Riverboats & Ruins: Wat Phao, Champasak, Laos

August 5, 2012 in Asia, Laos, Travelogue

We love a good boat ride.

The children were delighted to clamber aboard a riverboat and slip out into the fast moving current of the Mekong River at Paske. It was a lovely way to sip my morning tea and I spent some time writing postcards to send home.

Champasak is not even a one horse town, it’s a half a horse town, on the west bank of the Mekong south of Pakse. You can take a bus there, but where’s the fun in that?

The only real draw to the town is the set of ruins just south west of town. A wat and a couple of other buildings erected by the ancient Khmer. They’re the same people who built Angkor Wat, which we hope to see in a week or so when we finally drift through Cambodia. These ruins, are the pre-game show.

I’m far from an expert on ancient Asian cultures, but here’s what we learned:

  • The deities worshipped here first were Hindu, the Buddhists came later
  • There was an ancient city built on the river front, down hill from the ruins we saw
  • The Khmer were the dominant civilization for a very long time in this part of the world and they are largely responsible for what we have come to know as Thai-Cambodian & Lao culture.
  • As their power declined their cities were sacked a couple of times, finally by the Siamese and they were force marched into what is now Thailand.


All that remains is their buildings.

I can’t help but wonder what will remain of our civilizations in a thousand years. I can’t imagine that it will be anywhere near as spectacular and enduring as this.

We took some pictures for you, they are worth at least a thousand of my words:

The boats are powered by car motors with long tail propellers

Have tea, will travel (thanks for the bottle Lois!)

On the boat

Writing postcards

Pond at the ruins