Soulless Pakse

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 03, 2011

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Champasak,
Sunday, January 9, 2011

Got to the bus terminal at 7am in time to board my Pakse bus for a slow 6 hours ride out of Savan. This regular bus was dirt cheap - only 35,000 kip. After a rocky journey, we rocked up to outskirts of Pakse in the afternoon heat. A long 20,000 kip sawngthaew transit took some of us bus passengers into Pakse systematically dropping passengers off. By the time I got off (I was the last), I had more or less explored Pakse on wheels. Disappointingly, Pakse is no stopover town. It is big no doubt but void of character. Quite a soulless town, really. Most travellers use Pakse as a base to venture out to Champasak Province which is the highlands (not Champasak town).
The so-called town centre I stayed in did not even have a half decent Laotian food stall. The two most popular eateries were Indian. Surprisingly most guesthouses were full but I managed to check in a 40,000 kip room with half of a door built in the wall - ran by chinese nationals. Paid a 10,000 kip tuktuk ride to Champasak historic museum which was closed (I voiced my displeasure to two sleepy guards - pointing out that the sign printed OPEN DAILY - only to be brushed away) and so decided to treat myself to a proper traditional massage at this Clinic Keo Ou Done, 2 km out of Pakse.
Bargained a 6000 kip tuktuk ride to Wat Nam Fai, said to house a footprint of Buddha, which I failed to locate (probably in that ominous looking stupa). A short walk south, I found myself back at the street of my guesthouse. Visited a wat just aound the corner near the French bridge and befriended a couple of novice monks about 16-17 years old. Both genuine and down to earth, always inquisitive about me more than my camera. We took photos and even exchanged emails. One reads (sorry cannot reveal more details). I asked what made him decided to be a monk - he smoothly replied "I like Buddhism". So sincere, so heart warming, so young. At 6pm the novices gathered for their prayers and I snapped - photographs.
I tried my best not to eat at the ever popular Indian restaurents but sat in for supper and beers anyway after a mediocre dinner of flat noodles with chicken at a rather predictable hawker stall. There was absolutely nothing to do in Pakse. You know that meant? Diary time.
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