Saturday, September 14, 2013

Southern Laos: Pakse & Champasak

I've said it time and time again...Laos is just amazing. We look through these photos and
not only miss so much about the country, but also become inspired. Inspired to live as simply 
as possible, just as the people here do. Inspired to do good to others who are less fortunate. 
Inspired to continue seeing the world and all it has to offer. It's crazy how a trip to see
this country and get to know the culture can have so much inspiration, right?

The initial plan was to go to 4,000 Islands but due to a little mishap in getting there, we
missed the last bus. Instead we paid a tuk tuk driver to take us out to a rural area, 
which of course is right up our alley! Champasak it was and here you have it.
How to enjoy a non-touristy area and have plenty of time to relax:

*Take a bus (cheapest way) or tuk tuk to Champasak
you'll quickly see how rural you get from Pakse to the land of one main
dirt road and very few places to go. The tuk tuk will allow you to see more of the land
and capture photos while you drive as the bus would not allow for good photos
and all the fresh air!

this is where you hang out of the tuk tuk. Be sure to hold on so you don't go flying out!

*Stay at Anouxa Guesthouse ($12-20 USD) for a cheap bungalow on the river
or Inthira ($25 USD) if you want to splurge. Inthira's restaurant was one of 
our favorite places to eat...we found that it was clean food and no GI issues
while we were there!

*Play cards under your mozzie net during a major storm! 
Why not?

*Wake up to a view of the river, people fishing or boating, and sometimes a major rain storm!
*Enjoy breakfast on the deck over the river (don't worry, it's covered) or head to Inthira's restaurant.

*Visit Champasak Spa
even if you've never had one, now is the time. When you only pay $30-30 USD per person
for a full day of spa treatment, you can't go wrong! We decided to splurge on this
part of our vacation and why not when it goes to a good cause! They are located next door
to Anouxa guesthouse, the owner is a French woman, and their intentions are to provide
Laos people with a good job, good working hours (not overworked and not underpaid), 
and especially making it non-sexual as other massage and spa places do in SE Asia.
Between each service you'll get to sit in the garden, looking out over the river and
enjoying small cups of wonderful tea and fresh fruit. Can't go wrong here and what a 
great cause to give to all while you get time to relax in the middle of your backpacking trip!

*Rent bikes from your guesthouse
take to the dirt & gravel road until it dead ends at the 
'mini Angkor Wat' aka Wat Phou

All the ruins are left here at Wat Phou, some held together a little better than others 
but many pieces are scattered on the grounds

*pay close attention to the way of life!
simple living at its finest here in Southern Laos

the local "gas station"

*Stop to see how rice paper and rice noodles are made
There's a couple that lives off the dirt/gravel road and although he does not speak
English, he is willing to point and show you the process as he did for us.

Now tell me that's not hard these people work in those rice fields in the scorching
sun, making rice paper and rice noodles from scratch, biking or walking everywhere, and
living in conditions none of us will ever experience in our lives. These people were all so kind
and never without a wave or a smile as we rode by their homes. And those kids, you would
never expect so many of them to be so excited to see new faces and people running to the front 
of the house and yelling out one of the only English words they knew..."Hello!"

Some of this doesn't look "beautiful" by our standards, but this country has beauty written all
over it. It will continue to amaze you in all parts of the country. If you're intending on
heading that directions, have a wonderful trip. If not, we still suggest you try to find 
a way to get to Laos!

Thanks for sharing your beauty, Laos.

♥The Stanleys