Ruins, motorboats and songthaews


I met Tina again at breakfast, and we hired a couple of bikes to take the 10km ride out to Wat Phu Champasak. The ride was very pleasant : the roads were flat and for the most part, nice and even, and flanked by rice fields and mountains either side.

The ancient Khmer religious complex of Wat Phu is spread over the lower slopes of Phu Pasak. Whilst i imagine the sight pales in comparison to Angkor Wat in Cambodia or The Grand Palace in Bangkok, it is a peaceful, almost mystical place to spend a few hours. The ruins give you a good idea of what the site looked like in its entirity and there is a fantastic view of the surrounding valleys from the very top of the Wat Phu complex. Wat Phu achieved world heritage status in 2001.

Once we’d returned the bikes to the guesthouse, we began what was to be a difficult and expensive (and tiring!) journey to Dong Khong island, highlighting the benefits again of visiting Wat Phu as a day trip from Pakse, rather than staying in Champasak. However, if you fancy an adventure, have no particular timescales for your travel and no set budget for your transport costs, then taking the route I did was certainly a lot more fun.
The journey consisted of :
  1. Walking with backpacks : 20 minutes (free)
  2. Tuk tuk to boat landing (3,500KIP each)
  3. Boat across the Mekong (2000KIP each)
  4. Walking with backpacks along a main road and sweating like pigs for 30 minutes (free)
  5. Hitching a ride in a cattle truck (could have been free but i gave the guy 3000KIP for his troubles)
  6. Songthaew containing 7 passengers : approximately 2 hours (50,000KIP each)
  7. Motorboat to Dong Khong (10,000KIP each)

The whole journey had taken approximately 3.5 hours and had cost 68,000KIP each!

Tina and I are staying at the Mekong guesthouse, i have a nice big room for $3 per night and Tina paid the extra dollar for a view of the river. There’s a pretty little restaurant attached to the guesthouse, which is shrouded by palm trees, overlooks the Mekong and there are some friendly resident cats who try to climb on to your lap and eye up your food whilst you’re eating.

There’s not a great deal to do on the island, and in hindsight i think i may have arrived here a little prematurely, but i do deserve a bit of relaxation time (almost every day of my trip so far has been packed with travelling or sightseeing of some description) so if i can find a peaceful spot of beach and a good book then i’ll be happy for a day or two.

Photo is of Wat Phu, Champasak

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