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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

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7 December 2014

Champasak: Wat a cracker

14th - 16th November 2014

View from the Mekong 
Will "the cabin boy" Dadson
It took two ferry crossings and a short bus journey to get from Don Det in the 4000 islands to Champasak.

Champasak is a great pit stop for anyone heading north or south along the main tourist track. It's position on the Eastern bank of the Mekong means that it's isolated from the main highway and provides peaceful places to relax and listen to the steady churn of the river.

Jono storming ahead
Lakes at the entrance 
Wat Phu from the main path
Bit of a climb to the top 
There's only one true sight close to Champasak, Wat Phu. Like the Temples we visited around Siem Reap, Wat Phu was constructed during the rule of the Khmer Empire. The temple is by no means in as pristine condition as Angkor Wat with crumbling walls and eroded carvings. However unlike its Cambodian neighbours Wat Phu is still an active worship sight and it's elevated, dominant position offers stunning views of the surrounding fertile floodplain sand the Mekong beyond. Wat Phu also boasts two unique animal themed stones. The elephant and crocodile stones take a little bit of searching to locate and I do think the locals embellished the grandeur of these artefacts a little. Check out the pics .......impressive eh.

The Elephant Stone. Nice eh
The Crocodile Stone. Wow!

Whilst walking around Champasak on our first evening we were informed by a Frenchman working in the area that the local community hall performs a traditional shadow puppet theatre every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. As the pubs aren't open late we opted to check it out.
We had seen a performance at the water puppet theatre in Hanoi two months ago and despite the immediate lack of facilities and funding the locals did an incredibly good job (although I have to admit Jono and I did fall asleep a few times. Only because we were so enveloped in the plot, promise). A ticket cost 50,000 kip (£4.10) and all the proceeds are pumped back into funding the community centre. It must be noted that the show is obviously performed in Laos and information sheets are displayed explaining the plot although only in French. In my opinion this made it more fun as you can fill in the plot gaps yourself.

Next stop Pakse!