We considered many places to visit in Laos. Our traveling companions, Cliff and Ruth, threw in suggestions, and we added more. We’re all slow travelers, preferring to stay in a destination for what seems an inordinately long time to most tourists. So, for our visit to Laos, we decided to split our 4-week stay between Luang Prabang (in the north) and little Don Khon Island in the 4,000 Islands (to the south). To go from north to south, we flew to Pakse, and that’s when this adventure began.
Cliff wrote that while we were in Pakse, before heading to the island, we really needed to visit one of the most important sites in Laos, Wat Phou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. That was enough to convince us this would be a worthwhile site to visit.
None of us knew anything about Wat Phou but discovered it’s an important Khmer site in proximity to Angkor Wat, in neighboring Cambodia. Indeed, a road connected the two sites. Wat Phou predated Angkor Wat by 100 years. The original buildings are mostly gone, and the buildings we viewed had been rebuilt in the 11th and 13th centuries. At the end of the rebuilding, the kingdom and temple were converted from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use.
Our guide showed us all the features we probably would have missed on our own. We traced the water (believed sacred) back to where it flows out of the mountain rocks, and we walked a short way to see a very large boulder carved to resemble an elephant, and yet another nearby that looked like a crocodile.
A helpful museum was back near the entrance. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed there.
Can you ever stay long enough to see everything? Our guide pointed to his watch after we’d been there well over 2 hours. More was ahead. Still, we are a group of slow travelers, and this was a UNESCO site. No amount of time ever seems quite long enough. With reluctance we continued on, slow travelers turned into tourists for one day.