Oops, alomost forgot. Kakada offered us a taste of grilled water buffalo meat (street food). I declined.
|Fish ponds along the road--often with tilapia|
|Tree orchards....not sure what kind|
|A small statue in front of one of the rooms, where we could use the bathroom.|
|Unusual variegated flower|
On our way to our home stay, we stopped at Vat Phou (Wat Phu) in the Champasak region (whose capital is Pakse. Over 700,000 people live in this region.)
|Entrance (where one pays the fee) to the ancient Wat|
I don't remember seeing a museum here, but I did buy a pretty pair of earrings for my daughter-in-law here.
This site, under an unusually shaped 1400-meter-high mountain (almost 4600 feet), has been sacred to three cultures. The oldest known temple on this site was here in the 5th century. From the 6th to 8th centuries the Chen La Kingdom worshiped this site and appeased the gods by sacrificing one teenage by and one girl (ages 12 to 14) annually. A pre-Angkor Khmer civilization built most of the building we saw, starting in the 9th century and continuing into the 13th century. . Later the buildings were changed from Hindu temples into Buddhist shrines of the Theravada tradition. (Information paraphrased from Insight Guides: Laos and Cambodia, a wonderful series!) What Phu begins at river level and rises three levels to reach the foot of the mountain. There is a large lake/reservoir that we drove/ walked by to get to the Wat.
|Van that we road on for a mile from the entry to get closer to the Wat|
|Map of Site|
The limestone for construction was from nearby but the volcanic rock had to be brought from far away. There was a road 240 km straight to Angkor Wat, the center of the Khmer empire for a time.
At the bottom before the climb are two areas of buildings, on the left and right. Originally one side was to prepare the the male teen being sacrificed and the other for the female teen being sacrificed.
Steps up to the front area are quite steep. The 2 Marks were quite helpful!
Area inside one of the bvuildings--you can see how high the roof once was when you look at the photo below. The room was quite long, probably divided into several rooms at one time?
|Close up of the carving at the bottom of the picture below|
|Trio of trees growing out of ruins|
|Frangiapane, the national flower of Laos|
|Foot on left, torsos and legs of statues|
|Easy part of climb|
|Shrine--many statues are "clothed"|
|Women who make flowers for shrines--they are really lovely|
|Getting a bit harder|
|Big steps up--easier for me to go up than go down though|
|View from the top--notice the steps|
|Panoramic view from trop--a new tool I tried on my camera|
To the left was a pretty view and also a cave-let with special sacred water that has been there for 100s of years..
|One of the few places I saw litter--it probably was cleaned up right away|
|A shrine was on the way--my water bottle to show size of carving|
|Water dripping down from holes in pipes|
|Exit for water where pilgrims can get a little and apply it to their faces (?)|
As we walked past the right of the temple, we saw an unusual rock. It was considered special too so there was a small shrine in front of it.
|The elephant rock|
|Walked through a more jungle-like area--path was bumpy|
|Saw more downed pieces of temple, etc.|
|More recently made stone piles|
|View from near the top looking down again|
Along the way, we saw more completed flower sculptures for pilgrims to buy to put in front of Buddhas. They were quite pretty.
|I was very impressed by the geometric design.|
|More frangiapane flowers, the national flower of Laos|
|An unusual color of Bird of Paradise growing on the mountain.|
You can read more about Wat Phu at:
http://www.vatphou-champassak.com/ (which is a bit harder to follow)
The next entry of the blog will be about the homestay, one of the highlights of our trip!