Wat Phu

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August 6th 2004
Published: August 6th 2004
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I left Pakse at 7am.  My tuk-tuk driver was a lazy bastard and took me to the wrong bus station so I missed the truck I was supposed to catch down to Champasak.  I ended up hiring a sawngtaew for the reasonable price of $3 as I wasn't going to stay in Pakse a moment longer than I had to; there's very little to do there except drink fruit shakes and eat too much Indian food at the cafe opposite my hotel.
I was driven to Ban Muang by the Mekong at a breakneck speed.  There's something frightening and exhiliarating about travelling so fast.  I tried to convince myself that if we crashed I would land in one of the mud puddles with a wallowing buffalo and be ok.  At Ban Muang I caught a boat across the Mekong.  It was the strangest 'boat' I'd ever seen: two wooden dugouts joined together with a rectangular platform for passengers to either stand on or sit on as their are no chairs.  It began to rain as we headed across the Mekong.  It was truly spectacular!  I dumped my bag on the platform, pulled my hood over my head to keep off the rain and just soaked up the incredible view of the brown, broad-bodied river.  Nature really does have a way about her.  Once I reached the other side of the river I walked through the back of a muddy temple and came out in Ban Phapin.  A few guys with motorbike tuk-tuks  - kind of like a motorbike with an attached sidecar that you sit in - were waiting and I hired oe for the three km journey into Champasak.
Champasak is a very small town.  It's main street is more like a country backroad, it's paved but the surrounding backstreets were just churned mud from all the rain.  There were turkes gobbling about the street and ducks frolicking in the puddles like naughty children, buffaloes nosed around gardens - peaceful, quiet, laid-back.  Just what I needed.
It was only 8km to Wat (Temple) Phu but because it was raining I passed up the bicycle and took another tuk-tuk.  The ruins are awesome.  They're very different to Angkor but as interesting.  They're set against a backdrop of mountains.  A mist was curling around the mountain tops and a large black cloud was hovering above, brewing up a storm.  When I arrived I had the whole site to myself.  From the ruined palaces, to the promenade, to the sanctuary at the top of a steep climb of stone steps - all was bathed in a hue of green from all the recent rain.  Stones were swathed in thin covers of moss, walls were sprouting grass, the trees were lush and dripping water and the lakes near the ruined palaces were alive with the green and pink of blossoming lotus plants.  The memory of this place is forever imprinted in my mind.
My week is already over!  I could have kept going and going and going...


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