August 17, 2007
Champasak is a little bit off the normal route, but like most things that are; it was well worth the effort. It’s pretty basic. Champasak is on the Thai side of the Mekong River not far from the border. The town itself runs along one main road with buildings on either side.
The houses double as shops and restaurants with temples popping up every kilometre or so. To one side the houses back onto the Mekong River with rear stilted terraces over looking the water and often a little jetty with a wooden long boat moored ready for a spot of fishing. To the other side rice paddies and shrub land slip away behind the houses until they reach the distant cloud covered hills.
Sam and I arrived there by a long boat and were pulled up outside a guesthouse. We couldn’t be bothered trying to find another guesthouse so we quickly settled, drop our bags and found a Tuk-tuk to Wat Phu Champasak: the only real thing worth seeing here.
Wat Phu is billed as the most impressive Khmer temple outside of Cambodia. UNESCO World Heritage listed, Wat Phu was constructed in the 5th century by Suryavarman II, the same guy who was later responsible for building Angkor Wat.
But in this instance rather than nature constructing itself around the ruins, as it has to give the impressive results now seen at Angkor Wat, the construction of Wat Phu was deliberately integrated into the landscape from the start, in a manner unlike any other.
The site stretches some 1,400 metres eastwards from the foot of Phu Kao (the mountain it backs onto) down to the banks of the Mekong River. It comprises of a collection of temples, shrines and waterworks.
After visiting we visited another small museum full of religious artifacts and then called it a day. Our minds were set on getting down to Si Phan Don.