Vat Phu

There was of course something in Champasak because otherwise what’s the point of going there. Champasak was the home of Vat Phu another world heritage site and supposedly older than Angkor Wat.

So this was our destination for the day. To go there we rented another scooter and Dudley drove us to the site. It was actually quite easy to go there. 10km straight ahead, over two bridges and then to the right. All very easy and straight forward, so we found it without trouble.
We paid our entrance fee and then sat down on the electric bus to get a lift up to the actual site. All very sophisticated especially since we were the only two tourists going up. Which is a bit unfair because there were other people once we were at the site (but nothing compared to Angkor Wat).
Having arrived on site we first got a bracelet full of blessings around our wrists for which we donated handsomely. Because what’s the point of money if you can’t share it with others?

So this was the start of our tour with a blessed bracelet and I was ready to be amazed again by a temple (see it’s enough to let some days go by and I was able to see another temple). Also Vat Phu was a bit different from Angkor Wat since it was built at the foot of a mountain, with another temple on top and a small spring.

 

We didn’t take the obvious column lined road, no Dudley wanted us to take the paved one and leave via the boulevard.

So coming slightly from the side we could first see the two mirror temples with the one on the left side under heavy reconstruction.

We therefore visited the one on the right side.

    

The way up was long and stony and had of course super steep steps again. But while going up the structure of Vat Phu became more and more visible.

  

  
Once up we were rewarded with a view over the valley and the Vat.

While visiting the temple on top we heard that if you pour the water from the spring on your head it brings good luck. One can never have too much of it, so of course I poured some.


     
I don’t know if it helped but it definitely hasn’t hurt to get as many blessings and good luck bracelets on this trip. We went to explore the area further and came upon some rocks higher up with elephant carvings.

  

The way down was steep as up with the added challenge of actually going down. The steps were in some parts so narrow that I had to navigate them sideways.

The fallen statue of a Buddha had something tragic but walking through the boulevard lined with columns on both sides felt majestic.

  

Since we were already in the area we set our sights on another temple just around the corner. The Hong Nang Sida Temple was just 2km away from Vat Phu but also in another world. The road there was no longer paved but a small dirt road with deep tracks, extremely muddy due to the rainfall last night and still half under water. Dudley managed to gut us there, I would have given up by at half way through. So this was how it looked in former times


and this is what we saw.

This temple has seen better times but it was still interesting to walk around. Not only we found that but also the local cows.

  

Of course the moment we walked back to the scooter it started to rain again. So we took shelter under the only construction at the site, a local house which looked lucky to be still standing. It helped with the rain though.

When we left the dirt road had changed into a mud pool and I was never more happier to drive shotgun. Dudley sneakers got dunked more than once.

Back on the paved road we had to stop for shelter a second time, the rain was coming down really hard (please see here).

But eventually we made it back into Champasak and Dudley had had it with me always sitting in the back, so he set out to get me driving. And of course I wanted to, it’s very limiting if you can only take the bicycle. Anyway, here we go.

  

 

I drove a couple more rounds but definitely not enough, so I will have to do it again soon. It was a very liberating experience that I could that. Good to know that you are never to old to learn a new trick! Yours, Pollybert

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Angkor Wat (Day 3)

My last day in Cambodia started the same way as yesterday. I was down at breakfast by 7am and pickup was again at 7:30. Today we would go to a temple a bit further away called Banteay Srei. It was 25km away from the town and it took a while to get there. On the way to the temple I could see how the Cambodian people lived and worked.

  
  

At the temple I had the good fortune to have a bus load of Chinese tourists in front of me. Pictures therefore were difficult since the Chinese liked to pose with everything. Nonetheless the temple was beautiful, especially the carvings and reliefs, and it had a small section on the building architecture of the different temples at Angkor Wat. Very interesting and it highlighted the style evolution through the years. This would have been great to see on the first day actually, it would have made such a difference to the trip.

  
  
  
  

And here’s an aerial shot that I found in the instructions section.

Next up was the Cambodian Landmine Museum, a private initiative from a former child soldier. On the way there we stopped at a ‘gas station’.

In the museum all the shells and mines displayed have been deactivated by the Aki Ra, the founder of the museum and the relief facility next door. He started deactivating the mines with his bare hands but a couple of years ago he got the proper certificate to go on searching for mines and now he destroys them according to the international standards (which is blowing them up).

  

After the museum we did one last temple, the Bantay Samre. By then I was quite tired of all the temples and ready for a change of scenery.


We drove back to the hotel where I had the time to go for lunch before I needed to finish packing. This time I ordered a glass noodle salad and it was very good. Maybe the secret to good food in Cambodia is to order Thai instead? I know this sounds unfair and I will have to give Cambodia a second chance.

At the hotel I took one last look around and then it was already time to go to the airport.

  

Mara drove me with his tuk-tuk to the airport and a little while later I was already off to Laos. Yours, Pollybert