Off to Laos! We took a flight from Siem Reap to Pakse in southern Laos on the “increasingly reliable” Lao Airlines (just make sure you call ahead to confirm your flight is actually taking off). We’d heard how sketchy the airlines used to be, but had no problems on our two-hour flight. I was mesmerized by the fabric of the seats.

We were met at the tiny Pakse airport (one gate, one plane at a time) by our southern guide, To (pronounced “toe”) and taken directly to one of the most famous temples in Laos, Wat Phu. It was built on the slopes of the sacred Pasak mountain, a site worshipped since the 5th century. Wow!

Such a gorgeous setting.

Wat Phu was a Khmer religious complex and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; foreign restoration projects are now underway to keep the place from sinking into the ground due to water erosion.

All the stones seemed to be crumbling into the greenery, and I liked the way the grounds were left in a natural state although I suspect that that had nothing to do with aesthetics and everything to do with lack of funds.

The site occupies three levels rising 1400 meters up the mountain, so there was a lot of climbing.



and up.

I think those early worshippers had small feet and powerful thighs because the steps were extremely shallow and very steep.

The view at the top was nice.

the sanctuary on the third level

Also kind of cool was the so-called Alligator Stone near the sanctuary – a Khmer animist altar said to be the site of human sacrifices during the Angkor period. Our guide told us that locals now bring water buffalo blood here as an offering every year (for good crops? I can’t remember).

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