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


“Cotton Castle” or a world heritage site

It started raining the evening before. Since I have arrived, not one drop. But then in the evening the flood gates opened and it poured down hard. Which was perfect because the land needed it and when I was picked up for my trip to Pamukkale it had already stopped. And here is where my error lay. It hadn’t stopped, it had just moved on in exactly the direction where I was going. So once we arrived in Pamukkale we were back in the downpour.

106 The clouds above the hills and mountains looked amazing in their formations and once we arrived in Aiden (a city on the road to Pamukkale) there was the sun shining on the Turkish panel flats. They look amazing in their ugliness. I know I sound like a judgmental bitch, but it’s not as we don’t have same ugliness in Vienna. One has to appreciate the beauty in it.


120Finally we made it to Pamukkale which means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish. Upon arrival it didn’t look like much. It was too foggy to see it from afar and when you enter the “World Heritage Site” the white stuff is actually below. So not so impressive in the beginning. What I didn’t know was that at the same site was also a city called Hierapolis and this is where we entered. Founded in the 3rd century BC it still has a theater for 18k people and quite a lot of other stuff that I didn’t see. Neither of our group was in the mood to walk around in the rain for long. So we made straight for the museum which is at the site (so great to leave the artefacts actually on site) and got a good look at what has been found there.

112 127 128 132 133The museum by the way is housed in the former spa area. When you look at the diadems above, I liked the one in front with the gold leaves the best. It looks a bit like the laurel wreath the Roman emperors were wearing. Not so shabby when you imagine yourself entering a ball with this in your hair? I can picture these three beauties with diadems in the hair dancing the night away. This must have been one very rich city by the look of it.


And blessedly it stopped raining for a bit because by then I had frostbite on my toes and I wanted nothing more than wade into the hot spring and revive myself. The pictures in the guide-book were of course super misleading because since the eighties it has been forbidden to bathe in the springs on site (why the books then still use these old pictures is a mystery to me). When Pamukkale has been declared a “World Heritage Site” it had to demolish the hotels on site and bathing was forbidden. One travertine was opened especially for tourists and there I headed in the wake of a bus load of Japanese tourists. Which was great, they are super friendly, always asking if they can take your picture and know how to take one. Lucky me!149 150 151 152 156 158 162 167 174 175 176 177 180 187

It’s also interesting to see what happens when the water stops coming. Because then nature starts to take over again.188

And so that you get an impression on how cold it was…

These are the springs that are feeding the site. In the meantime they have of course been regulated and the growth of the site is controlled.119 170

As you can see the pools have lots of different colors. This comes from the the minerals in the water (iron, sulphur). All in all we spent about 2 hours at the site, way too little to really see everything, but enough in this cold and dreary weather. I think April is the perfect time to visit it because you can really appreciate the warmth of the springs, it was just bad luck that we had rain. Also there are not a lot of tourists anywhere. I can imagine in summer this most be super crowded. From there we went for another abominable lunch. I really don’t understand what’s the point of serving this awful food especially since Turkey has a wonderful cuisine on its own. To make you fully appreciate my sentiment we were treated to Spaghetti Bolognese, fish fingers, chicken and Moussaka.

Later on I found out that only I have such delicate taste buds because the family from Rostock/Germany who was with me on the day trip thought the lunch delicious. Anyway, I shouldn’t complain because that’s what I booked.

The best was yet to come though, at least in a culinary way because in the cultural department my wishes had already been fulfilled. We stopped next to the road at a little kiosk and I bought fresh strawberries. Wow, full taste bud explosion! Yours, Pollybert208