I know how much you crave these tardy blog posts, so I've sat myself down at a computer in Cambodia and started with the catch-up. No, I'm no longer in Laos. But I will be typing up a blog post about everything I have yet to blog about in Laos. I've only been in Cambodia for 20 hours so I can hardly add anything of worth.
I believe I left you all (waiting with baited breath, no doubt) about a week ago in Vientiane. So, here begins my catch-up, or rather - yours.
|Wat Mixay, Vientiane|
|Haw Pha Khaw museum|
After the museum, I did a quick hop across the road to Wat Sisaket, the oldest wat in Vientiane. It was, sadly, just another bleeding wat. I've seen so many. It did have a 'library' which used to contain buddhist scripture. The scripture has long since been removed, and the library (which is nothing more than a cramped room) has been gathering layers of dust over the years. The library is outside the main wat compound, around a corner and virtually no tourists bother to go there as it isn't immediately visible. It was by chance that I stumbled into it on my way out. The reason I was heading out was the Arc de Triomphe. Vientiane has one. An Asian version of the French monument, actually called Patuxai. It is apparently a few metres taller than the actual Arc de Triomphe, which is typically Asian. Perhaps you're starting to understand why I thought Vientiane was schizo... The views from the top of Patuxai are the best on offer in Vientiane. A full 360 degree view of the city is gifted to all people who climb the seven stories to reach it. And the view truly is fantastic. The city unfolds around you, monuments can be spied off in the distance and the buzz of cars drifts up to you from the main boulevard.
|Patuxai, Asia's Arc de Triomphe|
About an hour later I arrived in the sleepy town of Champasak. There is only one road through the whole town and the main traffic on it is herds of water buffalo. It was such a perfect place to be. There were almost no other tourists.
The nearby Wat Phu Champasak was the main attraction. It is a very large temple which predates Angkor Wat and is believed to be the blueprint from which Angkor Wat and other Khmer temples were built. About an hour after I arrived I went to find a place from which to hire a motorbike. I found a guy who would rent one out and bargained for a half-day price. Fifteen minutes later I was on a motorbike, cruising to Wat Phu.
|The main walkway to Wat Phu|
What was also mind-blowing was that there were almost no other tourists there. There were some local tourists from Vientiane and an Englishman who was cycling in and around Southeast Asia.
|A view from the top. Those square lakes are barays.|
|A crocodile carved into the rock|
|The main temple building|
|A look down on the main temple building|
The next day in Champasak I spent doing the only thing one can do in such a place, read. The town is always quiet and once you've found your spot on the Mekong, under a tree you're sorted. I arranged my ticket to Don Det and just relaxed the day away. There was nothing else to do, it was superb.
Don Det possibly the most relaxed place on the planet. It is a tiny island in the Mekong River, part of Si Phan Don (4000 Islands). I arrived on Don Det just before midday and the whole place was silent. There was not a breath of wind nor the sound of a car. Boats puttered around on the river, but everything else was still. This was Don Det life. I walked down the sunrise side and found a place to stay. Almost all accommodation on Don Det is in the form of single-room, wooden bungalows over the river. On the balcony of each bungalow there are hammocks for lazing around in. I did what any sensible person would do, I lazed.
|Don Det bungalow, hammocks are a necessity|
|A small part of Tat Li Phi|
The next morning (yesterday, as I write this) I picked up my bags, jumped on a ferry and left the island. 2 hours later the bus arrived to take me to Siem Reap. At 11 o'clock I was out of Laos and into Cambodia. At six in the evening the bus dropped all the passengers who were traveling to Siem Reap off in the middle of nowhere. 75km from Phnom Penh, 250km from Siem Reap. We waited for 2 hours. Another bus came and picked us up and took us to Siem Reap. 16 hours after departure, at midnight, the bus arrived.
P.S. During those 2 hours stop over I ate a grasshopper. Here's a couple of pictures:
|Stage 1 - mental preparation|
|Stage 2 - execution|