After our Bolven Plateau excursion J and I spent another night in Pakse at a cheap guest house called the Sabadi 2. The trouble with cheap is that this could entail rock hard mattresses, cold showers and creepy crawlies. Once again I was ravaged by some unknown insect in the night. I could feel things biting me yet could not see them. I barely got any sleep and woke up with a swollen eye and red bites my arms and back. What the heck? This time I doubt it was bed bugs and I surrendered to the idea of mosquitoes.
Swollen eye and all the tuk tuk we reserved did finally show up and we drove out of town to catch the boat over to Champasak making our way farther south still. The boat was full of entertainment value and put BC ferries to shame with its efficiency considering it was made out of wood planks latched onto a couple of long boats with a motor in the back. Loaded on were heavy work trucks transporting bricks, tuk tuks, mini vans and a assortment of foot passengers.
Champasak is still on the mainland of Laos yet on the other side of the river hence the boat ride, and is a sleepy place with barely any traffic and few tourists. Most travelers pass through to see the Wat, which is the most famous in Laos and dates back to 1100's ad around the same time as Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
J and I spent a few nights in Champasak and really liked it. We found a clean guest house room for around four dollars a night and to my relief there were no biting insects to be had. And the town was quiet at night. A welcome relief from the many noisy places we had stayed in the past.
On the third day(one of my favorites on the trip so far) we rented a couple of rickety bicycles and rode the ten kilometers out to the famous Wat or Wat Phou. One of the simple pleasures of life; get on a old red funky bicycle and ride like the wind on a rural Lao road. I loved it. Unfortunately J rented an old blue lemon who's chain fell off and his experience was not so enthralling yet he did make it to the Wat.
Wat Pho was really beautiful. There was an ancient feel to it and the walk to the top was long and lined with old gnarly trees shedding delicate yellowish white blossoms. We took many photos yet were rushed at the very top were the temple was since the Wat was suppose to close at four thirty in the afternoon. At the top were the ruins with the old statues of the buddha. It was mystical with the incense billowing through the ancient stone doorways and windows. There were quite a few lao visiting the temple and we ran into several other travelers whom we had met along our journey in Laos.
The sun began to set and it was time to head back. On our walk down to the road from the temple we met a couple from Switzerland and the woman whipped out a Swiss army knife to fix J's loose bike chain. How convenient and authentic!
Another glorious cycle back to our guest house. Children waving, mosquitoes hitting my face and rural scenery passing by. Next time I visit South East Asia or Laos for that matter, I want to do it on a bike. Traveling by bicycle changes everything.
In the evening we had dinner with a few of our other travel companions sharing stories, laughs and strong Lao Lao whiskey. So ended a fantastic day in Champasak.
Morning arrived and we packed our things to catch a van to Don Khong. Or so we thought. The short trip turned into a sort of ordeal. We thought a van or bus we just pick us up from a guest house were we bought the tickets yet instead a tuk tuk arrived and a group of us with luggage all crammed in just to be dropped off at the boat landing. There was a funny Italian couple with tons of luggage who came on the ride and I don't know how they managed to carry or keep track of so many bags. Supposedly the luggage was full of T-shirts since the women owns some sort of shop in Sardinia.
Transfer on the boat. Boat ride, get off boat, walk up hill with all luggage then wait...and wait, and wait. The bus had broken down we found out and so we waited for almost two hours and were almost going to go back to Champasak to get our money back when a van finally arrived to pick us up. Luckily right on time before a young man from Spain lost his temper. Watch out for the spanish! Feisty bunch.
The drive was luckily short and so was the boat ride and now we are finally here in laid back Don Khong and our television has satellite with movies! Not that that is reason for being here.
So far I really have been enjoying the far south Laos. It has a different feel from the rest of the country, the weather is hot, the pace of life is down to a crawl and it is a perfect place to take a relaxing vacation. So relax we will.