Champasak and Don Daeng

We were on Laos time. What to do today? Hmmm…

Eventually we moved on from the Four Thousand Islands, which are located on the southern Laos border with Cambodia, and make our way northwards.

We caught a morning boat back to Ban Nakasang. From there we caught a highway coach (how roomy!) which dumped us by the side of the ride at a junction with the road to Ban Muang (where we had been told we’d be dropped). Another tuk-tuk to the river, where we crossed via long-tail to the Champasak side. Meanwhile a mini-bus was being off-loaded from the ferry.

mini bus being unloaded at Ban Muang, Champasak, Laos

Note that Passengers are Removed

On the other side, fed up with over-priced tuk-tuks, we started walking towards the town. Then we met the super-smiley owner of Vong Paseud Guesthouse, who invited for a free ride on his tuk-tuk to see his rooms. We were sold: riverside, restaurant, bike rentals and all for a reasonable price. We got to watch the sun rise over the Mekong and life on the river. Seems we’re happiest by water.

sunrise over the Mekong River, Champasak, Laos

Sunrise over the Mekong

fishing on the Mekong River, Champasak, Laos

Evening Fishing

boys playing on the Mekong River, Champasak, Laos

Recycling for Fun

Also while sitting on the deck we saw two geckos fighting; first time we’d seen that.

two geckos fighting, Champasak, Laos

Hang On!

The bottom one fell but Sue spotted it moving in the garden below.

We bicycled the 10km to Wat Phu Champasak, an ancient Khemer religious site.  The ride was nice, passing through a series of small villages.  The site has been in use since the mid 5th century and while quite small compared to Angkor Wat in Cambodia has its own unique charm.

walkway up Wat Phu Champasak, Laos

Looking Back at Promenade

The wat is situated on the lower edges of Phu Pasek, a mountain, that has a lingua shaped tooth at the peak. That and a spring feeding from the wat’s location have made the site sacred for centuries.

Crocodile carving at Wat Phu Champasak, Laos

Crocodile - Recessed Carving

First a Hindu complex, and later Buddhist, there are carvings and sculptures form both religions, which happily co-exist.

Shiva carving, Wat Phu Champasak, Laos

Shiva

spring, Wat Phu Champasak, Laos

Spring Water

sanctuary, Wat Phu Champasak, Laos

Sanctuary

Wat Phu Champasak was a beautiful place to visit, with lots of shady spots and a nice breeze. From the upper level we could look back and see how the promenade continued beyond the baray (large ponds) and formed a straight line with the modern road, which follows the ancient road that led from the ancient city to the wat.

The next day we took a boat to Don Daeng, a large island in the Mekong. We’d heard it was very tranquil with a road around its perimeter. We could also see the huge sand beaches from our guesthouse.

boat from Champasak to Don Daeng

Morning Boat Ride

We were dropped on the beach where we admired a local form of catamaran used by a resort and cows lounging by the water’s edge.

catamaran on beach, Don Daeng, Laos

Or is that a Trimaran?

We passed one of the most beautiful small Buddhist temples I’ve yet seen.

 

Buddhist temple, Don Daeng, Laos

A Little Beauty

The first part of the walk was very lovely: in the shade of trees, passing through a couple of small villages. But then, as we went down the east side of the island, the pathway turned incredibly dusty and the villages were few and far between.

dust on road, Don Daeng, Laos

Inches Thick Dust

village, Don Daeng, Laos

Small Huts in Village

The huts seemed to be used for seasonal farm workers.

We decided to cut back across island about half way. We were baking in the sun and happy to find some cool refreshments back on the west side. We spent some time sitting with store owner and another local watching a Thai soap opera while we cooled off. Then a quick dip in the river and we were picked up by our boatman, who’d been watching for us from the guesthouse.

Champasak may not be on many travelers radar but we enjoyed our time there and thought the guesthouse was excellent.

The ever smiling and laughing owner took us and some other folks the next morning via his mini-bus to Pakse, a major transport hub in southern Laos.

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