the side of a hill. It runs along a long single axis, with a causeway between two lakes, and then a series of large staircases running between temples up the hill. It was originally used as a temple site starting from about the 5th century AD, but most of the remaining buildings date from the 11th-13th centuries. It was built by the Khmer Empire (centred on Angkor) which ruled a lot of SEA during the medieval period.
We spent an interesting couple of hours wandering around, slowly climbing stairs and taking photos in the intense heat, despite it still being only mid-morning. Some of the buildings were in pretty good condition, though others were closer to rubble than ruin. One thing I quite enjoyed though was that as the Hindu Khmers were pushed out of the area, the shrines were repurposed into Buddhist shrines, so the main areas now have Buddha statues and people praying etc. Interesting to see people lighting incense sticks to Buddha in a building covered in carvings of Shiva!
We were done by 11am and so headed back to Pakse via a restaurant overlooking the Mekong. Nice little lunch there, before retreating to the hotel and glorious air-conditioning. Didn't do much else for the rest of the day aside from spend the afternoon working away on various things.Read more