Buddhas everywhere

Trip Start Jun 03, 2010
Trip End Mar 29, 2011

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Where I stayed
Narine Tachalerm Hotel

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Champasak,
Thursday, September 2, 2010

Up with the alarm at 06:00 and are helped to wake up with a couple of mugs of strong Lao coffee.  Take a local bus from just outside the guest house that we are assured is Pakse bound.  Instead of going to Ban Paphin and the ferry the bus takes a back road and reaches a stretch of what looks lioke a road under constrcution and it seems we are heading back to Pakse on the west bank of the river with no ferries required.  No doubt one day this will be a great road but at the moment it is wet and muddy and slow going.  The bus is overflowing with people and chickens are evrywehere.  It only ntakes 1 1/2 hours to reach a market on the outskirts of town from where we take a motorbike taxi back to Narine Tachalerm Hotel and check in to a different room for a couple of nights.  Head out for a quick lunch then negotiate with a skylab driver to take us out of town to a place called Ban Saphai which is supposed to be home to a domestic textile weaving industry.  It is only about 15km and we are soon there.  It may once have been a nice place to visit but it isnt anymore.  There is nothing to see here.  There are a couple of looms that I can see hidden in peoples houses but the only one that is in use is at what is titled a handicrfat centre and this is more shop than workshop.  Indeed, the young girl working the loom only started when she saw us approaching.  There are a number of small boatds waiting to ferry people over to Don Kho island in the river but if Ban Saphai is anything to judge by we decide not to make the effort to cross to the island.  Back aboard the skylab and start to head back to Pakse.  We stop briefly at an enormous Vietnamese Cemetery en-route, we being obsessed by graveyards etc, and I pop in for a look around.  As we were leaving Pakse earlier our driver pointed out a large golden Buddha just off to the side of the road.  As our visit had been so brief I asked him to take us here for a quick look and it tuurned out to be a good idea.  The Buddha himself was obviously very new and had an awkward appearence and a not very attractive face.  They are usual serence but this one just looked uncomfortable.  The temple was quite busy with people coming to make offerings - tambon - for some reason.  The most interesting thing here was the village itself; Chom Pheat.  At quite a few of the houses along the small road people were sat by the road working on carving Buddha figures from what appeared to be sandstone.  Some carved out rough shapes from the original stome whilst others formed the arms and bodies and others again added the small facial details.  Walked through the village for an hour watching the images being carved.  One person we spoke with was making an image to order for someone in Vientiane so the village must have a good reputation to take ordxers from so far afield.  When we get back to Pakse we decide to stay out of the midday sun for a while which is actually quite intense today.  The sun soon turns to torrential rain however and we stay in ourt room for a couple of hours waiting for it to die down a little.  Late afternoon we walk down to the river and Wat Luang where there is a alrge Sangha School for monks that appears to be well attended.  Carry on to the large street market where we buy a few bananas to top our fruit intake which has been sadly lacking the last few days.  I am caught by complete surprise at the market to find a group of ladies at one of the stalls playing a game of bingo !!In the evening we head back to the Pakse Hotel but once again the rain has closed the rooftop bar so it is back to the Indian for another curry.
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